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The 12th Exhibition: 2019.4.13 - 2020.1.5
India's symbol and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Taj Mahal. Considered as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, this mausoleum was built by the fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to entomb his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. This white marble mausoleum is characterized by its extravagant style, a testament to the Mughal empire's wealth, and symmetrical architecture. For its construction which took 22 years, Muslim architects and other engineers from around the world were brought in with the finest material and jewelry used. Ancient Hindu and Islamic engineering techniques were combined to build Taj Mahal, which represents India's Islamic history. Its breathtaking beauty transcends religion, culture, time and continues to attract people to this day.
The Love Story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz
Mughal Empire's fifth emperor, Shah Jahan. Befitting of the name meaning "King of the World", his rule saw the golden age of the Mughal empire. And behind his rise, there was a presence of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Born to a family of Persian nobility, she supported her husband when he was fighting for the throne with other princes. She accompanied her husband everywhere, even going on expeditions, and had 14 children together. When she was 36 and accompanying her husband to Deccan for a campaign, she dies while giving birth. The emperor was devastated, and as an eternal memorial for his wife, he devotes himself to the construction of Taj Mahal. Towards the end of his life, Shah Jahan would spend his time staring at the snow-white mausoleum thinking of his wife. His corpse was laid besides her in the mausoleum as a testament to their everlasting love.
The Parade of the Mughal Empire I, II
The Mughal Empire was the largest Islamic empire in the history of India. This massive empire lasted for over 300 years from the early 16th to the mid-19th century, and their name derives from their ancestral Mongolian Empire. Third emperor Akbar laid out important foundations for an empire, and in the subsequent years they expanded while ensuring stability amongst different religions. The empire reached heights of prosperity under its fifth emperor Shah Jahan. They adopted a provincial system with a centralized bureaucracy, and through various socio-economic and tax reforms achieves a stable rule. They were powerful militarily, and they even possessed cavalry with elephants, an animal considered holy and representation of power. Mughal Empire was an epoch builder who flourished by incorporating various Indian cultures and making peace with surrounding Hindu powers.
The leader of India's independent movement, Mahatma Gandhi. After studying abroad in England and becoming a lawyer, he moves to South Africa. After witnessing racial injustice there, he becomes involved in a struggle for civil rights. He moves back to India during World War I and joins a political party opposed to British rule called Indian National Congress, and spearheads the independence movement. Despite facing suppression and imprisonment, he leads a movement that emphasized nonviolent civil disobedience. With the famous "Salt March", his approach spreads all over India, and they were finally able to achieve independence in 1948.
However, struggle continued as Hindus and Muslims split and create two separate countries. Until his assassination, Gandhi worked tirelessly to bring peace between followers of two religions. As the honorific Mahatma (Great Soul)
Ablution and Prayer in Varanasi
In Hinduism, the river Ganges is deified as the goddess Ganga. Varanasi, a city on the banks of the Ganges in northern India, is a holy place for Hindus. Along the river bank there are series of steps, called ghats, where many pilgrims perform ritual ablutions and prayer. Many crematories are also located nearby and ashes are scattered into the river. One could feel a sense of life and death in the silence of the Ganges River, and the whole city is enveloped in a sacred atmosphere.
The Star Mosque and the Bustle of the City
The Star Mosque is located in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh. As its name suggests, the mosque is decorated with astral tiles and there is a star-shaped fountain in the courtyard in front of the mosque. Considered to be the most beautiful mosque in Dhaka, the Star Mosque was built in the 19th century by a wealthy Muslim named Ali Jan Bepari. It is located in the old town where the streets are lined with markets and stalls. The area is filled with energy as locals come and go while worshippers gather to pray.
Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Valley Civilization
As one of the oldest known civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilization is believed to have flourished in the basins of the Indus River between 2,500 - 1,800 BCE. One of their most famous ruins is Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan. Vestiges of this ancient city give clues to what must once have been a thriving urban center - streets carefully laid out in grids, with remains of a complex drainage system and bathing facilities. However, the civilization suddenly disappeared around 1,800 BCE. The reason for their decline, along with details of their daily lives, are still shrouded in mystery. In 1980, Mohenjo-daro became a World Heritage Site for its cultural significance.
The Shrine of Hazrat Ali - The Blue Mosque
The Shrine of Hazrat Ali in Northern Afghanistan was built in 1512 as a mausoleum for the mid-7th century Muslim leader Ali ibn Abi Talib. Commonly referred to as the Blue Mosque, its walls are covered with mosaic patterns made up mainly of bright cobalt blue tiling. Ali is the only Muslim leader revered and recognized by both of the major Islam denominations, Sunni and Shia. When pilgrims visit this place, it is said that they pray together regardless of their sectarian differences.
The Vishvanatha Temple in Khajuraho
The Khajuraho Group of Monuments, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are located in central India. These are Hindu and Jain temples built between the early 10th century and late the 12th century. Originally there were 85 monuments, but now only 25 remain. Among them, Vishvanatha Temple is retaining the Khajuraho architecture style from its golden days. The high tower with numerous pinnacles is especially striking. Also, you can find a great number of reliefs on the outer walls. The most famous of them is called "Maithuna", depicting entwined loving couples.
Hinduism is a polytheistic religion born out of ancient Vedic religion and other indigenous beliefs. The three supreme deities (Trimurti) consists of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. In one Hindu sect called Vaishnavism - where Vishnu is considered the supreme god - the world was created when Brahma came out of Vishnu's naval while he was meditating on a thousand-headed snake, followed by Shiva coming out of Brahma's forehead. The wife of Vishnu, Lakshmi is known as a goddess of beauty, wealth, and good luck. Here Vishnu and Lakshmi are depicted as a loving couple.
Hindu Sculpture - Stone Wheels of Konark
Konark Sun Temple, located in eastern India, is a stone temple built in the 13th century dedicated to the Hindu sun god Surya. In Indian mythology, Surya is often depicted riding a heavenly chariot pulled by 7 horses, thus the temple is built to resemble a giant chariot. At the temple's entrance 7 horses were carved, and on its foundation, there are 12 pairs of wheels with a diameter of over 3m which also functioned as an accurate sundial. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984.
The Buddha’s appearance and his enlightenment
Around the 5th century BCE, Siddhartha Gautama was born a prince of the Shakya clan in Nepal. One day, he decides to venture out beyond the palace walls. However, at each of the four gates he encounters an old man, a dead body, a sick person and an ascetic monk respectively. With this experience, he begins to ponder about life and death. To find answers, he eventually renounces his royal status to become a mendicant. Although Siddhartha tries various arduous ascetic practices, he realizes that self-mortification alone would not lead you to enlightenment. After ending such practice, he finally achieves enlightenment while meditating under the Bodhi tree. This marks the birth of Buddha, and the beginning of Buddhism.
The Death of Buddha
Buddha decides to spread his doctrine after attaining enlightenment. He mainly travels around the area of present-day northern India and many people, regardless of their social standings, converted to Buddhist beliefs. In the rainy season, he would stay in one location to preach. Jetavana is one of the most famous of such Buddhist monasteries. His missionary work continues for 45 years, and at the age of 80 he dies while lying down under sal trees in Kushinagar, Northern India. Paintings from later years, showing Buddha entering the parinirvana, depicts not only Bodhisattva and disciples by his side, but also various animals grieving for the passing of Buddha.
The Buddhas of Bamyan
The Cultural Landscape and Archeological Remains of the Bamyan Valley is a World Heritage Site located in Afghanistan. Buddhist cave temples were started to be built here around the 1st century, and the area thrived between the 5th-6th centuries when many giant Buddha statues were carved - including the famous two Buddhas with a height of 55m and 38m. It is said that Xuanzang, a famous Chinese monk from the 7th century and a model for the classic novel Journey to the West, visited this place in search for sutras during his pilgrimage. Unfortunately, the two famous Buddha statues were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
Patan Durbar Square
Patan, a small town in the Kathmandu Valley, Central Nepal, was once a prosperous royal capital known as the “City of Beauty.” The old palace sits at the Durbar Square in the center of town with the backdrop of the magnificent Himalayas. Nearby, there still exists many Hindu and Buddhist temples which are adorned with mysterious and elaborate Newar sculptures. Sight of pious Newar devotees visiting these temples enthralls visitors to this ancient capital.
Paro Taktsang and the Founder of Tibetan Buddhism
Paro Taktsang is a sacred site for Bhutan's national religion, Tibetan Buddhism. Perched atop a sheer cliffside over 3,000m above sea level, the monastery was built in 1692 and has since become a symbol of Bhutan. The name "Taktsang" means "tiger's lair", and it's based on the legend of Guru Padmasambhava from late 8th century. It is said that one day, he appeared riding on a tiger's back to meditate in nearby caves. Today, visitors from all over the world visit this holy place.
Sigiriya Rock and the Paintings
In the heart of central Sri Lankan jungle, there stands an ancient rock fortress - a World Heritage Site called Sigiriya. It was constructed in the 5th century by King Kasyapa I. At the main gate you will find enormous paws, the remains of what was once a giant stone lion. In fact, the name Sigiriya originates from the word Sihagri, meaning "lion rock". On top of the 195m rock plateau, ruins of a royal palace, waterways, gardens, and storehouses can be found. Also notable are the famous frescoes of beautiful women that cover the mountainside. Even after 1,500 years, they have withstood weathering and continues to smile in radiant colors.
South Asian Literature…”The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling
The Jungle Book is a novel by Rudyard Kipling. Consisting of 7 stories, its characters are mostly animals of South Asia, except for the famous stories involving a boy named Mowgli. He was raised in the jungle by wolves and taught the Law of the Jungle by Baloo the bear. Still, some animals refuse to accept him as one of their own, while humans also ostracize him for being raised by wolves. In the face of adversity, Mowgli stays strong throughout his adventures. Kipling was born in Mumbai under the British rule. Perhaps As a British man born and raised in India, perhaps he projected himself into Mowgli.
Ganesha is said to have been created when Parvati, the wife of Shiva, one of he principal deities of Hinduism, breathed life into a doll. Not knowing this fact, Shiva ends up cutting off Ganesha's head in a battle later on. To console his grieving wife, Shiva goes out looking for the severed head. Unable to find it, Shiva brings back an elephant's head instead. This accounts for Ganesha's unique appearance. As a remover of hardship and obstacles, Ganesha is widely revered, especially as a patron god of business and academics.
Jewel of the Indian Ocean - Maldives
Raised coral reefs, or atolls, form over 1,200 islands that make up the nation of Maldives. Around 80% of these islands are situated less than 1m above sea-level, and a lagoon is often found at the center of many of these islands. They are home to pristine palm tree forests and white sand beaches that sparkle brightly under the sun. In the crystal clear emerald green ocean, colorful fish swim among the far expanding coral reef. In ancient times Arabic sailors, impressed by their beauty, referred to these islands as "pearl necklace". Today it is a popular destination for divers and tourists.
Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, known as Mother Teresa, was born in the former Ottoman Empire (now Macedonia) in 1910 into a catholic family and became a nun at the age of 18.
Later on she moved to India and became a teacher in Calcutta. There Mother Teresa had a vision of God telling her to "leave the convent and help the poor while living among them", whereupon she opened an open-air school for slum children.
With the help of her former students, her missionary work expanded and they founded the "Missionaries of Charity", opened the hospice "the Kalighat Home for the Dying" as well as orphanages. Those institutions accepted the sick and the poor regardless of their religion. They respected the other parties wishes and provided care according to the rituals of their faith, such as Hinduism or Islam.
Her charitable work attracted attention around the world, and in 1979 Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize. She believed in God's love and dedicated her life to save many people, and is well respected in all parts of the world even to this day. This work was created in 16 days (June 5th - June 20th) by the general producer of the Sand Museum, Mr. Katsuhiko Chaen.
As a public production, many visitors enjoyed watching Mr. Chaen working on this statue.