Ханна Нидал
Hannah Nydahl (1946-2007) was a translator, a lama, a confidante of the highest lamas of Karma Kagyu tradition.

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03.01.2019 - 31.12.2019

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Home  → About us  → News  → Long-awaited opening of the permanent exposition «Culture and art of Central Asia» in the Hermitage.

Long-awaited opening of the permanent exposition «Culture and art of Central Asia» in the Hermitage.


The renewed exposition includes a set of the rarest works of Buddhist art –sculptures, tankas, stupas, cult objects. Among unique exhibits – the tanka «Buddha Shakyamuni» painted by Tenth Karmapa. 

It was represented to  Seventeenth Karmapa Thaye Dorje during his visit to the Hermitage in 2009.
In total an exhibition presents about one thousand exponents of material culture and art from various regions of Central Asia – East Turkestan, the provinces of China, Mongolia and Tibet.

The separate gallery (hall 359) is devoted to monuments of East Turkestan. The most ancient models of Buddhist art from Turfansky, Karasharsky and Kucharsky oases and Hotan will be offered to attention of visitors. In the first millennium the Great Silk Way, which connected the Western world and Central Asia with China have passed through these oases. The Great Silk Way has delivered not only trading coffles, but also the Buddhism from India through Central Asia to China. The Buddhism had a huge impact on culture of the oasitic states – all first millennium passed under the sign of distribution of Buddhist culture.

And today the Hermitage exhibits a rich cultural heritage of oasitic principalities of East Turkestan at all its variety. Here are represented the clay sculptured images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas – the large sculptures and tiny images from Hotan, bright colourful tankas and wall paintings from Buddhist cave monasteries of the Turfansky oasis and also a wall painting «Dzhataka about the tigress» (the most ancient item in an exposition), «Bodhisattva and monks from a sermon scene», «Kushinagara’s Siege» from the Karasharsky oasis.

In the following two halls of an exposition (360 and 361) you will be able to get acquainted with original artifacts of Buddhist art from Mogao’s cave monastery, near the city of Dunkhuan in the China province Gansu. These are the tankas executed on silk, canvas and paper, the modelled and painted sculptures, bright wall paintings, picturesque rolls and banners. Among the most rare samples – banners with Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Bodhisattva Loving Eyes), tanka with the image of Buddha Amitabha and the Pure Land, a landscape with a plot of Djataki about the kind son. 

The presented collection gives an idea of Buddhism development in Cave of the thousand Buddhas anent Dunkhuan.
Two more halls of an exhibition are occupied by the unique exhibits found in the dead city Jara-Hoto in the south of the Gobi Desert. Here are presented the monuments of painting and sculpture of the Tangut state of Western Xia. Jara-Hoto, or the Black city, – the Mongolian name of the city located in lower course of the river Edzingol in once blossoming oasis. The culture and art of Tanguts hold «midline» position between Tibet and China, for them it was typical to use and synthesize the Tibetan, Chinese and Tibetan-Chinese art traditions.

The Hermitage collection includes the most important monuments of this unique culture: «A meeting of the righteous person in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha» tanka, the two-headed Buddha sculpture, «The Buddha in a crown» tanka that stands out against all the collection. It represents the Buddha with a coin in the right arm lowered along the body. The coin of the Chinese type allows to define date of creation of this work precisely.

The special place at an exhibition takes the richest collection of a Buddhist silver sculpture of Mongolia and Tibet situated in 364 and 365 halls of the Hermitage. Here you will find inspiring sculptural images of Buddha Amitayus – single and in the union, Bodhisattva Chenrezig, Manjusri, White Tara, the Defender White Umbrella, Demchog, Six-handed Mahakala. In this part of an exposition are presented also magnificent samples of Mongolian tankas. As from Mongolia the Buddhism extended to Buryatia and Kalmykia, the exhibition also presents the works of the Buryatia art.

The constant exposition of unique Buddhist sculptures, tankas, cult objects which used to be stored in store rooms before, being inaccessible to public, is really a precious gift of the Hermitage to all mankind!



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