Exhibition Type: Chinese Art

83 objects



Introduction | Images | 16th Century Textual References | Glossary

Empresses of China’s Forbidden City, 1644–1912


The lives of the Qing dynasty empresses offer a compelling tale of opulence and influence as told in this first-ever, in-depth exhibition of the subject. Their vital presence over the 260-year course of the Qing is brought to light through an unprecedented assembly of spectacular objects. Featured are royal portraits, paintings depicting court life, seals and …

Cave 2


Freestanding Sculptures Two tall, bejeweled bodhisattvas displayed in Echoes of the Past represent deities that accompany the Buddha Amitabha, who presides over the Western Paradise, also known as his Sukhavati. In their original setting—the main altar of the central pillar in Cave 2—these images and pairs of less finely attired bodhisattvas and Pratyekabuddhas together illustrated the divinities …

North Cave at Northern Xiangtangshan


The North Cave at northern Xiangtangshan is the earliest and most impressive construction of the entire complex. Although it lacks a dedication inscription, it was probably sponsored by the emperor Wenxuan (reigned 550–59), the first ruler of the Northern Qi dynasty.Completed during the 550s and popularly known as the Great Buddha Cave, the North Cave …

South Cave at Northern Xiangtangshan


Like the North Cave, the South Cave was commissioned by the Northern Qi court, but it presents a different plan. Lacking a central pillar, it is an open cubical chamber with three altars on the back and side walls. Each altar originally included seven figures arranged symmetrically: a seated Buddha in the center, flanked by …

Northern Xiangtangshan


Northern Xiangtangshan, located near the village of Hecun in the Fengfeng Mining District, is of monumental scale and consists of three main cave temples halfway up Drum Mountain (Gushan). This online feature explores two of the three. The North Cave is the oldest and largest cave. The South Cave is the basis of the Digital Cave—a virtual reconstruction of …

Southern Xiangtangshan


A few miles from northern Xiangtangshan, the seven caves of southern Xiangtangshan are arranged in two levels and cut into a stone cliff more than thirty feet high. Although their floor plans resemble those at the northern site, these caves are smaller because they were not sponsored by imperial patrons. Cave 2, on the lower level, …



Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan is organized by the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Major funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Leon Levy Foundation, the Smart Family Foundation, and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter …

Bianzhong bells