This exhibition features a large and marvelously detailed Chinese pantheon painting featuring a range of Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian, and popular Chinese deities. The religious traditions to which these gods belong have coexisted in China for well over one-thousand years. While the discrete religious and philosophical traditions maintained their integrity, over time deities, and sometimes even historical figures, were co-opted by popular religions, from which syncretic imagery of pantheon paintings and prints emerged.
Through this display and ongoing research into China’s rich and complex religious traditions, we are able to learn more about the relationship between art and belief, and how traditions are adapted and change within China’s diverse population.
(Photo: Anonymous, Chinese New Year Pantheon (detail), Qing dynasty (1644–1911), late 18th–early 19th century. Ink and colors on paper. Private Collection. Photography by John Bigelow Taylor 2017)