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Secular and Sacred

Scholars, Deities, and Immortals in Chinese Art

September 10, 2005–January 8, 2006

In China's traditional culture, statecraft, philosophy, and religion were often seen as complementary and interrelated belief systems. An individual might subscribe to Confucianism's strong sense of ethics and social responsibility in his public life, embrace Daoist ideals of quietude and naturalness in his private life, and aspire to Buddhist salvation in the afterlife. This worldview is reflected in the arts, where the same circle of artists and patrons might create or own works that represent seemingly divergent philosophical or religious perspectives. This exhibition of more than sixty paintings, calligraphies, and related works of art explores the varied kinds of imagery that have coexisted from the eleventh through the twentieth century.