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Buddhist relic on display

Darjeeling, Oct. 5: An exhibition of Buddhist artifacts dating back to 2nd century B.C. and collected from Tibet, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sikkim and Darjeeling began in the Raj Bhawan here today.

The statues and models depicting every stage of Lord Buddha’s life, transformation of Buddhism and evolution of Buddhist art form would be on display till October 11.

It was one of the rare occasions when the gates of Raj Bhawan were thrown open for the public when the governor himself was present in Darjeeling.

Along with Buddhist art, the exhibits also portray work from the Kushana period in the 2nd century B.C. The Kushanas were known for their carvings on schist stone.

Every stage of Lord Buddha’s life, starting from the dream that queen Maya had about conceiving him, the birth, childhood, marriage, renunciation, attainment of bodhi, propagation of the doctrine to his demise, have been depicted at the exhibition called Buddhist Art and Crafts of South Asia.

The event organised by the Indian Museum and the Inner Wheel Club was inaugurated by governor M.K. Narayanan this morning. “The organisers need to encourage people from outside Darjeeling to attend the exhibition,” he said.

The exhibition at the Durbar Hall would be open from 11am to 5pm everyday.

“The most interesting part of the exhibition is the depiction of the transformation of the medium of work and the interpretation of the teachings of Buddha. One cannot miss the transformation of medium from schist stone in the 2nd century B.C. to bronze and basalt from the 10th century B.C. through the 8th century B.C,” said Suzet Tamang, an art follower from Darjeeling.

Some of the interesting exhibits include a trumpet made of goat horn collected from Lhasa and another made of human thigh bone found in Bhutan.

“Indian Buddhism and its art and craft were initially disseminated beyond India in purely Indian forms. However, all Buddhist countries in Asia quickly developed their own particular artistic trend,” said Anup K. Matilal, the director, Indian Museum. He added that a huge crowd was expected.

The artifacts will be taken back to the Indian Museum in Calcutta after the exhibition.