THERE WERE SOME beautiful things in the museum at old Szujhou last Monday. One of my faves was a statue of the Goddess of Compassion, sometimes called Kwan Yin.
It transpires that Shanghai was a major centre of Buddhism in ancient times of yore – indeed two of the most important temples of Avalokiteshvara, the Sanskrit name for compassion, still exist in the old town.
It is true that sometimes the Chinese guys got very suspicious about their wives worshipping what appeared to be a man in their sacred shrines, and that some of them insisted they didn’t do that, they should worship a goddess, thus giving rise to the Kwan Yin worship.
Well, they told me that in the CKS museum in Old Taipei, many many years ago, which seems to hold all the treasures that used to be in the Beijing museum after Mao beat Chiang and Chiang fled. Families, what are they like?
I have, in pixels, mused that the best hope of reconciliation between Taiwan and the People’s Republic is that some at least of those treasures go back to the mainland without blood and certainly without recriminations and ICBMs. Cultural treasures are not always about money.
And no, I am not a Buddhist. It’s just that fighting over statues and pictures of Avalokiteshvara doesn’t seem to have much point to it in the 21st century. If they are Chinese treasures, let them be available to more people. Taiwan has treasures of its own, too. ♥
BOGGARD While philosophers – whether Platonic or Aristotelain – ponder such items, here’s a few more pix from Ole Shanghai.