Tracing Artistic Developments from India to China: An Introduction to Zhou Mingqun’s Collection
“My goal is to build a systematic collection that illustrates how Buddhist art evolved from ancient India to China,” collector Zhou Mingqun said to me at his gallery in Shanghai. Zhou Mingqun was born in northeastern China and is of Manchu ethnic descent. Over the years, he has gradually withdrawn from his corporate responsibilities and focused on his art pursuits. In Mr. Zhou’s collection, one can find Chinese Buddhist sculptures ranging from the Northern and Southern dynasties (420–589) up to the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), and sculptures from India and the Himalayas that influenced early Chinese Buddhist art.
In early 2000, Zhou Mingqun started collecting ceramics, which remains one of the largest categories on the Chinese art market in terms of both numbers and prices. His favorites are pieces from the Song dynasty. Song ceramics are known for their refined forms and pure glazes, which were influenced by Chan Buddhism and represented the aesthetic preferences of the era’s scholar-officials. They were used not only as practical objects in tea ceremony and flower arrangement, but also as sacred vessels in rituals.
A stone Buddhist stele, Northern Wei Dynasty. Image courtesy of the collector
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