Buddhist sculpture research at the NMC has a long history and it focuses on case studies based on the museum’s collections. Among other research results, retired expert Sun Guozhang’s Exterior Architectural Ruins of the Mogao Caves, Dunhuang and Avalokitesvara, Liang Feng’s Buddhist Stories Told by Ivory Sculptures from the Yulin Caves, and Zhou Zheng’s An Investigation into Two Statue Tablets, are all quite influential.

NMC researchers have been pushing back the frontiers of research on Buddhist sculpture, theoretically and physically. Works of research include, among others, National Museum of China: Clay Buddhist Figurines and Their Former Collectors by Tong Chunyan, National Museum of China: Research on Gilded-Bronze Water-Moon Guanyin Bodhisattva by Zhang Meng, and Research on Qing-Dynasty Gilded-Bronze Statues of Mahakala by Li Hongkun. The two forward-looking research projects directed by Ma Zongjie, “Research on the History of Theories of Buddhist Sculpture in the Han Parts of China” (Approval No.: 18BZS132) funded by the National Social Science Foundation of China and “Research on Gilded Buddhist Statues of the Han, Western and Eastern Jin, and Southern and Northern Dynasties” (Approval No.: 14DF44) funded by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, are designed to provide systematic theoretical basics for the Buddhist statues exhibition, training and research in the museum sector and fully explore the cultural aspects of Buddhist sculpture; among interim research outcomes is the Religious Functions of Gilded Buddhist Statues As Seen from the Buddhist Texts Translated by Lokak?ema. The NMC’s “Ancient Chinese Buddhist Sculpture” exhibition, curated based on extensive theoretical research and the museum’s Buddhist statue collections, have been popular with the audiences.

Full-time researchers: Tong Chunyan, Director and Research Curator, and Ma Zongjie, Associate Research Curator.