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Throughout history, religious cultures have used sacred objects as part of rituals, devotions and celebrations. Sacred Word & Image: Five World Religions features over 50 examples of the sacred written word and pictorial image as expressed in the cultures of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity throughout the past 1500 years. Drawn from several prominent private collections in Arizona as well as the Museum’s collection, this exhibition includes manuscripts, textiles, prayer rugs, gilded shrines, crosses and icons, jeweled reliquaries and painted altarpieces that bring the history and interconnections between major world faiths together.
“The variety of materials used to document mankind’s significant thoughts and beliefs during this long span of time is astonishing: paper, palm leaf, wood, lacquer, metal and ivory,” commented Dr. Janet Baker, curator of Asian art at Phoenix Art Museum. “In an age when the printed word and image have been transformed into electronic form, it is revelatory to see how past civilizations used the means available to them at the time and in the place where they were created to become lasting documents of thoughts, visions, beliefs and hopes for a better world, both in the present and future realms.”
The works in this exhibition transcend time and place, as their small scale and portability have allowed them to pass through many hands of both believers and collectors alike. They allow us a better understanding of the quest of the human heart and mind to seek answers to profound questions: Who are we? Why are we here? What lies beyond this life? How should we conduct our lives on this earth? Most important, for the 21st century, is the question of how we can live together as a global society.
A digital catalogue of this exhibition is available digitally for free here: