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AREVA enables the "Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet" to acquire an extraordinary statue from China: a monumental 6th century Bodhisattva

News brief


September 25, 2006

As part of its cultural patronage program, AREVA has had a partnership with the "Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet" for several years involving the museum’s efforts to enrich its collections through the acquisition of major works of art.

The acquisition of this Bodhisattva is a defining moment for the museum. No other work of this size (2.4 m, 7¾ feet) has appeared on the market since the beginning of the Second World War. The Ministry of Culture’s Direction des Musées de France qualified the piece as "a treasure of major significance" for France’s national heritage.

This monumental piece is an outstanding addition to the "Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet’s" collections, ranking it, in terms of Chinese art, alongside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the British Museum in London.

The style of the statue points towards the great Imperial workshops of northeastern China during the reign of the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577). It represents a Bodhisattva, an "enlightened being".

The column-shaped statue, sculpted in the original rock, was probably part of a statuary group arranged around the Buddha on the main altar of a temple. These figures are honored chiefly in the Buddhist school of the Great Vehicle. In answer to the prayers of believers seeking to free themselves from pain, the Bodhisattva intervenes in human life as a helpful guide. He is the embodiment of the wish to achieve the state of Buddhahood, or "perfect enlightenment".

AREVA and the "Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet"

Since 2001, the group has enabled the "Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet" to acquire collector’s pieces and helped it to broaden its reach in France and abroad.

In 2001, AREVA funded the acquisition of a Japanese painting representing the monk Zen Ikkyu Sojun, a person of considerable influence in Japan.

In 2002, when the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet inaugurated the teahouse in the Buddhist Pantheon (museum annex), AREVA supported the project by contributing to the rebuilding of the lighting systems.

In 2003, the group made possible the acquisition of a northern Chinese work dating from the 6th century, the Vairocana Cosmic Buddha.

In 2004 and 2005, the years of the France-China exchanges, AREVA participated in an exchange of statues between the Musée Guimet and the Shanghai Museum: Camondo’s elephant (a bronze wine vessel) went to China, while a wine vessel in the shape of a buffalo (“Zun”) was shown in Paris.

To facilitate wide scale public access to culture, AREVA is also participating in the development of educational programs at the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet for underprivileged children and families.