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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism : Art and Religion in Ancient China

This online gallery supports the Museum of Fine Arts new Chinese Song Dynasty gallery now on view.

This lesson explores three major religions from ancient China. This lesson focuses on these religions during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). This lesson examines how Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism developed through the analysis of objects.  This lesson asks students to study statues, scrolls, and text within each of these religions, noting, materials, and forms to find the core beliefs and practices for each religion.

Students will discover political and historical events that also could have influenced worship of these religions. Students will be asked to compare and contrast all three. This lesson discusses three religions and has a copious amount of information within the slides and the additional resources; however, teachers should break up the information in a manner that would be most helpful for their students.

The objects in this lesson are just the beginning. We encourage you to explore the Museum’s online collection through this web source—or even better, to visit the Museum and walk through the physical galleries—to look for other objects that will provide further insights into this exhibitions

Learning goals:

In exploring this lesson, students will:

-Discover how to use a visual image to gather information about multiple religions

-Explore a variety of paintings and sculpture from around the world

This discovery will require students to:

-Look closely at the images and make observations based on visual evidence. 

-Make connections between the visual art and the history that encompasses its creation

-Use visual evidence to support their written and verbal understanding

-Develop vocabulary that describes specific visual images and its relationship to Confucianism, Buddhism, or Daoism

Using this resource: 

History teachers and students will be interested in the details imbedded objects, which could then be translated historical events

History teachers and students will be interested in using the visual images as information for multiple religions during the Song Dynasty

English teachers and students will be interested in how to use visual evidence to support their written understanding as students compare religions

Visual Art teachers and students will be interested in in the unique styles and techniques from the Song Dynasty



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