How was it used?

Glass was used in various ways in the practice of religion in China.

Glass has special transparent and light-transmitting qualities. The Buddha and his wisdom and purity were often spoken of in terms of light so people thought glass was suitable for use in Buddhist worship.

Buddhism became popular amongst Chinese people during the Tang and Song dynasties (about 600-1300 AD). Wealthy people and monks bought glass from China and other countries to make special offerings to the Buddha.

Glass objects were used for Buddhist worship in later times too, such as the red and white altar set made for the palace of the Qianlong Emperor (1736-95) that is in the Bristol collection.

Because glass can be melted and formed in a mould, it was good for making small figures for worship. The collection at Bristol has figures of the Daoist God of Long Life and the Bodhisattva Guanyin.

Click on the images to find out more about them.