The literature and religions of the Near East, India and the Far East are housed in the last section on the first level. On show are sumptuous paper manuscripts from Persia (Shiraz, Bukhara, Herat or Isfahan) dating from the 13th to the 18th centuries:
The Koranic revelations are well represented: a complete Arab Koran in Kufic script from the 10thcentury, as well as an older page dating back to the 8th-9th century; an ornate 6th-century Persian Koran in Naskh script; a rolled Koran from Turkey and its metal case that Suleiman the Magnificent took with him on his military expeditions to Europe; and the first Latin translation of the Koran printed in Hamburg in 1694.
The Brahmanic religion and the Indian epic are represented by Sanskrit manuscripts of the 18th and 19th centuries such as the Bhagavad-Gita. It is known as the Gospel of Krishna (the incarnation of the god Vishnu) and is part of the great Mahabharata epic. Also on display is the Nandi Purana, the legend of the god Shiva’s bull. The Nandi Purana was one of the puranas that rekindled the Vedic religion in India after the decline of Buddhism in the 5th century.
A Zen kakemono and a Japanese manuscript depict the life of Shakyamuni Buddha. With the Silk Road, a new form of Buddhism known as the Great Vehicle had spread to Turkestan, Tibet and China before reaching Korea and Japan. One example is the 9th-century Tibetan scroll, Buddha’s Infinite Life Sutra, from the famous Dunhuang caves.
Introducing Japanese literature and art are:
And finally China. On display are woodcut prints of Confucian classics, including the famous I Ching, or Book of Changes. Its wheel of hexagrams is reproduced in the 1415 edition of the monumental neo-Confucian encyclopaedia of the Yongle Emperor of the Ming dynasty. The collection also features the first Latin translation of Confucius by a Jesuit father and an exceptional calligraphy painted on jade by the Manchu Qianlong Emperor who persecuted Jesuits and was admired by Voltaire.