Magic Carpet 魔毯
2006

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Exhibited: National Art Museum of Singapore, Belief: Singapore Biennale
Materials: Handweaved carpet

For the first Singapore Biennale, Xu Bing created a prayer carpet for the Kwan-Im Temple, the largest Buddhist Temple in Singapore.

The design of the carpet is similar in concept to Hui Su's Former Qin Dynasty creation the Xuan Ji Tu. In 1620 Hui Su created a grid of 841 characters that can be read in any number of directions and combinations. From this single grid, one can discern nearly 4,000 separate poems. In this fashion, Xu Bing selected passages from four significant faith-based texts (one Buddhist, one Gnostic, one Jewish, and one passage from Marx, all in English translation), which he then transcribed as Square Word Calligraphy, and then synthesized into one text.