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Nandi

12 March, 2013 (07:00) | medieval, sculpture, south asia | By: xensen

Nandi - Asian Art Museum - P3120420

 

Nandi the bull is the mount of the Hindu god Shiva. I took this photo at the Asian Art Museum, where, unfortunately, the bull is less prominently displayed than it was at the museum’s old location in Golden Gate Park.

A few garlands would help. The museum’s label informs us that

In southern India, a large sculpture of Nandi would usually be placed in front of the main sanctuary of a temple to Shiva. It would face toward the sanctuary, so that Nandi could gaze adoringly at the representation of his master enshrined there. Because of this orientation, worshippers entering the temple compound would approach the sculpture of Nandi from behind.

Here Shiva’s bull is decked with garlands, strings of bells, an elaborate blanket, and other decorations carved in the stone. In the temple, it would also have been wreathed in real flowers and fabrics.

Still, Nandi remains much beloved, and this massive statue 15th-century granite statue is readily accessible in the museum’s south court, where it is well worth a visit.

 

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China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy

8 March, 2013 (10:03) | ancient, ceramics/metal/stone, china, sculpture | By: xensen

That’s the title of the exhibition showing at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco through May 27. I received my new camera — an Olympus E-PL2 — a couple of days ago and took of few pictures of the warriors yesterday. The E-PL2 is a micro four thirds mirrorless camera that has a near-DSL-size sensor but a small body. It should be perfect for the travel photography that I like to do.

The AAM display features dark-colored walls and dark rooms with moody lighting. The warriors are not, of course, light sensitive — originally they were brightly painted, but they are never shown that way today — but the exhibition design makes an effective display. Low light situations are not really this camera’s strength, but it performed pretty capably.

terracotta warriors and horse

terracotta warrior (kneeling archer)

terracotta warriors

terracotta warrior

terracotta horse and warrior

In the museum’s north court there is a replica chariot pulled by a team of four horses.

After viewing the warriors, you might want to go up the escalator to view the museum’s permanent collection. It’s best viewed, if you have the time, starting from ancient South Asia at the top of the escalator.

asian art museum escalator and skylights

The small figure at the top of the escalator in that photo is Ganesha.

seated ganesha, 1200-1300

ganesha as remover of obstacles

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Terracotta Warriors opening party at Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

18 February, 2013 (20:19) | ancient, ceramics/metal/stone, china, sculpture | By: xensen

Terraacotta Warriors opening party invite

The Asian Art Museum (200 Larkin Street in San Francisco’s Civic Center) is hosting a party to celebrate their opening of an exhibition featuring some of the First Emperor’s terra-cotta warriors. The party, beginning at 7:00 this Thursday, February 22, will feature  CHERYL, an artist collective that throws “the Big Apple’s most outrageous party” (Time Out London).

In other news, 7junipers has been inactive for some time dealing with nonvirtual projects. I hope to return to more active blogging. We shall see.

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Ai Weiwei, 1983

15 August, 2011 (05:00) | ancient, china, contemporary, prints/photographs, sculpture, south asia | By: xensen

This fellow in a New York mood is Ai Weiwei, self-photographed in 1983. His show at Asia Society just completed, but there is still what looks like an excellent exhibition of Buddhist sculptures from Pakistan at the Asia Society Museum, including this handsome Gandharan bloke, on loan from the Lahore Museum:

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Daido Bunka enso

12 July, 2010 (05:00) | japan, paintings, premodern-modern | By: xensen

daido bunka enso

This unusual enso based on the character for heart/mind was made by Daido Bunka in the first half of the eighteenth century.

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The Character for ”Heart/Mind” as an Ens?, 18th century, by Daido Bunka (Japan, 1680-1752). Hanging scroll, ink on paper, image 11 3/16 x 21 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Edwin Janss, M.84.211.1.

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The Longest Way

7 September, 2009 (06:00) | china, contemporary, literature/performance/film/music | By: xensen

This fellow walked across China and made a spectacular time-lapse video about it.

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Indra’s lute

6 August, 2009 (05:00) | paintings, premodern-modern, southeast asia | By: xensen

Indra, a major Hindu deity, also figures in the Thai Buddhist belief system, where he seen as powerful but limited and subservient to the Buddha (and sometimes as one of the four guardian kings of the cardinal directions). He is recognizable by his green skin.

The image shown is a detail from a large painting of the story of the life of the Buddha in the collection of the Asian Art Museum (Scenes from the life of the Buddha, 1800-1850. Thailand; paint and gold on cloth. Gift from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Southeast Asian Art Collection, 2006.27.122.15).  The painting will be displayed during the museum’s upcoming Emerald Cities: Arts of Siam and Burma exhibition

In an essay I wrote on the subject of translation, I talked about the “middle way” of the Chinese translator Xuanzang (who lived in the seventh century but may be most familiar from his role in the Ming dynasty “Monkey” stories). Xuanzang insisted that translation be both “truthful” and “intelligible to the populace.” In the essay I go on to discuss other advocates of the middle way, such as the Mexican poet Octavio Paz.

In this detail Indra makes a case for the middle way in a charming manner. The Buddha-to-be (shortly before his enlightenment) has been troubled about whether to give up the extreme austerities he has been practicing. Here Indra appears to him and plucks three strings of a lute-like instrument. One string is too slack, and it makes only a dull sound. One string is too tight, and it breaks when plucked. Only the properly tightened string makes a beautiful sound.

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Photo Wednesday: Wat Rajabophit

29 July, 2009 (05:00) | architecture/public, premodern-modern, southeast asia | By: xensen

This image of patterns and reflections at Wat Rajabophit, Bangkok, Thailand, comes from Taiger808′s photostream. The temple was constructed in 1869 under the command of King Rama V.

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Samurai samba

21 May, 2009 (05:00) | contemporary, japan, literature/performance/film/music | By: xensen

Check out this entrancingly nutty samurai samba. Via Kenneth Ikemoto at the Asian Art Museum blog.

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The Portland Ganesha

17 February, 2009 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, medieval, south asia | By: xensen

Portland Art Museum Ganesha

Yesterday the Portland Art Museum unveiled a recent purchase: an eleventh-century stone Ganesha from northeastern India.

The Portland Ganesha is shown seated in the posture of “royal ease,” with one knee raised. His rat mount looks up from below, a wisdom bearer (vidyadhara) reaches down from above with a garland of flowers. One of Ganesha’s hands is held in the gesture of reassurance, while the others hold various objects.

How was this object removed from India? No one seems sure.

Read more »

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Vajrabhairava’s war dance

9 February, 2009 (05:00) | himalayas, paintings, premodern-modern | By: xensen

Dancing Vajrabhairava

I love this very blue blue meanie from The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan, a show that’s about to open at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Despite appearances, he’s not really a meanie. He’s a wrathful deity and — so long as you are on the side of the true dharma — he’s your friend. Wrathful deities protect against malevolent forces. As a result, few images of wrathful deities were allowed to be removed from Bhutan for the exhibition, for fear of leaving the country unprotected.

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Cut-paper lamps

24 November, 2008 (05:00) | china, contemporary, sculpture | By: xensen

memory cloud lamp by yu jordy fu

The Chinese invented paper, and paper cutting is an art form with a long history there. Yu Jordy Fu is a designer who was trained as an architect at the Royal College of Art in London. She has developed a 3D style of paper cutting that she turns into lamps with clever use of LED or other lighting. A selection of these, such as the Memory Cloud Lamp, above, are for sale on her website.

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Memory Cloud Lamp, 21st c., by Yu Jordy Fu (Chinese, b. 1982). Paper.

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Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew

20 November, 2008 (05:00) | architecture/public, contemporary, southeast asia | By: xensen

The Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew is a Buddhist temple in Tailand that is constructed of beer bottles; it is located in Sisaket province. The temple is said to employ a million bottles in its construction. Not just a masterpiece of recycling, it is also a functioning Buddhist temple.

This photo is from Reuters:

monk in buddhist temple made of beer bottles

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Morihei Ueshiba

14 August, 2008 (05:00) | 20th c, japan | By: xensen

morihei ueshiba

This photo of Morihei Ueshiba comes from Wikipedia. Morihei Eushiba was greatly influential in developing martial arts practice as a spiritual discipline.

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Photo Wednesday: Borobudur

23 July, 2008 (05:00) | medieval, sculpture, southeast asia | By: xensen

The jester Togog

21 July, 2008 (05:00) | literature/performance/film/music, premodern-modern, southeast asia | By: xensen

wayang golek clown puppet togog

A couple of people were asking for more images of Indonesian jester puppets. Here’s another one from the Asian Art Museum (where the puppets are difficult to photograph because they are displayed in very low light). His name is Togog.

Earlier I posted an image of the jester Semar. There is more information about Indonesian clown puppets at the Museum of Folly.

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The jester Togog, ca. 1800-1900. Ondonesia; Bandung, West Java. Wood cloth, and mixed media. Asian Art Museum; From the Mimi and John Herbert Collection, F2000.85.33.

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Standing Bodhisattva

18 July, 2008 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, china, medieval | By: xensen

standing bodhisattva, walters art museum, baltimore

While we’re at the Walters Art Museum (see the previous couple of posts), let’s check out this interesting Boddhisattva. As you can see from this detail, the enigmatically smiling figure has an oddly square face and jaw, with very wide eyes. Features such as these, along with the drapery on the shoulders, lead the Walters curators to suppose that it may have been made in what is today Shaanxi province, in the sixth century.

Standing Bodhisattva, 6th century. China, Shaanxi province. Limestone. Acquired by Henry Walters, 1920, 25.5.

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Ganesha

16 July, 2008 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, medieval, south asia | By: xensen

ganesha, walters art museum, baltimore

Here’s another great Ganesha from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimor. This one was made in Bihar in the eleventh century, during the Pala dynasty. The material is muscovite biotite schist. Gift of J. Gilman d’Arcy Paul, 1967, 25.49.

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