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Category: ceramics/metal/stone

Photo Wednesday: Shravanabelagola

6 July, 2016 (12:27) | ceramics/metal/stone, medieval, south asia | By: xensen

Gommateshvara Bahubali, Shravanabelagola

Gommateshvara Bahubali , Shravanabelagola.

This image from the Indian city of Shravanabelagola (about 160 km km from Bangalore), is from cotaro70‘s photostream. The city is home to an enormous late 10th-century statue of statue of Gomma?e?vara Bahubali. Bahubali, who is said to have meditated motionless in a standing position for a year, is a revered figure in Jainism, and the site is an important Jain pilgrimage center.

 

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)

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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.

The spirit of stones

17 August, 2009 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, japan | By: xensen

Stones in Japan are used for bridges, water containers, lanterns, and many other purposes. They are especially used as steps on paths.

In an echo of Japan’s animistic native beliefs, stones are chosen for the spirit they emanate. They form a link between people and the earth. Stones that are scored or pitted or covered with moss evoke the spirit of wabi-sabi — of harmonious simplicity and impermanence (more on this in a subsequent post).

This image of petal-covered stepping stone as Shokokuji, a Rinzai Zen temple in Kyoto, comes from EYLC’s photostream.

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.

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San Francisco Zen Center tour of Asian Art Museum

9 January, 2009 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, japan | By: xensen

logo of san francisco zen center featuring an enso by founder suzuki roshi

Folks in the San Francisco area on February 26, March 26, or April 23 this year have an opportunity to tour the Asian Art Museum with members of the San Francisco Zen Center. Each group is limited to 15 people. Cost is $20, which includes $15 for dinner in the Asian’s private dining area, which is usually restricted mainly to high-level donors. Sign-up is by e-mail to events [at] sfzc [dot] org, specifying a date.

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Trailer for Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul

27 October, 2008 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, literature/performance/film/music, west asia | By: xensen

The endangered Indonesian dagger (kris)

28 July, 2008 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, literature/performance/film/music, southeast asia | By: xensen

indonesian kris ritual

According to legend, Ken Arok, founder of the 13th-century Hindu-Buddhist Singosari kingdom, won his throne through a series of murders accomplished with a wavy dagger called a kris. Ken Arok’s dagger was powerful but it was also cursed, and ultimately it also killed its owner.

In Indonesian trance rituals, celebrants in trance states may stab themselves with krises. (Krises are also found in Malaysia, Brunei, Southern Thailand and the southern Philippines.) I think the stabbing is mostly symbolic, as several observers report they result in little or no blood.

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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

Dancing Ganesha

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

dancing ganesha from the collection of the walters art museum, baltimore

Here’s another great dancing Ganesha. This one is in the collection of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. From Uttar Pradesh, it dates from the ninth or tenth century. I took this photo of a detail of the sculpture when I was visiting Baltimore recently. The label includes this charming commentary:

Like his father [Shiva], Ganesha combines opposing traits: he is a leader of Shiva’s troops, but he is also lovable (there is a bowl of sweets beneath the tip of his trunk). He dances in imitation of his father’s cosmic dance. Ganesha became the lord of beginnings for Hindus and is prayed to at the start of an endeavor. [See early posts on this blog.] Images such as this one were placed in the southern exterior niche of a temple, to be encountered first in a ritual walk around the outside of a temple.

Dancing Ganesha, 9th-10th century, India: Uttar Pradesh, sandstone, gift of John and Bertha Fora, 2004, 25-253.

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Zhan Wang’s San Francisco

30 June, 2008 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, china, contemporary | By: xensen

Conical fritware bowl from thirteenth-century Iran

5 May, 2008 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, medieval, west asia | By: xensen

iranian fritware conical bowl

This is a spread from the book I am working on on Persian ceramics from the collection of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (I’m still waiting for final text). The object is a fritware conical bowl painted with “panel style” decoration in underglaze blue and black manganese (The Avery Brundage Collection, B60P1893).

Firt is a ground glasslike substance (I think potash and quartz were the main ingredients) that, added to clay, reduces its firing temperature, which is helpful for applying overglazes. It was used in West Asian pottery to produce a fine white base that imitated the quality of Chinese porcelain.

The bowl dates from the first half of the thirteenth century, and, according to the curators, may be from Kashan in Iran. Poetic verses in white on the black areas express longing for the absence of a beloved.

Photos by Kaz Tsuruta.

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Lotfollah mosque, Isfahan, outside view

1 May, 2008 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, early modern, west asia | By: xensen

Lotfollah mosque

30 April, 2008 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, early modern, west asia | By: xensen

lotfolla mosque, isfahan, iran

This spectacular photo from seier+seier+seier’ s photostream shows the dome of the Lotfollah mosque in Isfahan. I have been working on a book on Persian ceramics lately; just today I was placing Isfahan on a map that will appear in the book. Isfahan, now in Iran (about 340 km south of Tehran), was a major city during the Safavid Seljuk period and for a time the capital of Safavid Seljuk Persia.

This will be a cool book — I’ll post some images from it soon — featuring tiles, vessels, bowls, and small statuary. But nothing in it is as grand as this majestic dome, which dates from the early seventeenth century.

Compare this dome’s burst of color and pattern with a sunflower image I posted recently on another of my blogs (buriedmirror.com, devoted to Mesoamerica).

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Endless warriors

29 April, 2008 (05:00) | ancient, ceramics/metal/stone, china | By: xensen

the first emperor's warriors

Can’t get enough of the First Emperor’s terra-cotta warriors? Well, you’re in luck: The Bowers Museum is presenting the largest loan of the terra-cotta figures ever, called Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor. The exhibition opens May 18 and runs through October 12. What a cash cow this discovery has turned out to be!

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Mu Rui’s medallion

23 April, 2008 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, china, early modern | By: xensen

gold plaque given mu rui by the yongle emperor, from the najing municipal museum

Recently I’ve been reading Perpetual Happiness by Shihi-Shan Henry Tsai, a biography of Zhu Di, who ruled the Ming dynasty as the Yongle emperor from 1403–1424 (more on this later). Formerly the Prince of Yan, the Yongle emperor usurped the throne from his nephew and moved the Ming capital from Nanjing to his personal power base at Beijing; in 1406 he began construction of what would become the Forbidden City.

This gold medallion, now in the Nanjing Municipal Museum, was buried in the tomb of Ma rui in 1627, during the reign of the Tianqi emperor (1621–1627).; it was discovered during a 1974 excavation near Nanjing. Mu Rui served as the Yongle emperor’s Vice Commissioner-in-Chief, but he was implicated in an attempted revolt. He died in prison in 1609. How did he obtain this plaque? In the forthcoming catalogue of the Asian Art Museum’s exhibition of Ming court arts, He Li offers an explanation:

A court record may provide a clue. In 1408, the Yongle emperor held a banquet to celebrate a successful battle against Annam, in which Mu Sheng was the chief commander (see cat. no. 103). The emperor is said to have awarded to the guest of honor, Mu Sheng, items including the emperor’s own handwritten poem, a jade belt, and a golden plaque (Mingshi, chap. 126, p. 7397); the latter was most likely the surviving medallion here. With the commands possibly engraved by Sheng, it must have been passed down as a family heirloom to later generations. Unfortunately, two hundred years later, its orders were sullied by Mu Rui. Eighteen years after his death, the family was able to conduct Mu Rui’s funeral. By burying the prestigious medallion with him, they announced the end of the legendary name of Mu, which had once been glorified for its support of the Ming court.

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Ming bling

21 April, 2008 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, china, early modern | By: xensen

ming dynasty lotus ornament from nanjing municipal museum

My mind has been on China’s Ming dynasty (1368–1644) recently because of the show of Ming dynasty court art that is coming up this summer at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. So let’s look at a few examples from this long-lasting dynasty (the last to be ruled by native Chinese).

Shown here is an ornament of nephrite and gold depicting a lotus pond, from the Nanjing Municipal Museum. Egrets and aquatic plants appear beneath two large lotus leaves. According to He Li, there is some uncertainty whether such ornaments, used as hat knobs during the previous Mongol Yuan dynasty, were repurposed during the Ming as covers for vessels.

According to Terese Tse Bartholomew, the combination of lotus and egret is a rebus, or visual pun, signifying a wish for advancement in the governmental meritocracy. This is because “egret” is pronounced lu and “lotus” lian; together the two words suggest yilu lianke, or “May you pass your [civil service] exams all the way.”

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