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Samurai samba

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

Indian Summer

7 May, 2009 (05:00) | south asia | By: xensen

Kew Gardens and the British Museum have teamed up on a project called Indian Summer that sounds very cool.

J. S. Marcus writes in the WSJ:

Kew has … installed a special Indian garden in the museum’s forecourt. Designed by Kew horticulturalists Steve Ruddy and Richard Wilford, “India Landscape” transforms 440 square meters of lawn into a concise overview of the Indian subcontinent’s three main habitats: the Himalayan Mountains, the temperate woodlands of the Himalayan foothills and the humid subtropical lowlands.

The Himalayas are conjured up with a vertical rock garden, surrounded by pine trees and cranesbill. The temperate zone includes a Himalayan walnut tree and a blue poppy, one of the world’s truly blue flowers. The subtropical regions come to life thanks to a lotus filled pond, and a mature banyan tree. The winding path, in the shadow of the British Museum’s neoclassical fa├žade, has a dense but spacious quality, and the gardeners have somehow managed to create a sense of north-south travel as we make our way from barren rocks to the spidery lushness of the banyan.

The British Museum will collaborate with Kew on:

  • Garden and Cosmos: the Royal Paintings of Jodhpur, May 28 to August 23.
  • India Landscape, May 2 to September 28, British Museum forecourt, free.
    Culture of import
  • A Bollywood film festival
  • Evenings of Indian performance, dance, music, and food
  • Lunchtime lectures in the new garden, by museum curators and Kew gardeners, on Indian medicinal plants, horticulture, landscapes and ecology
  • Painting and printing workshops, recreating traditional Indian craft techniques

A nice program!

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Lopen Neten and Lopen Gyem performing pujas

16 April, 2009 (05:00) | himalayas, literature/performance/film/music | By: xensen

In conjunction with its exhibition The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan, the Asian Art Museum is hosting two Bhutanese monks, Lopen Neten, who is from eastern Bhutan, and Lopen Gyem, who is from western Bhutan. The monks created a beautiful sand mandala that can be glimpsed in this video and are now working on a second one.

Usually work on the mandala occurs around 1:00. At about 11:00 and 3:00 the monks perform their prayer, or pujas, as viewed here from the second floor walkway.

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Ani Choying Drolmna

3 March, 2009 (05:00) | himalayas, literature/performance/film/music | By: xensen

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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Vajrabhairava’s war dance

9 February, 2009 (05:00) | himalayas, modern, paintings | 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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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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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

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

Photo Wednesday: Bali cremation ceremony

20 August, 2008 (05:00) | literature/performance/film/music, southeast asia | By: xensen

Kazuaki Tanahashi, part 2

18 August, 2008 (05:00) | japan | By: xensen

Morihei Ueshiba

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

Kazuaki Tanahashi

11 August, 2008 (05:00) | japan | By: xensen

Filipino costumes

4 August, 2008 (05:00) | decorative arts / textiles, southeast asia | By: xensen

filipina woman in native costume

The estimable Peacay of BibliOdyssey has posted a series of images of Filipino men and women in typical costumes. Most of the images, like this one, simply called “Old Woman,” are taken from a 1941 an 1841 book available online from the New York Public Library. While the images have a bit of the whiff of colonialism and the specimen book, they are still fascinating historical documents, not least as examples of the watercolor arts of the nineteenth-century.

Photo Wednesday: Kechak

30 July, 2008 (05:00) | literature/performance/film/music, southeast asia | By: xensen

kechak, a dance performance of bali

While we’re on the subject of Indonesian ritual, here is an image of a Kechak dance from www.viajar24h.com’ s photostream.

This dance tells stories from the Ramayana myth. One of its features is a large chorus of young men, said to represent a forest full of monkeys. The men provide the music for the performance by making percussive sounds.

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Some posts related to Southeast Asia:
[catlist ID=9 numberposts=10]

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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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Photo Wednesday: Borobudur

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