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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.

Asian Art Museum blog

20 May, 2009 (05:00) | links | By: xensen

Anyone with an interest in Asian art and culture would be well advised to bookmark or subscribe to the Asian Art Museum’s new blog. The museum team has put a lot of interesting content up already — and the curators haven’t even joined in yet (but will soon).

LINK: Asian Art Museum blog


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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Asian Art Museum YouTube channel

10 November, 2008 (05:00) | resources | By: xensen

The Asian Art Museum is one of the largest museums in the West devoted entirely to Asian Art. I believe it is also the first San Francisco museum to have a nonprofit YouTube Channel. Click the screen shot to visit.

Asian Art Museum youtube channel


The official AAM site is here.


Photo Wednesday Returns

22 June, 2016 (15:43) | Uncategorized | By: xensen

Hong Kong Sunset, by Mike Behnken

Hong Kong Sunset, by Mike Behnken.

I’m reactivating this website after a long period of inactivity while I was working on print projects. (The reactivation began with the previous post, a review of Emperors’ Treasures, the summer exhibition of the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.) Books I’ve published in recent years include:

Today’s photo, of a Hong Kong sunset, comes from Mike Behnken’s photo stream.


To the Nines

18 June, 2016 (11:28) | china | By: xensen

Emperors’ Treasures: Chinese Art from the National Palace Museum, Taipei

Now on view at the Asian Art Museum

Nine goats bring peace to the New Year. Qing dynasty, reign of Emperor Qianlong (1736–1795). Tapestry (kesi) with embroidery. National Palace Museum, Taipei, Gusi 000096. Photograph © National Palace Museum, Taipei.

Nine goats bring peace to the New Year. Qing dynasty, reign of the Qianlong emperor (1736–1795). Tapestry (kesi) with embroidery. National Palace Museum, Taipei, Gusi 000096. Photograph © National Palace Museum, Taipei.

Emperors’ Treasures, which opened to the public at the Asian Art Museum yesterday and continues through September 18, is an exhibition of greatest hits from the Chinese imperial collections. Objects on display span nearly a millennium of imperial rule, from the time of the early Song-dynasty ruler the Huizong emperor, who reigned in the early twelfth century, through that of the formidable regent Cixi (pronounced something like “Tsuhshee”), the Qing-dynasty counterpoint to England’s Victoria, who ruled by proxy from 1861 through 1908. Objects are grouped around a set of nine Chinese rulers.

Museum exhibitions might be divided into those that are narrative-driven and those that are great objects driven (the latter might be termed “connoisseur shows”). I confess to a preference for narrative, but the objects on display in Emperors’ Treasures are of such high quality and have so rarely toured that this is a show not to be missed if you have any interest at all in imperial Chinese art. If you’re a selective museum-goer who is likely to attend only a couple of AAM exhibitions this year, this one and  the Ramayana show opening in October are the ones to see.

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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.


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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Friday roundup

11 September, 2009 (06:00) | links | By: xensen

“Take advantage of what exists.” — Laozi

Indra’s lute

6 August, 2009 (05:00) | modern, paintings, 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.

Friday roundup

24 July, 2009 (05:00) | links | By: xensen

“Take advantage of what exists.” — Laozi

Friday roundup

29 May, 2009 (05:00) | links | By: xensen

Take advantage of what exists. — Laozi


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.


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.


Friday roundup

13 February, 2009 (05:00) | links | By: xensen

“Take advantage of what exists.” — Laozi



11 February, 2009 (19:54) | | By: xensen


The tags index below does not include the upper-level category terms that appear under the “regions,” “eras,” and “mediums” tabs at left…. Regions include China; Himalayas (Tibet, Nepal, Butan); Japan; Korea, South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh); Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei); and West Asia (Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, etc.)…. Eras include Neolithic (6000-2000); Ancient (2000-200 BCE); Classical (200 BCE-500 CE); Medieval (500-1500); Premodern-Modern (1500-1900); Twentieth Century; and Contemporary…. Mediums include Architecture and large public projects; Work in ceramics, metal, jade and stones; Literature and performance (including drama, music, film); Paintings, calligraphy; Prints and photographs; Sculpture; and Textiles, decorative arts, and objects of daily life.


I’ve removed the tag “Asian Art Museum,” as it had too many entries and was distorting the tag cloud. If you’re interested in seeing what I have related to the AAM, use this search (via Google) or this search (via php) instead.

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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Twitter catching on in museum world

2 February, 2009 (05:00) | resources | By: xensen

Museums are getting hip to twitter. The Asian Art Museum is one of many that has an official presence:


Among the AAM twitter friends you will find many more art museums.

I’m here, BTW: