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Asian Art


The collection of Asian art at the Metropolitan Museum—more than 35,000 objects, ranging in date from the third millennium B.C. to the twenty-first century—is one of the largest and is the most comprehensive in the West. Each of the many civilizations of Asia is represented by outstanding works, providing an unrivaled experience of the artistic traditions of nearly half the world.

Now at the Met

Eastern Religion Meets Western Science: Conserving Fifteenth-Century Tibetan Initiation Cards

Angela Campbell, Assistant Conservator, Department of Paper Conservation

Posted: Monday, January 5, 2015

In 2000, The Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired a complete set of twenty-five early fifteenth-century Tibetan initiation cards (tsakalis), which are currently on display in the Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas exhibition, on view through June 14, 2015. When these cards were received, the majority of them showed noteworthy damage which was most easily visible along the top edges of the cards. Under microscopic examination, however, it became apparent that the delicate paint layer—composed primarily of natural pigments in a natural gum binder—was also markedly damaged and, in some areas, detaching from the paper support. In the magnified image shown below, the fibrous paper support can be seen under the cracked and lifting paint layer.

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A First Look at Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Friday, December 19, 2014

The exhibition Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas, opening tomorrow, explores Buddhist devotional practices across the vast Himalayan region from the thirteenth through the early twentieth century. These practices included ceremonial dance and musical performance, both important dimensions of Buddhist ritual that unified this vast region, which includes Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, and Mongolia.

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Painting on Silk with Nazanin Hedayat Munroe

Catherine Rust, Studio Programs Intern, Education

Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2014

In October the Studio Workshop event Silk Painting: Kimono-Inspired Designs explored the rich motifs and exciting compositional choices inspired by works from the exhibition Kimono: A Modern History, currently on view through January 19. Students practiced a variety of silk application methods, including paste resist, block printing, and free-hand painting.

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Now at the Met

A Rare Opportunity to See the Genius of Ancient Chinese Bronze Casters

Zhixin Jason Sun, Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A cast-bronze buffalo from the Shanghai Museum is now on view in the exhibition Innovation and Spectacle: Chinese Ritual Bronzes (through March 22, 2015). This fantastic animal-shaped vessel once served as a wine warmer in sacrificial rituals in the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 b.c.).

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Celebrating #NetsukeNovember on Twitter

Anabelle Gambert-Jouan, Graduate Intern, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Monday, November 17, 2014

The Metropolitan Museum of Art boasts a collection of almost one thousand netsuke, with a particular emphasis on works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition to the selection currently displayed in the exhibition Kimono: A Modern History, on view September 27, 2014–January 19, 2015, daily netsuke posts can also be seen on the Museum's Twitter account throughout the month of November as part of the campaign #NetsukeNovember.

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Waves, Waterfalls, and Whirling Water on Japanese Kimono

Monika Bincsik, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The way that kimonos are used and the types of designs to decorate them have shifted dramatically over the last 150 years, shaped by the dialogue of Japanese traditional craft art with modern inventions and Western ideas. As shown in a selection of objects currently found in the exhibition Kimono: A Modern History, on view through January 19, 2015, we can follow this narrative of cultural interaction by focusing on the depiction of water motifs used on kimono.

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The Art of the Chinese Album

Joseph Scheier-Dolberg, Assistant Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Friday, September 12, 2014

During the summer of 1644, the city of Nanjing lived beneath a cloud of anxiety and fear. The once-vibrant southern capital of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) had become home to the remnants of the Ming court, a bedraggled and shaken group who had fled south after the fall of Beijing in April of that year. The shock of seeing their capital fall, of witnessing their young emperor retreat behind the Forbidden City and commit suicide—these were the traumas that the court brought south to Nanjing. Even as they struggled to establish a temporary capital in the south, up north the Manchus prepared to complete their conquest of the empire. Like a city preparing for the arrival of a hurricane, Nanjing waited, and feared.

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Hokusai and Debussy's Evocations of the Sea

Michael Cirigliano II, Website Editor, Digital Media

Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Numerous representations of the sea are woven into the work of Claude Debussy (1862–1918). The French composer regularly referenced his awe of the sea and its power, and even noted that he had "intended for the noble career of a sailor" in a 1912 letter to close friend and composer André Messager. Although the sea had already played a recurring character throughout much of his piano music, the first appearance of this subject in Debussy's orchestral output was the final movement of his 1899 work Trois Nocturnes, "Sirènes," in which he gave life to the deadly mythological seductresses by adding a wordless female choir to the standard orchestral forces.

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In Pursuit of Authenticity: The Epigraphic School of Chinese Calligraphy

Shi-yee Liu, Assistant Research Curator of Chinese Art, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"The Administrator of Kuaiji [Wang Xizhi, ca. 303–ca. 361] is all mannerist cliché.
As the study of calligraphy declines, I enjoy a free rein with a laugh.
Scornful of following known calligraphers like a maid,
I take the stone tablet of Mount Hua as my master."

In 1736, leading artist Jin Nong (1687–1773) wrote this iconoclastic quatrain that reflects a momentous turning point in the development of Chinese calligraphy during his time. Abandoning the venerated tradition defined by the classic elegance of its patriarch, Wang Xizhi, Jin Nong turned to an earlier, less-sophisticated model—stone inscriptions of the ancient Han dynasty (206 b.c.–a.d. 220)—for guidance.

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Now at the Met

Hokusai's Iconic "Great Wave"

John Carpenter, Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The world-renowned landscape print "Under the Wave off Kanagawa"—also known as "the Great Wave"—is now on view in Gallery 231, complementing paintings by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) and his pupils that are currently on display as part of the exhibition The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection.

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Now at the Met offers in-depth articles and multimedia features about the Museum's current exhibitions, events, research, announcements, behind-the-scenes activities, and more.