Entries by Super User

History of the Sound Archives Department

The Museum’s music section was officially established in 1933 at the instigation of Mr. Philippe Stern, at the time Assistant Curator. Well aware of the inevitable process of acculturation already affecting some of the most ancient Asiatic musical traditions, Philippe Stern decided to conserve their tenuous existence for posterity by creating a sound library specifically […]

General map of the Yellow River and Grand Canal

This map charts the course of the Yellow River (Huang he), its source, mouth, and tributaries, as well as mountain ranges and cities. The river’s source in the Kunlun mountains features on the right-hand side of the beginning of the scroll, together with the canal linking the Blue River with Beijing. Each city is symbolized […]


This manuscript contains the commentaries on the Dhammapada “The Verses of Truth” attributed to Buddhaghosa (5th century), the greatest Buddhist commentator in Pali, along with a paraphrase in Burmese. It consists of a sheaf of 484 ollas protected by two 2 cm.-thick boards each pierced with a hole. The boards are made of black lacquered […]

Rtag grol

This manuscript of a work by rMa-ston srol’jin (1092-?), dealing with ritual, consists of 161 oblong folios with 5-line texts on either side of each page written in gold ink on a 6.5 x 28 cm black ground. The folios have a protective cover and the flat outer cardboard surface has a hollowed-out cartouche on […]

Uigur translation of the life of Xuanzang (602-664)

This manuscript, acquired from the David-Weill donation collection with the support of Aline Mayrisch, contains passages from the biography of Xuanzang, one of the most famous translators of Buddhist texts from Sanskrit into Chinese. It is in fact the translation of a Chinese work into Turkish, using an alphabet derived from Aramaic via Sogdian, by […]

Honzo zufu

This work, the preface of which is dated Bunsei 11, or 1828, is a treatise on flora, adopting the plant classification of Li Shi zhen’s Pents’ao kang mu (Benzao gangmu) published in China in 1596. The specimen in the library consists of 87 fascicles (out of the 91 published); certain volumes are wood block printed […]

Printed book in Manchu

This work, one of the very earliest printed books in Manchu, is a compilation of twenty-one episodes dealing with Chinese history, and more particularly the history of the Jin dynasty (1115-1234), ancestors of the Manchu Qing dynasty (1644-1911). A few brief notes on Buddhist and Confucian ethics have been appended. The text, written in ancient […]

Complete works of the first changkya khutukhtu (changkya khutukhtu gsums’bum)

This work, the title page of which has a foliage decoration, contains the full edition in seven “sheaves” of a Mongol translation of the complete works of Nag-dban-blo-bzan-chos-Idan, first changkya khutukhtu (1642-1714), wood-block printed in red ink on paper in Beijing in 1727. Bibliographical information in Chinese, such as the “standard title”, sheaf number, continuous […]

Maiguruma Haikai

This collection of haiku, or short Japanese poems consisting of a single 17-syllable verse, includes a series of works compiled by Kawase Kiei and engraved by Yoshida Gyosen. The photograph presented here shows a work by Hanabusa Ikko. The combination of poetry, illustration and calligraphy, all adopting a common creative technique, contributed to the success […]


This is the original edition of Jayaveda’s pastoral poem, the Gitagovinda, celebrating the loves of Krishna and Radha. The oblong-format work, consisting of 36 folios, is printed on paper in seven lines of Nagari script per page, and the foliation is indicated in the left-hand margin on the back of each page. The volume features […]

Kisah Palayaran Abdullah

This work, an original edition with a period red leather half binding, was printed in 1838 (Hegira 1254) in Singapore on the presses of the American Mission. The author, a writer nowadays regarded as the father of modern Malay literature, recounts the journey he undertook in 1838 on the eastern coast of the Malacca peninsula […]


This is the figure of a warrior, dressed in a robe and wearing a helmet. His features are impassive, his eyes and mouth mere holes pierced in the clay. His baggy trousers are fastened tightly below the knees by a cord, while gauntlets and a dagger are tucked into his belt. The painstaking attention to […]

Sho-Kannon Bosatsu

This religious image portrays the Great Being of Compassion, the bodhisattva Kannon. Standing on a plinth representing a lotus flower, and holding in his left hand a stem of the same flower, the Buddhist symbol of purity, the effigy corresponds to the early iconography of this great bodhisattva, especially revered in Japan in the latter […]

Fugen Bosatsu and the ten Rasetsunyo

This painting depicts the bodhisattva Fugen (Sanskrit Samantabhadra), his hands clasped in a gesture of prayer. He is arriving on a cloud astride his traditional mount: an elephant (rokuge byakuzo), whose six tusks symbolize the six cardinal virtues of Buddhism. This bodhisattva incarnates Practice or Application and appears here- against a plain ultramarine background -as […]

Daruma Meditating

Forsaking anecdotal details or a frame around the principal image, the artist Hakuin has achieved a pure expression of meditation: that undertaken by the first Zen patriarch Daruma (Bodhidarma) who sat facing a rock for nine years. The abstraction of the silhouette, sketched with a swift, confident brushstroke in the manner of an ideogram, conveys […]

Pair of six-panelled screens: “Fans floating on the river”

The landscape depicts a large river flowing through gently rolling banks from one end of the screens to the other -one of the “famous places” meisho, painted since the Heian period (794-1185). It can be identified as the river Uji from the water wheel, the fishermen’s nets and the silvery waves. A series of fans, […]

Dish with Three Jars decoration (sanko)

This dish sara has a gently rounded curve and stands on a high base. It has a classic form known as “wooden base bowl”. The exterior of the base was frequently decorated with a “comb-shaped design” Kushijo consisting of regularly spaced vertical lines. The jar motif is symmetrically repeated three times sanpô moyô in a […]

The Musashi Plain (Mushashino: Tale of Ise)

These three prints depict an episode from the Tale of Ise (Ise monogatari), in this case the flight of the illicit lovers. The couple, hiding among the reeds in the Musashi plain, is lit by the rising full moon, magnificently represented in pulverized white mica. This particular scene shows the discovery of the loving couple […]

“Snow Goggle” Dogu

The large, horizontally slit eyes of this statuette have earned it the name of “Snow Goggle Dogu” as their shape is reminiscent of the eye protections used by the Inuit against reflected sun on snow. According to another interpretation, they represent closed eyelids, linking the Dogu to the world of the dead. The head has […]

Writing case (suzuribako)

The decoration on the lid depicts a garden and a pavilion where Prince Kaoru is meditating, sitting beside his writing case. As a counterpoint to the latter, mountains rise in tiers against a hirameji ground, suggesting twilit distances in the manner of landscapes in Yamato-e style paintings. In the foreground, chrysanthemum and campanula stems bend […]

Gigaku Mask

This Gigaku theatre mask represents Karura, a divine bird in Indian mythology that was introduced into the Japanese Buddhist pantheon as one of the eight guardian divinities. The bird’s ferocious appearance is heightened by its long hooked beak, framed by red feathers, in which it holds a pearl. Originally the bird boasted a crest, which […]

Head of Buddha

From the earliest centuries of our era, the region of Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh in the Southern Deccan was a flourishing Buddhist centre that witnessed the development of a highly original art. Despite some subtle foreign influences, this work remains fundamentally Indian. The elongated face recalls certain specifically Dravidian features: the earlobes are distended, the […]

Nagaraja “Serpent King”

The Nagaraja, or “Serpent King”, is a traditional figure in the Indian pantheon of naturespirits. The deity is represented in composite form: part man, part animal. The back consists of a series of reptilian coils; both the human and snake heads are missing and were originally surmounted by the hoods of a polycephalous cobra. In […]

The Surrender of Kandahar

This miniature depicts the surrender of Persian troops- seen on the right, on horseback or on foot-handing over the keys to the city to Kilij Khan whose haughty silhouette appears on the left, mounted on a white steed and wearing a black-plumed turban. The panoramic tableau- heightened by the plunging view over the city that […]

Young woman listening to music

This miniature in the Guler style is a graceful, sensitive evocation of a young queen, shown leisurely smoking a narghile while dreamily listening to two female musicians. In a highly poetic vein, it attests to the Upper Punjab artists’ taste for intimist scenes, at the same time illustrating the essential qualities of Guler art in […]

The Tirthankara Rishabanatha

This sculpted sandstone effigy represents Rishabanatha (or Adinatha), first of the twenty- fourJain Tirthankara (ford makers). In the Jain religion, these are masters whose role is to transmit fundamental doctrinal tenets down the centuries. The Jina Rishabanatha is portrayed naked, seated on a cushion in the lotus or vajraparyankasana diamond position. His hands are clasped […]

Buddha Torso

This torso of Buddha, sculpted in the characteristic pink sandstone of the Mathura region, epitomizes the style of the workshops of this school during the Gupta period. The perfectly symmetrical, frontally represented, standing figure formerly projected in very high relief from a slab of the same material. The Buddha-nowadays headless-displays a particularly sensitive modelling specific […]

Female bust backed by foliage

In India, since the most ancient times, woman has been the object of special devotion. Indusvalley figurines, fertility deities, and the goddess figures standing guard at the entrances to Gupta holy places are all illustrative of the fact that the female image – right up to the medieval period – was an eternal theme for […]

Huqqa (water pipe) base

This bidri water pipe (huqqa) base has a floral decoration of poppies and irises, the upper and lower areas of which are framed by geometric friezes. The motifs are highly stylized, in accordance with Islamic tradition that prefers abstract or calligraphic floral themes to animal or human representations. In pieces dating from this period, arabesque […]

Silla Crown

Made from thin sheets of gilded metal, cut and smoothed using a technique inherited from traditions deriving from the Steppe, this crown consists of a circular headband topped by five trident-shaped branches. Cut in symbolic fashion, these branches seem to evoke the branches of a tree, or the shape of a mountain, or even the […]

Panga sayu sang Meditating Bodhisattva

This late 6th century gilt bronze bodhisattva is a masterpiece of Paekche statuary from the Three Kingdoms period (1st-7th century CE). Although possessing a highly personal style, it testifies to the opening up of Korea to continental influences. The youthful face with its adolescent charm displays a genuinely glowing, attractive smile-the celebrated Paekche smile-which distinguishes […]

1000-armed Avalokiteshvara, chonsu kwanum posal

This impressive cast iron piece, complete with its original gilding, represents the image of the “thousand-armed, thousand-eyed Avalokitesvara” chonsu kwanum posal. Seated in the oriental posture, the 43-handed entity (each hand with a different attribute) appears to be gently bowing at the feet of a small Amitabha Buddha held over his head by two of […]

Teaching Buddha, making the gesture of preaching

The restrained, remarkably refined, and profoundly meditative figure of this “teaching Buddha”, ranks not only as one of the finest Buddhist representations but illustrates the embryonic development of the specific esthetic approach of the Koryo period (918-1392 CE). The technique, unconstrained by a certain rigidity and hieratic attitude that to a certain extent dominated the […]

Maebyong vase, celadon glaze

This large maebyong vase is the Korean version of the Chinese meiping-a type of porcelain already appreciated by the Chinese Northern Sung dynasty (960-1127), and regarded by Koryo ceramicists, whose fame is universally acknowledged, as a veritable tour de force. The vase has a delicately executed floral decoration beneath a shimmering blue-green celadon glaze and […]

Eight-panel folding screen: genre scenes

This painted silk folding screen is signed Kim Hong-do (1745-1815?). Following the changing cycle of seasons, the artist has delicately depicted scenes from the daily life of the aristocracy during the Choson period. The various panels portray the dignitary in his sedan chair, travelers crossing paths against the backdrop of a landscape, a passing rider […]

Ten-panel folding screen: flowers and birds

The strikingly Hwajodo “flowers and birds” motif used by Yi Han-Ch’ol (1812-1902) reveals a meticulous attention to detail and testifies to the artist’s acute sense of observation and realism. The subjects are depicted with extreme delicacy and lightness of touch yet do not lack precision. Skillfully adopting a technique inherited from Ming dynasty China (1368-1644), […]

Portrait of the high-ranking dignitary, Cho Man-Yong

This work is a masterpiece of restraint, skillfully blending naturalism and psychological realism. The three-quarter-length portrait is set against a plain, deliberately abstract background. The sitter’s forceful presence is heightened by the intensity of his gaze, his hieratic bearing and his dignified features, marked by age and experience. Contours and shading have been applied with […]


This mask is made out of wood and covered in light beige fabric (like the seven others collected by the Varat Mission and which are now in the Musée Guimet). On top of the original, delicately-nuanced polychrome paint, two further coats have been added at a much later date. The artefact depicts a perfectly oval […]

Jar with dragon decoration

The decoration here depicts a dragon lost in the clouds-a theme introduced from China and a commonly found feature in works by scholarly and professional painters. The frequency of its use in the 17th century points to a specifically Korean graphic concern, perhaps indicative of a preoccupation peculiar to a period that witnessed a gradual […]

Fluted bowl

This ewer, with its globe-shaped belly and high, fluted neck, has an extensive carved floral decoration under a blue-green glaze. Characteristic carvings on productions from the Yaozhou kilns under the early Song were deeply incised on this type of piece as much as 5mm deep producing graceful contrasts between the shaded zones created by the […]