Entrées par Super User

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

zhulong (Dragon-pig)

The zhulong (literally, « dragon-pig »), a magical creature, has a snakelike body wrapped around an orifice culminating in a pig’s head with two forcefully pricked-up ears, round eyes, and a flat, wrinkled snout. It is a hybrid being, and the cross between pig and snake reflects a society of farmers and stockbreeders. Ancient Chinese jade was […]

cong (jade tube)

The square outer section of this piece encloses an empty cylinder. At the corners of the interlocking square and circle is a series of seven diagrammatic masks, the precise meaning of which remains uncertain. Although it might formally derive from ornaments such as tubular pearls or bracelets it was nevertheless intended for ritual use. Such […]

Camondo zun (wine vessel)

Despite its monumental appearance, this standing elephant with its raised trunk is in fact a recipient, the hollow interior of was filled from a square opening on the animal’s back (the lid is now missing). On each flank, the long ribboned bas relief taotie ornamentation is submerged in a background of leiwen. Scales that extend […]

liding (sacrificial vase)

This liding funerary recipient is composed of three juxtaposed sheep heads. Out of each head emerges a foot, and the six interwoven horns define the form of the piece itself. Its powerful architecture comes from the extreme tension of the heads that seem to be thrusting outwards into space. In the late Neolithic period the […]

Deer-shaped drum mounting

This reclining deer with its legs folded along its body, oval-shaped head held high and its muzzle in the air, seems almost alive. It is composed of three lacquered wood elements, topped by a pair of fossilized antlers bearing polychrome traces. A flat disc serving as a drum is fixed to the rear hind flank. […]

Silver Casket, dated 1024

Esthetically, this cubical casket mounted on a low, flared base and with a bevel-edged lid shows similarities to objects from the Tang dynasty (618-907), in particular a series of Buddhist reliquaries from the Famen temple. The Tang influence is also found in the choice of images, such as the four repoussé figures of half-animal, half-human […]

Northern celadon ewer

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 […]

Standing Buddha

Buddha is represented standing, his legs slightly spread. The body is entirely concealed beneath the samghati (religious cloak), a characteristic of this period (although other sculpted images from the same period do pay attention to visual volume). The distinctly Chinese face with chubby cheeks and linked, arching eyebrows is quite different from the Gandharian morphology […]

Jiandiping amphora

This amphora has a slender profile. The narrow neck extends downwards into a sloping shoulder before joining the belly with its gently rounded sides and conical-shaped bottom, while the top of the cylindrical neck swells slightly outwards. The neck opens into a straight, flat-lipped mouth. Two symmetrical ear-like handles are provided half way up the […]


Originally, this wardrobe was one of a pair, and was topped by a chest for the storage of headdresses. The vast proportions of the palace rooms explain the monumental aspect of the whole piece of furniture, over three meters high. Its decoration depicts dragons imperial symbols looming like spirits in a kind of magic mirror. […]

Thousand Flowers Vase

The reign of Qianlong witnessed a gradual lessening of formal elegance in the arts: the overall unity of many pieces was often overshadowed by accomplished technique. Decorations sought to imitate all kinds of materials jade, bronze and silk. This « Thousand Flowers » vase, adorned with hundreds of intermingled chrysanthemums, peonies, lilies, morning glories, magnolias, roses and […]

Pack-camel and camel driver

The sculptor’s treatment of the fur of this Bactriane camel is hyper-realist, a convention that first emerged towards the 6th century CE. Funerary camel figurines became increasingly common in China from the Northern Wei dynasty onwards, reaching their peak under the Tang. Although numerous specimens exist, representations of loaded and mounted animals are more rare. […]

The Mausoleum of the first Emperor, Qin shihuang

The significance of this site where, sixty years later, a terracotta army of more than six thousand warriors guarding the tomb of the first Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi (221-210 BCE), would be unearthed, did not escape the attention of its photographer. On 16 February 1914, the members of the Segalen Mission carried out measured drawings […]

Standing horse mingqi (tomb figure)

This animal, with its body solidly planted on sturdy legs and its prominent eyelids, geometrical jaws and flaring nostrils, has an extraordinarily expressive look, symbolizing the strength of the Chinese horse. The curves and counter-curves of its morphology are deliberately accentuated and executed like a flowing brushstroke. It is a spirited, picturesque work, typical of […]

Statue of the luohan Tamrabhadra

The term luohan (Sanskrit: arhat) describes the Buddhas original disciples who had attained Nirvâna, and the ideal of the Buddhist quest. This statue of the meditating figure, with its outstanding rosary, conveys a particular state of concentration, a blend of vigilance and determination. The figures balance and monumentality, the visual accuracy of the body and […]

Bamboo leaves

This vertical scroll painting depicts the top of a clump of bamboo. The skillfully graduated monochrome ink composition fills the entire height of the space; the foreground leaves are treated with thicker ink, while those in the background are treated with clearer ink, suggesting a misty effect. Bamboo is a symbolic plant, and the graphic […]

Jingting Mountains in autumn

This scroll, which faithfully adopts the traditional Chinese rendering of perspective in successive tiers, depicts a landscape of wooded rocky massifs in the center of which a waterfall plunges into a river. Near a pavilion, hidden in the abundant foliage, a man contemplates the scene. In a colophon, the painter explains the circumstances surrounding his […]

Buddha head

This round, almost spherical head of Buddha -the face dignified and grave, displaying a detached serenity conferred by the smooth modeling and plain, unadorned features- is characteristic of the art of the Northern Qi dynasty where this kind of flowing relief became more pronounced. The small, regular curls of the hair are a sign of […]