Barong Elephant Mask
After seven years, I'm picking up where I left off. I last posted on a mask from Burma. This is another mask. A mask from Bali acquired by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
My neighbor went to Burma a couple of years ago and brought this mask back. It's a beautiful and compelling image.
Kenji Hasegawa, a master Japanese craftsman, has just completed a new restaurant in San Francisco. Click here to go to his website .
Shanxi Province - China
I'm riding in an air-conditioned bus, playing with my ipad, on my way to see the oldest wooden structure in China, the Nanchan Temple built in the 8th Centure. My eyes lift up and out towards a scene that could be just as old - a farmer plowing the field. The skies are grey from coal coughed exhausts sending power to factories. I sip chilled water from my plastic bottle.
Nostalgia for the Past
Seen at Rainbow Grocery store in San Francisco, there is a new brand of tea. The striking package design conjures up a multiple of thoughts. Even though economic growth and modernization in China has brought prosperity to many people, many have been left behind. And many have been perplexed with the complexities of modern life and yearn for simpler times -- even hard times.
This socialist worker is holding up what would have been Mao's Little Red Book is now holding up a cup of tea -- all in the service of capitalism - only $7.99.
Chinese Diaspora in Japan
Two Chinese ladies by a Stream - Japanese painting 渓辺二美人図 by Sakai Hyakusen is currently on view at the Berkeley Art Museum. He is considered one of the three founders of the Nanga School in Japan, a group of painters who longed for the ideal life of the Chinese literati of the Ming and early Qing Dynasties and looked to Chinese literati paintings as their model.
James Cahill, the noted Asian Art Historian, explored Sakai Hyakusen's background in a lecture I attended yesterday. Cahill's research on Sakai Hyakusen's life revealed that he was born into a family that operated a Chinese pharmacy and Cahill believes that Sakai Hyakusen was of Chinese descent - a surprising and interesting fact.
Each of the thousands of terra cotta warriors have individual facial features which lead people to believe they were modelled after real people. This one seems like a nice guy.
Your Charriot is ready Mister Qin
This Friday the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit from China opens at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. I was at the museum last week for my docent training and I saw them installing this in the North Court. The horses and charriot are reproductions of the original items, but the actual terra cotta warriers are the real thing.
Nothing is Good Enough for Me
The character "wu" by the great Chinese Calligrapher Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322) from his copy of the Lotus Sutra means "nothing" Wu is central to the Buddhist concept of non-attachment and freedom from desire. Apart from its meaning, look at how beatifully the composition of the character is balanced and the elegance of the brushstrokes.
Training to become a docent at the Asian Art Museum has been a real eye opener. The Asian Art Museum's 338 Seated Buddha is secure behind a glass case at the entrance to Gallery 16 - Chinese Buddhist Art. Pleasant and nice, I never gave it much thought.
At the beginning of this fall training session, we were told that this Buddha is the earliest and most important dated Buddha from China and many people come to the museum just to see it. Well! I'll go take another look. It's important because the inscription in Chinese gives it a reliable date of 338.
I was flipping through my new book on Chinese art and I found this image on the right -- almost identical! It is reported to have been found in 1979 near Xi'an, China. It's also inscribed, but this time in the Kharoshthi language and -- no mention of a date. It is dated approximately 300 or 38 years before the one on the left. With no actual dated inscription, I guess it suddenly comes in second. Little things mean a lot.
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