Asian ArtThe MGMoA’s Asian collection includes ancient Chinese bronzes, Tang dynasty terra cotta figures and Buddha statues from across Southeast Asia.
Gallery - Asian
The Jue and Gu are both Chinese bronze ceremonial wine cups from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600 BC– 1046 BC). These would have been buried with a wealthy person for use in the afterlife. The designs revealed on the Jue and the Gu include a taotie, an ogre mask which depicts a monster that protects the owner from harm by eating their enemies. This face is centered on the two raised dots for eyes. This flattened face is made up of two profiles of the monster. The Gui, the lidded bowl, is from the Zhou dynasty (1046-256 BC) and is a funerary item for use in the afterlife. The greenish color of the bronze is called a patina and comes from the interaction of the minerals in the soil with the bronze and moisture over time.
During the Tang dynasty, wealthy people were buried with terra cotta figures such as soldiers, guardians, entertainers, and animals representing what one might find useful in the afterlife, while displaying the affluence and status of the deceased. These figures were made from light-colored earthenware clays, partly using molds with added sections that were joined together. The insides were often hollow or had holes to prevent unwanted distortion of the object when fired. The polychrome (multicolored) glaze is called sancai (meaning "three colors"), typically made from a lead glaze with mineral pigments of copper (for green), iron (for brown and amber), and cobalt (for blue), and fired at a temperature of about 800–1000 C°. The production of sancai wares flourished between the late 600s and mid-700s, mainly in northern China. The bactrian (two-humped) camel was used to haul trade goods along the silk roads leading out of China across the western regions into Central Asia and beyond.
The MGMoA has Buddha statues from across Asia. One of these Buddha statues is from Burma, modern day Myanmar. About 90% of the population of Myanmar is Buddhist and most practice the Theravada tradition. Buddha statues have different mudras or hand positions that represent a moment in the Buddha’s life. This Buddha displays the Bhumisparsha mudra or earth touching gesture. This gesture represents the moment of the Buddha's awakening as he claims the earth as the witness of his enlightenment. The elongated ears illustrate that Buddha can hear the cries of the suffering around the world. Long ears signify wisdom and compassion. The ushnisha, or crown of hair, is the part that rises from the top of his head.