The Lands of Asia Come to the Kimbell 

Lion, China, Tang dynasty (618–907 AD), marble

On March 4, over four hundred objects representing key periods in the history of the art of China, Japan, Tibet, and Korea will be exhibited in Fort Worth, Texas. From the Lands of Asia exhibits Sam and Myrna Myers’ massive collection of over five thousand works. 

The exhibition revolves around a passion for Asia and covers a broad historical range, from the Neolithic era to modern times. The objects are also highly varied in nature, from porcelain, ivory, and precious stones such as jade and rock crystal to Buddhist art and textiles and stunning costumes from Central Asia, Tibet, China, and Japan. Split into four categories Costumes and Customs, An Ocean of Porcelain, A Thousand Years of Buddhism, and The Magic of Jade each gallery is meant to represent important aspects of the daily lives represented throughout the centuries in Asia-from customs, religion, and trends throughout the landscape. 

Nagaraja, Tibet, 15th century, gilt bronze

Textiles have always played a prominent role in East Asian culture. Clothing from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries is an endless source of information about the customs of these diverse societies. To discover this richly woven world, the exhibition considers the different types of people who wore this clothing: officials and scholars, courtesans and actors, dancers and cavaliers. Whether from China, Tibet, Japan, or Uzbekistan, these garments embody the social values of these cultures and reflect the status and personality of those who wore them. 

The Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) changed the course of history by introducing the new technique of applying under-glaze cobalt blue to white porcelain. Ceramics, which had been the art of clay, became the art of the brush. Making porcelain became an industry, which, in turn, evolved into international commerce. During Ming reign (1368–1644), blue-and-white porcelain continued to play a key role. Adopted by the court, it was coveted by scholars, gained widespread popularity, and was exported around the world.

From India, the Buddhist faith was gradually transmitted along the Silk Road by missionaries, merchants, and pilgrims to East Asia, where it served as a major cultural force. In its long history, it experienced both prosperity and suppression; its triumph can be variously attributed to imperial patronage, the universal appeal of salvation obtainable to all, and its ability to adapt to different cultures and assimilate native beliefs. In the Buddhist art of China, Korea, Japan, and Tibet, Indian models provided the basis for style and iconography, but ultimately, each culture created a vocabulary imbued with its own artistic traditions, resulting in a corpus of Buddhist art exhibiting a rich variety of styles in a wide range of media.

Kendi, China, Ming dynasty, 16th century, blue-and-white porcelain

In China, jade was revered as the most precious of stones. Rare, mysterious, and difficult to carve, it was used to organize daily life and, at the same time, symbolized the chaos of the invisible forces of the universe. Believed to possess special powers and magical properties, the Chinese manipulated jade to create an extraordinary array of ritual objects and tools, ceremonial weapons and royal insignia, ornaments and fittings, figural sculpture, and funerary attire.

The exhibition recounts fascinating historical events through themes such as the symbolism of Chinese jade, the trade in blue-and-white porcelain, Buddhism, Noh theater, the Japanese samurai, the tea ceremony, and the scholar’s studio. 

The array of outstanding works of art in the Myers collection is testimony to Asia’s rich cultural heritage and unique customs and offers a broad panorama of Asian history in all its beauty and diversity. 

Discover more on the exhibition here.

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