Sunday, July 03, 2005

Tibetan Treasures

The Asian Art Museum has a special exhibit called "Tibet: Treasures from the Roof of the World." Ethnic Tibetans are not particularly amused by the exhibit since it's been assembled by the Republic of China with "stolen" items, which I wrote about here.

I started the tour by saying hello to Marlena in the cute museum cafe.

To get to the permanent collection, there is a large glass-enclosed escalator.
It's quite beautiful, but unfortunately it looks out on nothing more than the ugly Hastings College and the roof of the museum.

The museum should at least put a Japanese rock garden on the roof to give the escalator ride some visual interest.

At the beginning of the permanent collection, there is an amusing bit of signage, which states that there is no such thing as "Asia," which is a Western construct.

They explained that the collection was divided into a number of geographical groups, which are differentiated by different color schemes on their walls. It starts with India, goes to Southeast Asia (Thailand, the Philippines, etc.), and then travels to the Himalayas which is painted in a deep, terra red.

Tibetan art is not all pacific Buddhas.

In fact, there are a lot of demons involved.

My favorite commentary on the labels around the art tell us what they symbolize, and somehow it's never quite what's right in front of your eyes, as in "having sex."

I returned to the first floor for the special exhibit.

The three rooms of "treasures" really are extraordinary.

According to a catalogue, "Tibet's dry climate has preserved the brilliant colors of these tapestries to an astonishing degree."

They're not kidding. These 300-year-old pieces look like they were created yesterday.

The statues are wild...

...and so are the various "objets" like this huge horn and its skeleton holders.

Check it out.


the Witch said...

Beautiful work, Mike.

Now do tell: how'd you sneak the photos inside of the exhibits?

sfmike said...

By being very sneaky and discreet...Also, I don't ever use a flash, but use Photoshop to bump up the light levels instead.

Actually, the museum allows one to take photos everywhere but the "special" exhibits, so I was being only half felonious.

the Witch said...

You're a gem, Mike! ;-)