Category Archives: Material Culture

Metal craft exports up on Chinese demand

23092016083954metalcraft-exports-1000x0
Post Report, Kathmandu

Sep 23, 2016- Earnings from the export of metal craft surged almost fourfold in the last seven years as demand for Buddha statues swelled in Tibet and other parts of China.

Export revenues jumped to Rs1.22 billion in the last fiscal year from Rs366.21 million in 2009-10, the Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal (FHAN) said.

Shipments of metal items have been increasingly constantly over the years, with exports recording a growth of 12.03 percent in the last fiscal year. Earnings from metal craft now make up 26 percent of the total revenues from handicraft exports.

As per FHAN officials, Tibet and central China are the main markets for Nepali metal craft. Nepal exported metal products worth Rs530 million to China in 2015-16. This amount represents almost half of the total income generated from exports of metal craft worldwide.

Another big market for Nepali metal craft is the US, which imported Rs140 million worth of metal products. Other major buyers of Nepali metal craft are Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Europe.
FHAN Vice-President Kiran Dangol said the rise in demand for Buddha statues mainly from the northern neighbour pushed up exports of metal craft. According to him, full-size Buddha statues made of brass are in high demand. The statues range in size from 1 foot to 1.5 feet tall, Dangol added.

Lalitpur district produces 70-80 percent of Nepal’s total output of metal craft. The products are either shipped directly to
overseas markets or sold to Chinese visitors in Nepal.

Exporter Sabin Kumar Shakya said most of their products were sold to monasteries in Tibet and China. Continue reading

BAM’s Buddha and lots more at Asia Week

 A monumental gilt bronze� Buddha from 14th Tibet is on view in the exhibition "Buddhist Art from the Roof of the World" at the Berkeley Art Museum. Courtesy BAMPFA. Photo: BAMPFA Photo: BAMPFA

A monumental gilt bronze� Buddha from 14th Tibet is on view in the exhibition “Buddhist Art from the Roof of the World” at the Berkeley Art Museum. Courtesy BAMPFA. Photo: BAMPFA
Photo: BAMPFA

San Francisco Chronicle, By Jesse Hamlin, September 21, 2016

Julia White was standing in a gallery at the Berkeley Art Museum the other day, gazing up at a monumental gilt-bronze Buddha made by master Tibetan craftsmen in the 14th century.

The blue-haired Buddha exudes an aura of deep tranquillity, the fingers of his right hand turned downward in the mudra, or gesture, of touching the Earth and “calling it to witness his readiness to enter the state of enlightenment,” says White, the museum’s senior curator for Asian art, who made this rare sculpture the centerpiece of the intimate exhibition “Buddhist Art From the Roof of the World,” on view through Nov. 27.

Composed of 30 exquisite sculptures and thangka paintings from Tibet and Nepal, the show is one of many exhibitions, lectures, film screenings and performances taking place during Asia Week San Francisco Bay Area, Friday, Sept. 30-Oct. 8, a celebration of Asian art and culture involving dozens of organizations, from the Japanese American Museum of San Jose to the Mongolia Foundation to the Society for Art & Cultural Heritage of India.

The ancient Buddhist art in Berkeley, created as objects for spiritual devotion, is drawn from a major private collection owned by an anonymous patron who has loaned it long term to the university museum. White kept the show small so she could leave space around each object and let the gallery itself breathe. Continue reading

East meets west in condo near Forest Park filled with Asian art and collectibles

East meets west in condo near Forest Park filled with Asian art and collectibles

East meets west in condo near Forest Park filled with Asian art and collectibles

By Amy Burger Special to the Post-Dispatch Sep 10, 2016

The centerpiece of the spacious dining room is a custom-made Ming-style rosewood dining table and chairs. Display cabinets hold the couple’s collections of Buddha figurines and Cambodian silver. Photo by Huy Mach, hmach@post-dispatch.com

Ada Kaiman welcomes guests into her home with a warm smile and a spread of delicious homemade dumplings — a traditional dish from her native China. She’s adjusting well to a new life in St. Louis with her husband, David, who grew up here — especially considering that it’s the first time she has lived in the United States. The couple moved here in January after three decades of living in Asia — most recently Hong Kong.

Having always lived in an urban environment, they fell in love with the architecture and views afforded by their 1929 high-rise apartment building overlooking Forest Park, as well as the vibrant street life of nearby neighborhoods like the Loop and the Central West End. Ada has enjoyed experiencing all of the culture that St. Louis has to offer.

One glance around the couple’s home, however, makes it clear that they’ve brought much of their Asian experience here with them. David’s mother instilled in him a love of antiques. During his years traveling throughout Asia for his career in banking and financial management, David visited numerous antiques dealers, picking up art, artifacts and furnishings to amass a large collection that includes pieces from China, Cambodia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma and Afghanistan. Continue reading

Take In Beverly Hills Vistas from James Coburn‘s Scenic Home

The Academy Award-winning star of Affliction and his wife, Paula, filled their Beverly Hills house with furnishings reflecting their love of Eastern cultures

Architectural Digest

TEXT BY
SUSAN CHEEVER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY
JIM MCHUGH

dam-images-homes-hollywood-coburn-hosl02_coburn

The piano lounge is often used for dancing. Scalamandré cut velvet and Christopher Hyland damask cover the armchairs next to the fireplace.

Posted September 9, 2016

This article originally appeared in the April 2000 issue of Architectural Digest

He arrived in California in the backseat of a Model A Ford piled high with his family’s belongings. It was 1932, the worst year of the Great Depression, and the Coburns had just driven all the way from dusty Nebraska looking for luck.

Even as a kid, James Coburn was an actor who projected an engaging air of menace: His first role was as King Herod in the school Christmas pageant. Over the years he studied with Stella Adler and Jeff Corey, did advertising gigs and played dozens of supporting roles, working with everyone from Audrey Hepburn and Steve McQueen to Sam Peckinpah and Bruce Lee. The Magnificent Seven (1960) made him a famous cowboy; he was an American-style James Bond in Our Man Flint (1965). Last year, at seventy, Coburn finally found his luck, winning an Oscar for his savage, haunting portrayal of an abusive father in Affliction. A Jaguar and a Mercedes have replaced the family Model A in his gated driveway, and from the gardens of his Beverly Hills hacienda he looks down on the lights of Sunset Boulevard and the Pacific beyond. He’s a man at the top of the world, and now he has a house to match.

“This is a house for a movie star,” his wife, Paula, says of the baronial five stories, built into a steep hill and arranged around a wrought iron-balustraded stairwell. “It’s magic here.” At the heart of the house is the Coburns’ paneled library; the Oscar sits on a reproduction lotus table in front of brocade draperies that frame the terraced gardens. “It’s a rush,” James Coburn says of the feeling he had when his name was announced. “You don’t believe it, and then you’re on the stage.” One of the best things about winning, he says, was taking Paula to the Academy Awards ceremony. She had always wanted to go.

Coburn constructed Affliction’s Pop Whitehouse from bits and pieces of his own experience, as well as from the Paul Schrader script and the novel by Russell Banks. He also drew on his memories of working with Sam Peckinpah on Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. He cut his white hair and wore padding for the part. Schrader asked him to speak through his nose, a shift that changed Coburn’s sexy growl to a threatening adenoidal whine. “When you’re acting,” Coburn explains, leaning back in one of the oversize leather chairs in the library, “everything you’ve done becomes worthwhile.”

“This is a man’s smoking room, the kind of room where you would retreat for an intimate chat with friends, or end up having an after-dinner liqueur,” says designer Craig Wright, who consulted with the Coburns on decorating. The leather chairs swivel to face a movie screen hidden in the paneling and are opposite a long chenille-covered sofa with throw pillows. “I like to sit up straight; Jim likes to slouch,” says Paula Coburn. “We wanted everyone to be comfortable.”

An antique Chinese cane bed used as a table holds candelabra made from Japanese altar sticks, an inlaid tortoiseshell Portuguese box and two bronze disciples of Buddha—part of the actor’s collection of Buddhist art. A calligraphic blessing from a Tibetan monk hangs on the wall. “I’ve always been interested in the esoteric side of religion,” says James Coburn, who has been acquiring Oriental art for thirty years. “All that stuff works for me. There are levels of understanding. It doesn’t all come in one flash of enlightenment.” Continue reading

Billionaire Oei Hong Leong’s Buddhist Treasures

CaptureForbes
AUG 3, 2016 @ 05:28 PM

Naazneen Karmali , FORBES STAFF

This story appears in the August 2016 issue of Forbes Asia.

Nei Xue Tang Museum of Buddhist and Chinese Historical Art

Four decades ago, when he moved to Singapore, Oei Hong Leong started buying Buddhist artifacts as decorative pieces for his home. Then still in his 20s, he had the wherewithal–his father, Eka Tjipta Widjaja, is one of Indonesia’s billionaires. Today Oei owns one of the biggest private collections of such objects, including rare and valuable antiquities dating to the Chinese Tang, Song and Ming dynasties. Having grown up in China “with no religion” and with a wife and four daughters who are Catholic, he sees his affinity for Buddhist art as “fate.”

The bulk of Oei’s 50,000-piece collection is displayed at Nei Xue Tang, a private museum housed in a four-story heritage building on Singapore’s Cantonment Road. Oei visits the museum twice a month to “pay my respects and pray for my family’s peace and health.” He offers flowers to the 17th-century seven-headed Dragon Buddha statue from Thailand near the museum’s entrance.

Visitors to Nei Xue Tang–the name means “hall of inner learning” in Chinese–are admitted only by invitation and have to leave their footwear outside. The antiques come from across Asia, including India–where Buddhism originated–and countries where it spread and is widely practiced today, such as Thailand, China, Cambodia, Japan and Mongolia.

Overseen by a Chinese-speaking curator, the displays occupy every available space inside. In a structure with preserved Peranakan architecture, there is no scope for expansion. Consequently, part of Oei’s collection is locked in a warehouse. The most precious pieces, over which he keeps a close watch, are kept at his sprawling mansion on Dalvey Road.

Among them is a set that Oei refers to as the “18 monks”–4-foot-tall wooden statues, originally from China, that he bought from a Singapore temple 20 years ago. Placed in the ballroom where Oei hosts formal receptions, they create a dramatic setting. He estimates that the set is worth three times the $7 million he paid to acquire it.

Not that Oei is looking to sell. He recalls that his collection got a boost during the exodus from Hong Kong just prior to the 1997 handover to the Chinese, when antiques flooded the market. Oei also picked up statues that were sold by Chinese temples in danger of being submerged by rising water levels caused by the Three Gorges Dam.

In 2007 Oei got a big break when he struck a deal to acquire the museum from retired lawyer and antique collector Woon Wee Teng for an undisclosed sum. Woon, a friend, created the space in 2005 for a collection already numbering 40,000 pieces.

[link]

NY Fashion Week: The weird and wonderful moments

 FILE - In this file photo of Sunday Sept. 13, 2015, Buddhist monks perform before the Prabal Gurung Spring 2016 collection is modeled during Fashion Week in New York. Gurung opened his runway show with 30 Buddhist monks who had traveled to New York to chant a prayer of gratitude for the world’s help during the devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Gurung’s native Nepal in April. Photo: Bryan R. Smith, AP / FRE171336 AP

FILE – In this file photo of Sunday Sept. 13, 2015, Buddhist monks perform before the Prabal Gurung Spring 2016 collection is modeled during Fashion Week in New York. Gurung opened his runway show with 30 Buddhist monks who had traveled to New York to chant a prayer of gratitude for the world’s help during the devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Gurung’s native Nepal in April. Photo: Bryan R. Smith, AP / FRE171336 AP

Jocelyn Noveck, Ap National Writer Updated 6:13 am, Saturday, September 19, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Fashion Week always has its share of memorable moments, the weird and the wonderful and everything in between. Here are some highlights of eight jam-packed days:

A CHANT OF GRATITUDE
To begin, a wonderful scene. Designer PRABAL GURUNG has done a lot to support his native country, Nepal, after the devastating earthquake hit in April. He began his show with the moving sight of 30 Buddhist monks chanting a prayer of gratitude for the fashion community’s help. Gurung then put on one of the more beautiful shows of the week, a tribute to Nepal in shades of yellow, saffron, peach and tea rose, with gorgeous embroidery. “All I wanted to do is show a little of where I’m from,” he said.

[link]

Collector Joel Greene Countersues Honolulu Art Museum In Provenance Feud

A 13th-century Buddhist trinity, smuggled from Cambodia, that Joel Alexander Greene donated to the Honolulu Academy of Arts. HONOLULU ACADEMY OF ARTS/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

A 13th-century Buddhist trinity, smuggled from Cambodia, that Joel Alexander Greene donated to the Honolulu Academy of Arts. HONOLULU ACADEMY OF ARTS/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

ARTnews
BY Hannah Ghorashi POSTED 09/17/15 5:22 PM

On July 31, we learned from Courthouse News that the Honolulu Art Museum had filed a lawsuit against collector and philanthropist Joel Alexander Greene for failing to prove that five Southeast Asian works he had donated to the museum in 2004 had not been smuggled. Greene, who had offered to deliver 37 more works, had been receiving an $80,000 annuity for life for his initial donation.

The museum alleges that Greene was not able to provide provenance, import, and export documentation for the works, which together were estimated at $1.3 million. Consequently, its collection committee voted to cancel Greene’s annuity deal.

Now Greene is firing back in court with a countersuit, saying that his name has been unfairly tarnished and that previously, in his dealings with the museum, there had been “no question as to the title of the pieces.” Yesterday, via email, he sent ARTnews a press release stating the following:

RE: Honolulu Academy of Arts dba Honolulu Art Museum vs. Joel Alexander Greene, CV 15000355 DKW-KSC, United States District Court for the District of Hawaii

BREACH OF CONTRACT COUNTERSUIT FILED AGAINST THE HONOLULU MUSEUM OF ART
Joel Alexander Greene, a Lifetime Member of the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Anna Rice Cook Society, and a major donor to the Museum, responded to the Museum’s declaratory action against him by filing a counterclaim against the Museum for breach of contract and damages.

Mr. Greene who is 80 years old and a published graduate art historian, donated and loaned to the Honolulu Museum of Art, more than a decade ago, works of art valued in excess of $2.5 million. In exchange for the donation, the Museum, in a long-accepted practice employed by all major non-profit charitable organizations, gave Mr. Greene a Charitable Gift Annuity Agreement, which obligated the Museum to pay him $80,000/year until his death, upon which the Agreement terminates. The Annuity Agreement, which was prepared by the Museum’s attorneys and approved by its Board of Directors, was not executed until after the Museum had conducted its due diligence on all of the pieces covered by the Agreement and had the pieces independently appraised.

Given the foregoing, Mr. Greene was shocked when with barely five days’ notice before its next payment to him was due, the Honolulu Museum of Art notified Mr. Greene on June 26, 2015 that his Charitable Gift Annuity, legally contracted for and in effect since 2004, would be suspended effective July 1, 2015. In a regrettable attempt to justify this breach of contract, the administration of the current Director of the Museum, Stephan Jost, has suggested by interviews quoted in the Honolulu Star Advertiser, Art News [sic] and other media that Mr. Greene did not have clear title to the pieces he gave the Museum more than a decade ago. Prior to Mr. Jost’s administration as Director, there had been no requests by the museum for further documentation from Mr. Greene and no question as to the title of the pieces. Now, after more than a decade of amicable relations between the Museum and Mr. Greene, Mr. Jost has resorted to tarnishing Mr. Greene’s name in the media to pressure him into surrendering to unreasonable demands that Mr. Greene forget his legal rights. The allegations against Mr. Greene are without merit and he is fully prepared to refute them in court. Mr. Greene is confident that justice will prevail and his payments reinstated, along with whatever other remedies the court may find appropriate.

Copyright 2015, ARTnews Ltd, 40 W 25th Street, 6th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10010. All rights reserved.

[link]

Buddhism and business

Enlighten your wallets here

Enlighten your wallets here

Zen and the art of moneymaking

Local officials make a packet from a religion of self-denial

The Economist
Jun 27th 2015 | SANYA |

THE white steel lady overlooking the South China Sea has three heads, three bodies and toenails bigger than human heads. Guanyin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, stands atop a temple on a man-made islet, each of her heads facing a different way. Her public-relations staff call the six-year task of putting her there, in the resort town of Sanya on tropical Hainan island, “the number one statue-project in China”. The structure’s height, at 108 metres, was intended to be auspicious: Buddhists consider the number sacred.

Good fortune was certainly on the minds of local officials when they approved the project, in which the local government has a share. It was intended to be a money-spinner. It costs 60 yuan ($9.66) just to get in the lift that whisks visitors up to pray at those giant feet. That is on top of 126 yuan to enter the Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone with its Auspicious Garden, Temple of 33 Guanyins and colourful Dharma Door of Non-Duality with its 94,000 portals. Guanyin is clearly not intended as a magnet for the faithful who have given up worldly possessions. Visitors are gouged without compassion, even having to pay for tassels “blessed” by souvenir salespeople. Gift stores are everywhere, selling knick-knacks such as prayer beads and Buddhist statuary. For visitors who want to sleep in the presence of Guanyin, a room at the site’s hotel can cost more than $280.

Continue reading

Antiquities looted from India end up at Honolulu museum

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher Associated Press

Marc Thomas, chief preparator at the Honolulu Museum of Art, holds one of seven stolen artifacts that were on display in the museum?s collection, Tuesday, March 31, 2015 in Honolulu. An international investigation into antiquities looted from India and smuggled into the United States has taken authorities to the Honolulu Museum of Art, which handed over the rare artifacts that it acquired without museum officials realizing they were ill-gotten items. Agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are taking the items back to New York and from there, eventually returning them to the government of India. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones) (Caleb Jones/AP)

Marc Thomas, chief preparator at the Honolulu Museum of Art, holds one of seven stolen artifacts that were on display in the museum?s collection, Tuesday, March 31, 2015 in Honolulu. An international investigation into antiquities looted from India and smuggled into the United States has taken authorities to the Honolulu Museum of Art, which handed over the rare artifacts that it acquired without museum officials realizing they were ill-gotten items. Agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are taking the items back to New York and from there, eventually returning them to the government of India. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones) (Caleb Jones/AP)

HONOLULU (AP) — An international investigation into antiquities looted from India and smuggled into the United States has taken authorities to the Honolulu Museum of Art.

The museum on Wednesday handed over seven rare artifacts that it acquired without museum officials realizing they were ill-gotten items. Agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will take the items back to New York and, from there, eventually return them to the government of India.

U.S. customs agents say the items were taken from religious temples and ancient Buddhist sites, and then allegedly smuggled to the United States by an art dealer. The dealer, Subhash Kapoor, was arrested in 2011 and is awaiting trial in India. Officials say Kapoor created false provenances for the illicit antiquities.

Someone on vacation visiting the museum last year recognized the name of Kapoor’s New York gallery as the source of a 2,000-year-old terra cotta rattle and contacted authorities, said Stephan Jost, the museum’s director. Museum officials then pored over their records and determined six other Indian items had ties to Kapoor.

Kapoor donated one of the items and sold five to the museum, Jost said. One was a gift from someone else.

Agents are hailing the Honolulu museum for being the first U.S. institution to publicly and easily cooperate with the investigation, dubbed “Operation Hidden Idol,” involving four arrests and the recovery of thousands of pieces worth a total of $150 million.

“Owning stolen stuff is not part of our mission,” Jost said. “I’m not sure we’ve done anything heroic. We just want to do the right thing.”

Continue reading

Brooklyn Art Dealer Accused of Selling Stolen Ancient Artifacts for $500K

Brooklyn art dealer Nayef Homsi is accused of selling a total of $495,000 in stolen art. Art Dealer Nayef Homsi

Brooklyn art dealer Nayef Homsi is accused of selling a total of $495,000 in stolen art. Art Dealer Nayef Homsi

DNAInfo
By James Fanelli | April 2, 2015 7:36am
@fanellijames

GREENPOINT — A Brooklyn art dealer acted like a villain from an Indiana Jones movie by selling nearly $500,000 worth of ancient religious artifacts that had been plundered from Nepali and Indian temples, Manhattan prosecutors say.

Nayef Homsi is expected to be arrested in the near future for selling three sculptures of Hindu and Buddhist deities — despite knowing the artifacts were stolen, according to civil court papers filed by Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

The illegal deals occurred between June 2012 and March 2013 — with the biggest sale being a 13th century gilt-bronze statue of the Buddhist deity Samvara for $370,000, the court papers say.

The DA’s office, which partnered with the Department of Homeland Security on the investigation, filed the papers in Manhattan Civil Supreme Court on March 25, asking a judge to freeze a bank account held in the name of Homsi’s company, Maitreya, where the proceeds of the illegal sales had been deposited.

“Within the next few days, the New York County District Attorney’s office intends to arrest Homsi,” Manhattan prosecutor Lynn Goodman wrote in an affidavit in support of the request.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

In June 2012, Homsi received the Samvara statue as a consignment from an individual whose identity was withheld in the DA’s court papers.

Days later, an expert hired to investigate the ownership of the piece informed Homsi that it was “almost assuredly” the same Samvara statue stolen in 1983 from the Itum Bahal Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal, court papers say. Continue reading