Category Archives: South Asia

“A monumental [exhibit] in about every sense of the word.”

April 15, 2014

Krishna Govardhana, from seventh-century southern Cambodia National Museum of Cambodia, Phnom Penh

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia” is a monumental show in about every sense of the word. At least one third of its 150-plus works are large sculptures and reliefs. Almost 100 pieces traveled from institutions across Southeast Asia. And the show’s very concept reflects new findings and directions in scholarship. The result is a show with as much to attract specialists—from inscriptions on first-time loans from Myanmar or the earliest-known statue of Vishnu from southern Cambodia—as there is to delight art lovers generally.

The works range from a toothy, monstrous figure looking down from a lintel (mid-seventh-century central Cambodia) to a majestic bodhisattva made slightly later in southern Vietnam. And nothing beats the beauty and animation of an early seventh-century life-size statue from southern Cambodia depicting the Hindu god Krishna looking most pleased with himself as, the story goes, he holds a mountain up and out of reach of a rival god’s wrath. Nearby, a Vishnu from central Thailand (late sixth to seventh century) offers a serious, warriorlike counterpoint. Broad-shouldered and muscular, he appears as strong and dependable as the rock from which he is hewn.

Lost Kingdoms:  Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture Of Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Through July 27

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Los Angeles: The 8th-Annual Distinguished Lecture on South and Southeast Asian Art

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Sunday, April 13, 2014

Robert Linrothe, specialist in Buddhist art of the Himalayas, examines the artistic grandeur of the Sumstek shrine in present-day northern India in his talk titled “The Three-Story ‘Heap of Jewels’: A Buddhist Shrine at Alchi in the Western Himalayas.” A site famous for its architecture, sculpture, and painting it is one of the surviving wonders of the Himalayan world.

The Tibetan name of this shrine (gsum brtsegs rin chen brtsegs pa) refers to a metaphorical “heap of jewels” in the sense of portraying the Tibetan Buddhist understanding of valuable truths. But in another sense, the name is also literally true:  some of the pigments of the wall paintings were ground precious stones and metals such as azurite and gold. All four interior walls, and three over-life-size sculptures are covered with miniature paintings, as if the artists were trained manuscript illuminators tasked with making murals.

Despite the importance of this site as a benchmark in the history of Himalayan art, its date is still controversial. Professor Linrothe discusses the attribution of the bulk of the painting to Kashmiri-trained artists, examines what is at stake in the dating controversy, and assesses the evidence on both sides of the question.

Robert Linrothe is an associate professor of art history at Northwestern University. From 2002 to 2004 he served as the inaugural curator of Himalayan Art at the Rubin Museum in New York. In 2008 he was a scholar in residence at the Getty Research Institute.

LACMA, Brown Auditorium
Free and open to the public

Sponsored by the Southern Asian Art Council


Treasures from Lost Kingdoms of early Southeast Asia at Met Museum

eturbo news
Mar 26, 2014

Treasures from Lost Kingdoms of early Southeast Asia at Met Museum

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NEW YORK, NY – A ground-breaking international loan exhibition devoted to the Hindu-Buddhist art of first- millennium Southeast Asia will go on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art beginning April 14. Some 160 sculptures will be featured, many of them large-scale stone sculptures, terracottas, and bronzes. They include a significant number of designated national treasures lent by the governments of Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar, as well as stellar loans from France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The exhibition Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century will explore the sculptural traditions of the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms from the early 5th to the close of the 8th century in mainland and insular Southeast Asia. This landmark exhibition will be the first to present the religious art produced by a series of newly emerged kingdoms in the region, whose archaeological footprints lay the foundations for the political map of Southeast Asia today.

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum, stated: “Exhibitions that provide this level of exposure to previously unfamiliar material of such significance come along very rarely. The majority of the important and breathtakingly beautiful works in Lost Kingdoms have never before traveled outside their source countries. We are indebted to the generosity of all of the international lenders, including several countries in Southeast Asia and Europe. We are especially honored that the government of Myanmar has signed its first-ever international loan agreement in order to lend their national treasures to this exhibition.”

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