Author Archives: Stephen Lang

Chinese Painting [Object of the Day #116]

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  This painting, named “A Pair of Doves”  by Yi Yuanji, depicts two spotted doves (Streptopelia chinensis ) amid sprays of soft bamboo with a pile of rocks from which grows a small stunted tree. The time of year is most likely autumn or early winter. The signature of Yi Yuanji, 易元吉, is found on the face of […]

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Statue of Maitreya [Object of the Day #106]

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This gilt bronze statuette is of Maitreya, also known as “the compassionate one” and the Buddha of the future. It dates to the Eastern Wei Dynasty (534-550 CE) but is typical of the Northern Wei style which is characterized by its front facing orientation and flowing Chinese robes. The statue rests on a four-sided, four-legged […]

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Statue of Fudo [Object of the Day #44]

Statue of Fudo

This statue of Fudo, one of the Myo-o (Knowledge Kings), sits in the midst of fire symbolizing invulnerability. Also known as the immovable one, he is a part of a fierce class of protective deities who form an important category in Shingon art. Often depicted holding a lasso and vajra hilted sword, the statue was […]

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The new “Lords of Time”?

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With the new MAYA 2012 exhibit up and running the concept of time and keeping track of time has been on my mind lately. A few years ago, on my way to a restaurant in San Francisco, my friend and I stumbled across a building with a sign that said “X Long Now”.  Intrigued, we […]

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Ainu Robe from Japan [Object of the Day #31]

Ainu Robe

This Ainu robe was collected by  Hiram M. Hiller (1867-1921) a physician and amateur ethnologist during a trip to Hokkaido, the northern most island of Japan. The trip itself lasted only a month but covered an area stretching from the southern coastal villages of Hokkaido, near Shiraoi (where this piece comes from), to a circuit around […]

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Gisan Painting from Korea [Object of the Day #24]

Gisan Painting

    This watercolor was done by the artist Chun-gŭn Kim (artist name: Gisan) in 1886 in Choryang, Korea.  It illustrates one of the many games played in Korea during the 1800s. Two country girls, about eighteen years of age, in traditional Korean attire can be seen practicing choo-cheon or swinging. Gisan beautifully renders their billowing skirts and […]

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Zhuang Embroidered Jacket [Object of the Day #20]

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One of the newest acquisitions in the Asian Section is a collection of ethnographic textiles from the Philadelphia Civic Center Museum formerly known as the Commercial Museum. Originally exhibited at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, the approximately 400 pieces entered the museum and expanded the range of the textile collection to include South China, Indochina, […]

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Seated Luohan from China [Object of the Day #17]

Seated Luohan

The Penn Museum’s luohan is one of the most famous and important pieces in the museum’s collection. The fact that it is slightly larger than life size makes it a marvel of technology. Firing something so big  is extremely hard to do without destroying the piece in the process.  The modeled  facial features also imply […]

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Rhinoceros Libation Cups

The Chinese antiques market continues to grow as evidenced by the recent Antiques Roadshow episode that featured a set of rhinoceros libation cups valued at over a million dollars.   This morning as I flipped through the channels I came across the Today show and saw a plug for a segment with the owner of […]

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Xuanzang and the Silk Road Pt. 4

Back in June of 2010 I wrote about travelling to the Nara National Museum for an exhibition about China’s influence on Japan during the Tang Dynasty. see:  http://penn.museum/blog/museum/crating-and-packing/ During my trip I visited a temple called Yakushi-ji Temple.    Near the entrance there was one object that  caught my eye, a replica of the pedestal […]

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