Volume 50 – Number 2
COVER: Phoenix crown (detail)
China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911) or Republican period (1912–49), late 19th/early 20th century
Wire with paper, kingfisher feathers and
semi-precious stones, 25 x 22 x 19 cm
National Museums Scotland (A.1969.399) (Image © National Museums Scotland)
In this issue we spotlight the National Museum of Scotland, which opened a new gallery devoted to East Asian art in February. The museum is home to the largest collection of East Asian material in the UK outside London and is unique in presenting works from China, Japan and Korea in one gallery, facilitating an understanding of shared aspects as well as traits distinct to each culture. Rosina Buckland’s article reveals the background to the gallery, which highlights the continued vitality of artistic production in the three cultures, while Qin Cao reinterprets a kingfisher-feather headdress that features in the China display.
We follow with two other articles on Chinese art: a strange seal encountered on two early paintings leads Richard Barnhart on an interesting journey of discovery; meanwhile, Alison Hardie considers how the illustrations for a 17th century play by the poet-official Ruan Dacheng in fact reflect the life of the author himself.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is holding a number of Asian art exhibitions this spring, and we include articles related to two. John Carpenter examines poems and prose excerpts from The Tale of Genji transcribed by esteemed courtier-calligraphers in Momoyama period Japan, and Kurt Behrendt demonstrates the artistic creativity of the Pahari artists of the Punjab Hills in India. Also in New York, Karl Debreczeny explores the intersection of politics, religion and art in Tibetan Buddhism in connection with an exhibition at The Rubin Museum of Art.
Finally, for our ‘Gardens’ series, we turn to Iran, with an article by Lisa Golombek and Robert Mason on the pictorial tiles thought to be from the 17th century garden of the Pavilion of the Stables in Isfahan.