Sunday, March 04, 2007

Another day at the Museum

The day, once again, began at the library --
where someone has turned to the next page of "Oriental Field Sports"
by Captain Williamson

Though, I'm not sure that the artist, Samuel Howitt, was quite as familiar with elephants and tigers as he was with horses and pigs.

My next destination was the Vollard exhibit -- but I never got there

---( the waiting line was way too forbidding )---

So instead I visited the Japanese rooms -- to meditate on the distinction between
the Heian era (very important to fans of Lady Murasaki)
--and the Kamakura era that followed it ( very important to those who like Samurai movies)

The above is an iconic Kamakura piece by Unkei and Kwaikei (still found in Japan)

while this piece -- and the others that follow are now in Chicago.

The difference seems pretty drastic here, doesn't it ?
The Heian guardian looks strong -- but he's hardly forbidding,
while I can't imagine any thing , living or dead, that wouldn't run in terror from
the Kamakura piece if it began to move

But.. what about this piece ?
-- which is also Kamakura but oh-so-quiet

maybe .. it's too quiet ....

compared, say to this one ?

Well... that's my explanation anyway.

The Heian piece just feels a little more natural -- like a tree or natural feature

while the Kamakura seems more devoted to a specific purpose like
"I have come to save you from the terrible world"

Here's another Heian piece...

these things are sooooo relaxing..

like stumbling across a waterfall in the forest

and now for further comparison --- here's a Nara period piece in the same room
(Nara being the capital in the few centuries before the building of Kyoto)

This was the time when Chinese civilization was adopted
..and doesn't this fellow seem to be saying:

"I have come with the Truth"

Well.. moving onto something completely different -- I shot this Turkish dagger (1800-1900)

..because I knew Gawain would like to see its ornate detail
(and I really like those clusters of jewels)

Which is the same reason I shot this Indian mirror's just too gorgeous (especially with that tiny rupee that perched on top)
(and I'd love to daydream about the faces that once were looking into its other side)

Finally -- yet again in tribute to Sir Gawain --

I found these
Seven sages of the Bamboo Grove
by Yashima Gakutei, c. 1825

Apparently in imitation of the 4 sages of Mount Shang,
these seven wise individuals fled from the evil Cao Cao's Kingdom of Wei
(i.e. in the time of the "Romance of the Three Kingdoms")

to look at scenery, make word games , write poetry, play music, and generally do all the things thatGawain thinks his friends should be doing.

(regretfully, one of them, Xi Kang, was executed for "immoral behavior" (i.e. excessive blogging) in 262

The poem in the above depiction was translated as follows:

With the arrival of spring
wise men stop in their tracks
a bush warbler disporting
in the bamboo grove

No matter how wise
in the spirngtime capital
fresh young bamboo
in Yuanji's eyes


Blogger Gawain said...

love the jewels. as a rajput friend once said to me -- out of respect for his enemy, a prince stabs him with a beautiful sword (or dagger). btw, they still do stuff like that screen in India -- jade encrusted with stones and glass. its a particularly Indian art -- and isnt it a beauty? the Qing emperors were avid collectors.

i really enjoy the vicarious pleasures of visiting the museum with you!

March 04, 2007  
Anonymous marly said...

Forgot to say that I enjoyed the “Hog at Bay”—and these heffalumps I like, too. Part of their charm is the going right ahead with insufficient information (like children and life.)

While you are perfectly right about the Kamakura sculpture (is that a demon?), I think it advisable to warn you-who-live-among-sculpture that one should always turn tail and run a prudent distance when a statue comes to life. Wait to see if it says something fearsome and angelic, like "Fear not."

Waterfall in a forest: I like.

What utter sweetness in that mirror.

Yes, I should like to be one of the bamboo grove sages—the one without a beard, perhaps. Oh, to hear any sort of warbler disporting in any sort of grove! The sparrows are cheeping on the snow banks.

And so Xi Kang, guilty of excessive blogging, I bid you adieu.

March 05, 2007  
Blogger Otto van Karajanstein said...

Wonderful post - and I envy your photos. I need to head to the museum nearby for lunch every day for a few weeks pick, the things I like, and photograph them well, as you have so ably done.

March 06, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

Yes, OVK, please do !

Take your digital camera (with the very important image stabilization chip) to the museum and then put mega-jpg pictures up on your blog -- accompanied by whatever commentary comes to mind.

I wish the internet were full of museum pictures/commentary -- so that, eventually, museums would come to serve a community larger than just its wealthy collector/donors -- and so that Gawain could find more friends who like jewel encrusted daggers.

March 06, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

Well the jewel encrusted dagger is OK but I prefer the stuff without jewels. Indeed I really like this post it will be added to my "the best 100".

I will be publish them one day, but it might be I while yet!

March 06, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

PS I havn't been drinking at lunch but my typing and spelling would sugest otherwise sorry Chris.

March 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the louvre just owned up to ever showing less than 10% of their holdings. you know what that means? that means that the museums which are supposed to SERVE US, TEACH US and whatever, are actually little more than huge black holes into which art disappears never to be seen again. they are not preservers of art, they are its destroyers!!!!!!!! i heartily applaud your desire to create some decent competition for these fellas, to chase them out of the woods and into the open!


March 06, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

Gawain how right you are, I have a picture of the "sculpture reserves" in the Louvre as it happens and will post it up in support of your comments.

March 07, 2007  

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