Posts Tagged 'India'

The Arts of India, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas

On February 28, the DMA will celebrate the publication of the first catalogue dedicated to exploring the Museum’s collection of South and Southeast Asian art. The Arts of India, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas at the Dallas Museum of Art was written by Dr. Anne R. Bromberg, the DMA’s Cecil and Ida Green Curator of Ancient and Asian Art.

DMA_SAsian_Jacket

The catalogue examines over 140 sculptures, architectural pieces, and other works of art that represent the many cultures and religions of India, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas. Both visually and intellectually compelling, the catalogue celebrates the beauty and diversity of art from the region, as well as its social and historic significance.

The DMA’s South Asian collection has been growing since the first statue from the region was acquired in 1955. Since then, several exhibitions have led to the expansion of the collection, including the groundbreaking exhibition The Arts of Man in 1962 and the 1993 exhibition East Meets West: Selections from the David T. Owsley Collection. Following that exhibition, Mr. Owsley agreed to donate the exhibited works to the Museum, providing the core of the new Asian galleries that opened in 1996. He is also leaving his personal collection to the Museum in his estate.

We invite you to visit the Asian galleries to see (for free!) works from the catalogue that are currently on view, including the following and many others.

Shiva Nataraja, Chola dynasty, 11th century, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund

Shiva Nataraja, South India, Tamil Nadu, Chola dynasty, 11th century, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund

This bronze sculpture of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, shows him in his form as the Lord of the Dance. His dancing obliterates ignorance, signified by the dwarf beneath him. On special occasions, metal images such as this one were taken on procession both within the temple and in the surrounding area.

Vishnu as Varaha, 10th century, sandstone, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation and the Alconda-Owsley Foundation, E.E. Fogelson and Greer Garson Fogelson Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, Wendover Fund, and gift of Alta Brenner in memory of her daughter Andrea Bernice Brenner-McMullen

Vishnu as Varaha, Central India, Madhya Pradesh, 10th century, sandstone, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation and the Alconda-Owsley Foundation, E. E. Fogelson and Greer Garson Fogelson Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, Wendover Fund, and gift of Alta Brenner in memory of her daughter Andrea Bernice Brenner-McMullen

This sculpture portrays Vishnu, the Hindu preservation deity, as his incarnation of Varaha, with the head of a boar and the body of a human. He is shown triumphantly rising up from the ocean with the earth goddess, whom he has just rescued from the sea-demon that tried to drown her. Large figures of Varaha such as this one were often used to commemorate a king’s victory in battle, drawing an analogy between the righteousness of Varaha and the monarch.

Shrine, late 18th-19th century, silver over wood, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation

Shrine, India, Gujarat, late 18th-19th century, silver over wood, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation

This magnificent shrine is covered with a silver veneer and represents a miniature version of the universe; imagery evolves from the earthly realm of human activity to the heavenly realm with celestial dancers and birds near the dome. The eclectic imagery makes it difficult to identify as either Jain or Hindu without the holy figure that would have been seated in the middle. Shrines such as this one were used in private homes as well as in devotional chapels in larger temple complexes.

Buddha Sakyamuni, Khmer, c. 13th century, gilded bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, and Wendover Fund

Standing Buddha, Thailand, Lopburi style, 13th-14th century, gilt bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, and Wendover Fund

This gilt bronze statue of the Buddha stands with his hands out in a gesture meant to drive back floodwaters. The Buddha’s spiritual wealth is reflected in the lavish material of his clothing and intricate decoration of his crown and jewelry. The artistic style is named after the central Thai city of Lopburi, which was both the political and artistic center of the region.

Bust of a bodhisattva, Kushan, 2nd-3rd century, gray schist, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Margaret J. and George V. Charlton

Bust of a bodhisattva, India, Gandhara, Kushan period, 2nd-early 4th century, gray schist, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Margaret J. and George V. Charlton

This terracotta sculpture represents the last of the bodhisattvas that preceded the historical Buddha. This bodhisattva will be reborn as Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. Here, he is meditating on that reincarnation.

Please join us on Thursday, February 28, for a discussion led by Dr. Bromberg with fellow contributing authors to the book: Frederick M. Asher, Chair of the Department of Art History at the University of Minnesota; Robert Warren Clark, Coordinator of the Tibetan Language Program at Stanford University; and Nancy Tingley, an independent curator of Southeast Asian art. During this insightful program, they will discuss the history of the South and Southeast Asian collection at the DMA, as well as the process of creating the catalogue and what they found most interesting from the experience.

Andrea Lesovsky is the McDermott Graduate Curatorial Intern in Ancient and Asian Art at the DMA.

Friday Photos: Tea Time!

While I am definitely a tea drinker year round, there’s nothing I love more about fall and winter than curling up on the couch with a nice hot cup of tea… now if only our Texas weather would cooperate and cool down a bit!

Tea began its journey in China, travelled to Japan, India and Britain, and from there it was carried to countries around the world.  With its discovery placed around 2730 BC, the history of tea is steeped (get it?) in cultural relevance from the beautiful zen Japanese tea ceremony to the refined class of the English afternoon tea.  And with the recent election, we cannot forget the role that tea played in the rebellious Boston Tea Party!

Luckily, the Dallas Museum of Art has a fantastic collection of tea sets and related works of art to help me get in a cozy state of mind, regardless of the weather!

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Featured artworks:

  • Jean-Emile Puiforcat, Tea and coffee service, c. 1925, Dalals Museum of Art, the Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, gift of Patsy Lacy Griffith by exchange
  • Étienne-Henri Le Guay (gilder), Sèvres Porcelain Factory (manufacturer), Tea service (déjeuner),1789, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Michael L. Rosenberg
  • Reuben Haley (designer, Fulper-Stangl Pottery (manufacturer), “Square Modern” tea service, 1925, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Sidney and George Perutz in honor of Kevin W. Tucker
  • James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Afternoon Tea, 1895, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg
  • Harold Stabler (designer), Adie Brothers, Ltd. (manufacturer), Tea service, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation by exchange
  • Thomas Wilkinson and Sons (manufacturer), “Pelican Ware” tea service, 1885, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift
  • Michael Graves (designer), Fratelli Alessi (manufacturer), Tea and coffee service (from the “Piazza” series), 1980, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund
  • Margarete Heymann-Marks (designer), Hael Workshops for Artistic Ceramics (manufacturer), Tea service, c. 1930, Dallas Museum of Art, 20th-Century Design Fund
  • Nicholas Krushenick, Boston Tea Party, 1975, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Michael L. Rosenberg
  • John C. Moore (designer), Mulford, Wendell & Co (manufacturer), Tea and coffee service, c. 1851, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of T. Peter Townsend and Joanna Townsend
  • Antonio Pineda, Tea set, c. 1960, Dallas Museum of Art, 20th-Century Design Fund
  • Tea stand with cover and bowl, Tibet, 18th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Alta Brenner in memory of her daughter Andrea Bernice Brenner-McMullen

Pilar Wong
McDermott Intern for Community Teaching

Friday Photos: Bovine Bonanza

As a new Texas transplant, I have been trying to immerse myself in Dallas culture as much as possible.  I went to the State Fair and tried every fried food imaginable; I experienced the Ft. Worth Stockyards and the weekly rodeo (not a fan of calf roping); and I have already developed an obsession for sweet tea!

Luckily for me, the Dallas Museum of Art has an excellent collection of artwork by local Texan artists—a great opportunity for both newbies like me and old hats in the community to learn more about Dallas and the broader Texas art scene.

One prominent theme in Texan artworks is the ever-presence of cows! Cattle driving and trailing played a huge role in the history of north Texas and the animals remain an important cultural marker for the entire state.

Cows are not only prominent in Texan art, but bovines can also be found aplenty in our Asian collection reflecting the place of honor they hold in Hinduism.  Nandi, the bull often seen in Hindu art, serves as the mount of one of the principle Hindu deities, Shiva.  Not simply a means of transportation for Shiva, Nandi is also a primary god on his own and Shiva’s foremost disciple.

While Texans and Hindus revere cows in extremely different manners, each has found them important enough to include in their artwork, which, to me, illustrates an exciting cross-cultural connection!

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Artworks shown:

  • George Grosz, Cattle, 1952-1953, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of A. Harris and Company in memory of Leon A. Harris, Sr.
  • Clara McDonald Williamson, Get Along Little Dogies, 1945, Dallas Museum of Art, Ted Dealey Purchase Prize, Seventeenth Annual Dallas Allied Arts Exhibition, 1946
  • Otis Dozier, Wild Cow Milking Contest, 1941, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Dozier Foundation
  • Tom Lea, Wild Cattle of South Texas: Ancestors of the Longhorns, 1945-1946, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Life Magazine
  • Shiva Nataraja, Chola dynasty, 11th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund
  • Nandi bull, c. 13th century, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund and gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation
  • Humped bull (zebu, or Bos Indicus), 3rd millennium B.C., Dallas Museum of art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation

Pilar Wong
McDermott Intern for Community Teaching

How It's Used: Sacred Bronzes of India

Earlier this week, Loryn told us all about how sacred Indian bronze sculptures were made. Using the lost-wax process, each beautiful bronze sculpture was created as a one-of-a-kind work of art. Now that we know how they were made, I would like to explore how they were used.

Shiva Nataraja, sculpture, bronze, Chola dynasty, 11th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2000.377

Shiva Nataraja, Chola dynasty, 11th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2000.377

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As Loryn mentioned, many bronze sculptures were originally housed in Hindu temples. Each temple is dedicated to one particular god, and its primary function is to serve as the temporary home of that god. According to the Hindu belief system, an image of a god can be inhabited by the actual physical deity. This can only happen if the sculptor and priest have diligently followed the instructions of the sacred scriptures throughout the creation of the icon. This ability to invoke the actual presence of the god gives devotees the chance to interact with the deity directly. It is this interaction that lies at the heart of all Hindu worship, known as darshan, which means to see and be seen in return. This visual encounter, experienced by both devotee and deity, is the primary reason for temple visits.

The god usually resides within a stone icon installed in the inner sanctuary of the temple. But in order to make himself accessible to everyone, he is brought outside the temple walls for processions. Special sculptures are created solely for use in processions, usually made of bronze. The god leaves the inner sanctuary and inhabits the bronze sculpture after intensive ritual purification.

Photograph by John Guy, Shiva on his silver mount Nandi, 1993. Guy, John. Indian Temple Sculpture. V&A Publications: London, 2007.

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The DMA’s bronze Hindu sculpture Shiva Nataraja was one of these sacred sculptures made for processions. It’s easy to identify because of the holes at the bottom of the platform. During a procession, poles were inserted into these holes so that temple attendants could easily carry it through town. Shiva Nataraja would have been so richly adorned with clothes, jewelry, flowers, auspicious unguents and liquids, that oftentimes the eyes were the only visible feature. However the eyes were also the most important feature. As long as the eyes could be seen through the heap of endless offerings, darshan could still be experienced by all present. To this day, Hindu processions are still very lively public events that involve the entire community and attract pilgrims from far and wide. Engaging all five of the senses with incense, flowers, music, dancing, hymns, and mantras, everyone actively participates in the religious festivities.

I hope this helps spark your imagination during your next visual encounter with a Hindu deity!

Hannah Burney
McDermott Intern for Teaching Programs and Partnerships

How It's Made: Sacred Bronzes of India

When you enter the Southeastern Asian galleries located on the third floor of the Museum, an instant calm envelops you.  The gallery is full of stone and bronze figures choreographed in slow and quiet poses.  It’s almost like stumbling upon a yoga class, where each figure is in a tranquil pose and reaching for spiritual awareness. 

Image of the Southeastern Asian Galleries at the Dallas Museum of Art

I am most drawn to the bronze sculptures of the collection, and I’d like to share how they were made.  As with most metal sculptures throughout history, the sacred bronzes of India were made with the ancient technique of the lost-wax process.  The lost-wax process served as an integral part of the Hindu religion during the Chola dynasty, which reigned between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, due to the desire for portable images of deities.

These bronze figures were created for worship and were housed in stone temples.  Oftentimes, they were removed from the temples for use in ceremonies, acting as processional gods to the people of India.  Our very own Shiva Nataraja is a perfect example of a processional bronze.   For more information on how these bronze objects were used in ceremonies, read Hannah’s blog post on Thursday.

Shiva Nataraja, Dallas Museum of Art

Shiva Nataraja, India, c. 1100, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund

Lost-wax Process

The lost-wax process is a technique that seems to be as old as time.  It’s estimated that the earliest work created in this technique dates back to around 3500 B.C. in modern day Pakistan, and it is a common application for sculptors today.  One of the oldest works we have in the Museum dates back to 2000 B.C. and can be found in Silk Road installation on the third floor. 

The process begins with “prepared wax,” a mixture of hard beeswax and resin.  The sculptor gently heats the wax to create a malleable material for molding.  After an area of the object is finished, it is dipped into a cold basin of water to harden the wax.  This alternation of heating and cooling continues until the entire figure is assembled.   The sculptor will then go back and add details with wooden tools to finalize the figure. 

Once the object is ready for the mold, sprues (which are tubular forms of wax that allows liquid metal to flow from one end to another) are applied to the figure to ensure that the molten metal will reach all parts of the figure.  The sculptor then meticulously applies several layers of clay to build up a mold, leaving a small hole to allow for the burn-out process.  When the clay is bone-dry, the mold is fired to harden the clay and to burn-out the wax.  This method allows the wax to flow out, leaving a hollowed clay mold. 

Next, metalworkers melt a mixture of copper, lead, and tin (and in some cases, gold and silver too) in a crucible and then carefully pour the molten metal into the same hole the wax was released from.  Metal cools relatively fast, so if you have a large object, you have to make sure you have enough melted metal!  Once the metal is cooled, the clay shell is broken and the sculpture is revealed.  Every bronze sculpture is unique, as the clay molds cannot be reused.  To complete the work, the sculptor must cut off the sprues and sand the surface smooth, readying the object for the final application of polishing and wax.

Diagram of molds, courtesy of http://www.lost-waxprocess.com

I encourage you to stop by the Museum and observe these sacred bronzes of India.  You might find yourself appreciating the tranquil rhythm and balance of these forms, as well as how they were made!

Best regards,

Loryn Leonard
Coordinator of Museum Visits


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