Orientations Sep/Oct 2023

Orientations Magazine Limited

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- Size: 28.6 (L) x 21.1 (W) cm

- Binding: softcover, 124 pages

- Language: English

- Publisher: Orientations Magazine Limited, 2023




This issue highlights bronzes excavated at Sanxingdui, near modern-day Chengdu in Sichuan, and Anyang. The Sanxingdui culture, dating to approximately 1800 to 900 BCE, was relatively contemporaneous to the Bronze Age in central China. Exploration of Sanxingdui began in earnest in 1986 and consensus since has been that the bronze manufacturing technology was imported; however, its application was strikingly unique, producing a style of human statues and eye-shaped objects and motifs not seen in other areas. Another 15,000 objects recently found have brought the site to the forefront of Chinese archaeology, leading to the opening of a new building at the Sanxingdui Museum this July. ‘Gazing at Sanxingdui: New Archaeological Discoveries in Sichuan’ opens this fall at the Hong Kong Palace Museum.

Anyang was the last capital of the Shang kings and was occupied from around 1250 to 1050 BCE, during which the bronze industry became even more sophisticated. ‘Anyang: China’s Ancient City of Kings’ at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Asian Art (NMAA) marks the centennial of the opening of the Freer Gallery of Art and presents over 200 objects associated with Anyang and other cultures contemporary with the Shang, all exclusively from its collections. A key highlight of Shang bronzes is their inscriptions, which indicate a highly stratified society seeking to perpetuate social status and lineage even in the afterlife.

Also at the NMAA is the Peacock Room, initially designed and built in the 19th century for the London mansion of shipping magnate Frederick Leyland (1831–92) to house Kangxi era (1662–1722) blue-and-white porcelain, and featuring James McNeill Whistler’s (1834–1903) painting The Princess from the Land of Porcelain (1863). After Leyland’s death, the room was dismantled and transported to Detroit before finding a final home at the Smithsonian. In a multiphase restoration programme since 2016, conservators have carried out and recently completed in-depth work and repair of the room.

‘Death Is Not the End’ at the Rubin Museum of Art is a cross-cultural exhibition that looks at death and the afterlife in the art of Tibetan Buddhism and Christianity. The manifestation of the afterlife depended on how responsibly one lived. One common practice in Indian and Tibetan religious art was to include the names of donors to document their spiritual achievement and merit gained from the sponsorship. But with the exception of a few, artists’ names were rarely recorded.

A set of late imperial China photographs of battle paintings depicting three major rebellions that took place in the mid-19th century shows that photography was used to preserve the official narrative of the Qing court (1644–1911). Various maps of Guangdong and Guangzhou tell this region's long history as a trading and diplomatic port since the Tang dynasty (618–907). Lastly, the recent 350th anniversary of the death of Yinyuan Longqi (1592–1673), a monk from China’s Fujian province who founded the Ōbaku school of Zen, draws fresh attention to the tradition he established.


Shengyu Wang, Tianlong Jiao. Gazing at Sanxingdui: Interactions and Ritual Arts
Kyle Steinke. ‘Anyang: China’s Ancient City of Kings’
Jenifer Bosworth, Ellen Chase, and Diana Greenwold. Conserving and Interpreting the Peacock Room at the National Museum of Asian Art
Elena Pakhoutova. Exploring Notions of the Afterlife in the Art of Tibetan Buddhism
Gerald Kozicz. Where Gupta Art Met the Architecture of Kashmir: The Lakshana Devi Temple of Brahmapura, Chamba
Hongxing Zhang. Investigating the Date, Maker, and Use of a Set of Photographic Albums of Late Qing Battle Paintings
Richard A. Pegg. Historical Mapping of Guangdong and Guangzhou
John Johnston. True Image: The Art of Ōbaku and Legacy of Yinyuan Longqi (Ingen Ryuki)