[Dragons amid Flowers, Eastern Central Asia, 11th-12th century, Silk tapestry, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.]
A true feast for the eyes will soon be served at The Met. This luxe, roughly 800-year-old Asian tapestry, Dragons amid Flowers, and the intricate jade belt slide, shown below, are just a tiny sampling from The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty, mentioned here the other day.
[Belt Slide, Jin (1115-1234)- Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) 12th-14th century, Jade (nephrite) The Metropolitan Museum of Art.]
Again, it's going to be a landmark exhibition with over 200 works on loan from around the world. While the majority of pieces have been borrowed from China, visitors will also see loans from Taiwan, Japan, Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. Having had a peek at some of the objects, I think the show will inspire a wide range of 21st century designers, whether your focus is textiles, ceramics, jewelry or interiors. So, if you have plans to be in NYC anytime between the end of this month, September 28, through January 2, 2011, definitely keep it in mind.
[Cup and saucer, Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) Glass; Excavated from the tomb of Wang Weixian (d. 1287) and his wife (d. 1306), Zhangxian, Gansu Province, 1972; Gansu Provincial Museum.]
Arts from the period during which China lived under Mongol rule, the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), might be less familiar to many of us than Ming and Qing Dynasty works but The Met hopes to change that. In an effort to help visitors see what Marco Polo encountered when he first ventured into the Great Khan's domain, curator James C. Y. Watt and his team are opening the show with an installation of costumes, rarefied jewelry, pottery, architectural elements and imperial portraits.
Using paintings and calligraphy representing the major artists of the era along with opulent decorative arts, the idea is to convey how the arts unexpectedly thrived during Mongol domination. The harsh upheaval ultimately led to cross-cultural pollination, like the evolving use of cobalt pigment illustrated in the exhibition with the destined-to-be-iconic blue-and-white porcelain. (It's also believed that adversity pushed artists to become particularly creative.) In the next few days I'll share more striking examples.
All images courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Links related to the history of Chinese blue-and-white:
Sultan's Lost Treasure
Ancient Chinese Explorers