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Ritual Wine Vessel (Guang). China, late Shang dynasty, 13th–11th century B.C.E. Bronze, 8 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 4in. (21.6 x 16.5 x 10.2cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection, 72.163a–b
Asian Galleries, 2nd Floor
The Brooklyn Museum houses one of America’s foremost collections of Asian art. The Asian galleries provide a full survey of those holdings, featuring more than 350 works of art from Japan, Korea, China, India, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas. The galleries are home to a diverse array of objects, from glowering Japanese guardian figures to delicate Indian miniature paintings, and from the heavily wrought surface of a Chinese cloisonné altarpiece to the smooth celadon glaze of a Korean ewer.
The Chinese gallery at the Museum features objects that range in date from the Neolithic period (circa 3000 B.C.E.) to the present. The works of art on display reveal the sophistication of Chinese craftsmanship and the variety of concerns—funerary, courtly, religious, and poetic—that combined to define traditional Chinese culture. They also demonstrate an enduring respect for antiquity, visible in forms derived from ancient bronzes, emblems such as the dragon and the taotie mask, and materials such as jade, all of which were employed by Chinese artists over several centuries.
The Brooklyn Museum was one of the first American institutions to collect and exhibit Korean art, and as a result it houses one of the country’s premier collections. The gallery presents the varied art forms through which Korea distinguished itself from its neighbors, including a fine selection of ceramics such as early stoneware funerary vessels, inlaid celadons, and later wares with freely painted underglaze decoration. Also on view are rare examples of bronzes, furniture, and painting.
Japanese works form the largest area within the Asian collections at the Brooklyn Museum. In addition to the traditional arts of Japan, the galleries include a selection of ceramics made by the great masters of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A section of the gallery is dedicated to the art of the Ainu people of northern Japan, material rarely seen in Western museums.
The Museum’s outstanding collection of South Asian art includes works from India and surrounding areas. The objects in this collection represent the rich religious traditions of southern Asia—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam—with an emphasis on figural sculpture and architectural elements. Among the strengths of the Museum’s holdings are terracotta figures dating from prehistory to the present and courtly objects made from precious materials.
Southeast Asia and the Himalayas are represented by smaller installations within the galleries, but these collections include several noteworthy objects, including large-scale sculptures from Cambodia and Thailand and early images from Kashmir and Nepal. Like South Asian traditions, the arts of these areas are primarily religious in subject or inspiration.