Carimbos chineses/ Chinese seals.


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The first record of a seal in China is from 544 BC. Actual bronze seals survive from the 5th century BC, and the practice of sealing must be some centuries older. The emblematic characters cast on Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC) bronze vessels imply the use of something like a seal for impressing on the mold. The royal seal and other seals of high office were termed xi (璽); other seals of rank and appointment were yin (印). In the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), it is said that Empress Consort Wu (武则天) disliked the fact that xi (璽) was close in sound to death (si, 死) or rest (xi, 息), so she changed the name of seals to treasure (bao, 宝). In subsequent centuries, both names were used. The imperial seal was traditionally large and square, often made of jade.

The private seals (印鑑, 圖章 or 印章) used in China, commonly square and reading merely “seal of so and so”, served as a confirmation of signature or a sign to be verified. They are made of stone, ivory, wood, or jade. Used by artists and collectors to mark their calligraphies, paintings and books, there is hardly a limit to their fanciful designs and phraseology. A man might own scores of seals, using his many sobriquets, especially those suggesting unworldly and rustic tastes. A seal is impressed in red ink—made of cinnabar in water and honey or suspended in sesame oil, hempseed oil, etc.—held ready on a pad of cotton or moss. The characters can be carved either in relief (阳雕), or in intaglio (阴刻). The former type appears in red (zhuwen, 朱文 or 阳文); while the latter appears in white (baiwen, 白文 or 阴文) against the inked ground.

       Seals are often used on Chinese calligraphy works and Chinese paintings. Owners or collectors of paintings or books will often add their personal or studio seals to pieces they have collected. This practice is an act of appreciation towards the work. Some artworks have not only seals but also inscriptions or afterwords from the collectors. For example, the Qianlong emperor was famous for his literary ambitions, including calligraphy, and had produced a large amount of texts affixed with his seal. He had as many as 20 different seals for use with inscriptions on calligraphy works and paintings he collected. A seal of a famous collector or connoisseur would become an integral part of a work of art and could substantially raise its value. Thus in the course of several centuries, some Chinese calligraphy works and paintings become covered by dozens of different seals.


Rota da Seda no Brooklyn Museum de NYork


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Ritual Wine Vessel (Guang)

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

Long-Term Installation

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.