Sometimes I don't like to think about how so many of these items end up in museums, especially museums in the United States of America. I am sure they are acquired by legitimate purchase, or so I hope. But often I wonder why they are for sale in the first place, especially religious items.
Of course some make perfect sense. For example, the Temple of Dendur is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York because it was rescued from being buried under the water when the High Dam near Aswan, Egypt was constructed.
But how may I ask does an Indian temple get to be in a Philadelphia museum? The image below is from the online website of the museum since it was extremely dark in the gallery and below that the description from the catalogue regarding the temple which comes from Madurai, in the province of Tamil Nadu in Southern India.
At the heart of the Museum’s rich collections of Indian art stands a magnificent temple hall, the only example of South Indian stone architecture to be found in an American museum. It is made up of elements acquired by a Philadelphia family traveling in India in the early years of the twentieth century.This evocative space is a reconstruction from the ruins of three shrines that were built in the ancient city of Madurai, in southern India. All three shrines date from about 1525–50.
Yes indeed. Acquired by a very wealthy Philadelphia family while travelling in India.
In the same gallery as the temple was this perfect 11th century bronze of Lord Rama, also from Tamil Nadu. Bronzes from this era are considered peak creations of Indian art according to the Museum catalogue.
The above were posted especially for my blog friend Vijay, a radiologist who lives in Salem in the province of Tamil Nadu.
But the Asian Galleries contain items acquired from other countries besides India. Sunkaraku, or Evanescent Joys, is the name of this beautiful Japanese ceremonial teahouse. It is very popular with visitors to the Museum and when we entered and asked what special highlights were in the Museum, since obviously we could not see them all, we were told not to miss this.
The teahouse was acquired by the Museum directly from the architect Ogi Rodo who constructed it using elements from an eighteenth-century teahouse. Rodo designed country retreats and teahouses for wealthy leaders of the political and financial world of early twentieth-century Japan. Below we have the side garden of the teahouse.
Sunkaraku sits in a large gallery lit by daylight along with a Japanese temple, which you can see in the right foreground of the photo below.
The interior of the temple which is from the Muromachi period or late 14th century to late 16th century. Rather dark I'm afraid.
This image is taken from the Museum website to give you a better idea of the interior.
Finally for this post we have an oasis of serenity, the Chinese Scholar's study with this late eighteenth century example from Beijing. The walls are actually hinged panels with silk covered lattice work at the top and painted landscapes at the bottom. The long narrow table is designed for painting or for looking at scrolls, some of which you can see in the wood holder on the floor nearby.
The space was very dark so the photo is not brilliant but I liked the space and the items with which they had furnished it.
I think you can tell that I really liked this Museum and would have been happy to have spent much more time there. I hope you are not losing interest for there is one more post to come. Just five small galleries house the next fascinating collection, Arms and Armour. So Part IV soon, I hope.