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Tag: Freer Sackler Gallery Library

Mughal art for the masses

Mughal art
Detail of Shah Jahan enthroned with Mahabat Khan and a Shaykh, from the late Shah Jahan Album S1986.406. Courtesy of Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

This post was written by Keala Richard, intern in the Freer|Sackler Library during the summer of 2016. Keala is currently working towards a Masters in Library and Information Science at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

When I was a teenager, I spent countless afternoons gossiping and scheming with my best friend under the watchful eye of Mughal royalty. Her family’s collection of miniatures, stripped of their gilt borders and in many cases missing in-painting, still struck me as the most beautiful pieces in her parents’ massive collection of Indian art. Whenever I would sneak down the hall for midnight slumber party refrigerator raids, I would always stop and admire the princes and princesses painted in profile. When I first learned that I was awarded the Smithsonian Minority Awards Program Internship, I marveled at the serendipity of being selected for the Freer|Sackler Library’s Mughal Wikipedia Project. I would get to learn more about the gilded nobility on my best friend’s wall.

William Woodville Rockhill’s Chinese Language Books

Rockhill
Illustration from Hui tu zeng xiang xi you ji, an 1891 illustrated version of the Journey to the West, from the Rockhill donation.

The article A Scholar Diplomat’s Legacy: William Woodville Rockhill and His Chinese Language Books at the Freer Gallery of Art Library, by Lily Kecskes, former Head Librarian of the Freer-Sackler Library, and published in the Journal of East Asian Libraries, number 146 (October 2008), describes an important donation in the history of the Freer-Sackler Library. The article details a 1927 gift of precious and rare Chinese language books to the Smithsonian Institution made by Mrs. Rockhill, widow of the scholar-diplomat William Woodville Rockhill. It notes that the donated books “ranged, in date of publication from 1659 to 1913 and covered a wide range of subjects, including religion, history, geography, literature, and culture of Central Asia, Tibet, and Mongolia.”

Ramayana of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

This post was written by Leila Prasertwaitaya, a library specialist working at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Hidden amongst the Freer | Sackler Library’s much larger collections on East Asian, South Asian and Islamic art is a small gem-like group of books on Thai art and architecture.  Many of these books are in Thai, but with their magical illustrations of Dvarapala (guardians), gold-painted, bell-shaped chedi, five-headed stone nagas, a 70 cm. tall bronze Buddha head and murals of astonishing density and complexity, the books can open up a world of astounding beauty to anyone with a little curiosity.

Meiji Designs and Japanese Craft Artists

This post was written by Reiko Yoshimura, head librarian of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Library.

As a result of the development of Japonisme in the 1860s, Japanese art and crafts became increasingly popular, especially in Europe. Following the Meiji Restoration (1868), the Japanese government began exhibiting a vast amount of art and craft objects in world expositions, namely, World’s Columbian Exposition (1893) and Paris expositions (1867, 1889, 1900), which led to actively promoting domestic craft production.