The region bordering the Yellow River, which runs more than 3,400 miles from the Himalayan Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, has long been considered the cradle of Chinese civilization. These vast, fertile plains encouraged the rise of agriculture and the development of neolithic cultures (New Stone Age, roughly 6000-2000 BCE). Archeological discoveries made over the past few decades have revealed that early societies also flourished to the south, along the Yangzi River, as well as sites in the far northeast. These finds indicate that Chinese civilization arose through the gradual blending of several regional cultures.
Most Popular Resources
A woman disguised as a man holding a parrot, 618–906. China; Shaanxi province. Glazed low-fired ceramic. The Avery Brundage Collection, B65P52.
The Arabic saying, “Purity of writing is purity of the soul” vividly describes the status of the master calligrapher in Islamic society. It was believed that only a person of spiritual devotion and clear thought could achieve the skill required for this supreme art.
Certain motifs appear with great regularity as surface decorations of vessels of the early Bronze Age in China (approx. 2000-1750 BCE to 500 BCE). Many of these designs consist of composite or wholly imaginary animals.
Only in the past sixty years has “Southeast Asia” been used to refer to the region comprising modern-day Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines. Learn more.
Leta Bushyhead, Asian Art Museum Storyteller, tells a Chinese folktale inspired by objects in the museum's collection.
Turkish calligraphers were skillful at transforming words and phrases into the shapes of animals. This was done by elongating, wrapping, and rotating letters to create the contour (outline) as well as details of the animal. Favorite animal shapes include the lion, peacock, and stork. Students will write a descriptive sentence about an animal that they believe has virtuous qualities. They will create a zoomorphic pen and ink drawing composed of this sentence.
Students create a murakkaalar (calligraphy album) of their name and adjectives that describe their personality written in Arabic. They will make a calligraphy reed and learn to write with it. A kit’alar is a calligraphic work written on a rectangular piece of paper pasted onto a cardboard backing. Equal margins are left around the calligraphy in which the artist decorates with marbled paper (ebru) or illumination. A murrakkalar is a series of kit’alar attached together in an album that resembles an accordion.
Overview of the Hokusai and Hiroshige: Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts exhibition that took place at the Asian Art Museum from September 26–December 6, 1998 (filmed at former museum location in Golden Gate Park).
Asian Art Museum Storyteller, Miriam Mills, tells an excerpt from the Ramayana in the Southeast Asian galleries at the Asian Art Museum with the use of artworks from the museum's collection.