January 26th, 2012


In which I get a little blue camel

I wish there had been more time. The amazing Amy and I went to the Asian Art Museum yesterday, where we saw the special exhibit on Indian royalty and just a teasing bit of the rest of the collections.

Men have really blown it in the adornment department. Those maharajas knew what was what. They wore silks embroidered with flowers and massive ropes of pearls. Turbans! With jeweled ornaments shaped like feathers! They had inventive facial hair and gold thread encrusted slippers. I blame the British and their proper dark suits.

“Embellish everything” might be one of the guiding principles not only of the clothing, but also the furnishings and much of the painting. Got an elephant? Get it an embroidered blanket, a headpiece with jeweled ornaments, some pompom and silver earrings, a necklace fringed with silver bells, a silver tail ornament, a silver howdah with silk cushions and a place for your parasol-holder-to-the-prince to ride behind you, and a matched elephant hook and fly whisk inlaid with hunt scenes. By the way, the hunt scene should include a tiger the size of my smallest fingernail, detailed down to the eyeballs and stripes pursuing a spotted deer of even smaller proportions. One of the elephants depicted in a parade scene had a platform balanced on his tusks so the prince could have a dancing girl right there in front of his face.

Given the level of detail involved in the art, the exhibition designers get big points for providing magnifying glasses to use in the galleries. However, this does not make up for the fact that photos were not allowed. As I’ve said numerous times, I am fine without taking photos, but there had better be a pretty darn complete collection of postcards for me to buy in the shop. Didn’t happen here. Also, having really cool pop-art stickers of various Hindu deities in the galleries and not in the shop is mean. (I wanted, but did not buy, the Chinese character blocks.)

Outside of the special exhibit, we saw some nifty baskets and pottery. I liked this piece because it reminds me of an ammonite drafted by a geometer.

Indian goddesses have things pretty good. Not only do they get magic non-sagging round breasts, but they often have an extra set or two of arms. And if that isn’t enough girl power, one must simply consider Kali, who will kick your behind several ways to Tuesday:

(Kali was in the Indian statuary gallery, so I was allowed to take her picture without fear of karmic retribution.)

Must go back and see more!