Oriental Art of the 14th – 20th centuries

The National Art Museum of the Republic Belarus disposes significant collection of monuments of culture and folk art of the Orient. The history of this collection begins at the end of 1950s, when Ministry of culture of China presented to the museum a significant number of Chinese decorative-applied art works. In 1960 an essential assistance in renewing of the collection has been rendered by the State museum of Folk Art of the Orient in Moscow. Acquisitions from private collectors have subsequently renewed and increased the collection. Today, collection is presented by traditional types of art from the countries of the Front, Middle, Central, South and South-East Asia, Caucasus and Far East: painting and sculpture, miniature and art of the people’s picture, weaving and artistic metal, ceramics and porcelain, painted and partition enamel, carving on tree, bones, stone, painted and carved lacquers.

The exposure presents the most interesting collections of China, Japan and India.

The Chinese civilization, one of the oldest in the world, has created unique in beauty and originality art, adherent to conservation of traditions.

High artistic quality, variety of the forms and decorations is distinctive for Chinese ceramics and porcelain of the 15-20th cc. Vases, dishes, chalices, porcelain plastic arts of the "Golden Age" - period of Kangxi (1662-1722), Youngcheng (1723-1735), Qianlong (1736-1796) - combine an unsurpassed level of technical skill with gracefulness of painting. In the collection of the museum there are monochrome products, subjects decorated by underglaze painting by cobalt, enamel paint over glaze.

Chinese snuffboxes - containers for aromatic smelling powder are various in material and technique of fabrication. Perfume bottles with a stopper and small bone spoon are executed from porcelain, glass, stone (nephritis, agate, rose quartz), carved varnish and are dated by the 19- early 20th cc. The collection of the museum presents miscellaneous technologies of the artistic enamels. Partitioned enamel of different colors, united by golden sidebar, decorates the surface of the numerous containers, vases and plates. The figure of the lion "Fo", executed in the 18th c., combines in itself stability and monumentality of forms with an exquisite multicolored ornament. Painted enamel are not numerous, but more picturesque. Fine, nearly tiny work of the details is distinct for the oval box of the period of Qianlong with a scene of the Dragon and Phoenix, plaited in a complex vegetable ornament.

Production of the lacquered products, because of complex technology, was rather expensive. Lacquer that was to the taste of nobility, as no other material, was used for decoration of the architectural details, manufacturing of furniture and various utensils.

Beijing masters worked on a red laquer in technics of carving, which allowed to develop decoration, using small and deep engraving. The big box for New Year’s giving of the 19th century decorated by masterly done multi-layer laminated relief with genre scenes.

The skill of the Chinese woodcarvers, their ability to play natural properties of the material was particularly brightly shown in rare by expression wooden sculpture of Lyu Hay - God of the coins and a companion of the God of wealth, dated late 17 – 18th cc. Master has splendidly shown the condition of bliss of the deity, resting upon a bamboo mat near by with a three-fingered toad- allegory of the baiting of money.

The majority of the monuments of culture and art of Japan is dated by the 19-20th cc.

In the same way as China, this country on length of centuries has carefully saved traditional particularities of art, technics, symbolics and poetics, national ornaments and coloring.

The collection of Japanese ceramics and porcelain includes masterpieces of Satsuma, Arita, Kyoto, Bidzen and Kutani workshops. The beautiful sample of the Arita porcelain product – is a big vase, painted by cobalt, overglaze red paint with addition of gold. . Four large reserves with a motive of the flowering cherry, umbrella pine and phoenix are shown here. The products of the Satsuma workshops are covered with glaze of ivory color with small cracks- crackle, painted by polychrome paint and gold. The typical motives of paintings - battle, genre scenes, episodes of the literary works, figures of the saints, "brocaded" ornament.

The image of the blossoming and withering nature is present everywhere in Japanese art - in ceramics and porcelain, in fabrics for national clothes - kimono. The exposition presents festive kimono of modern Japanese masters, who carefully saved traditions of this art. By their style they relate to the late Middle Ages. The drawing of each kimono is connected with the determined time of the year, corresponds to the certain image of the customer, his/her age and mood. The wedding white kimono with floral decoration reminds a blossoming spring garden.

Obi -brocaded belts are as well extraordinary various by decoration. They are decorated with traditional motives- parade of vehicles, flowers, birds, pines and bamboo

Netsuke - is a tiny sculpture from ivory and tree, especially popular in the 18 – early 20th cc.. Original key- ring-counterweight to netsuke - an obligatory attribute of the traditional male suit. Fans, tobacco pouches, boxes "inro" were fastened on silk cord with their help to the belt of kimono. Netsuke - "Tea Drinking", "Dog with a Puppy", "Boy on a Buffalo", "Mouse on a Pumpkin", "Ape" – are distinct by careful performance, virtuosity of the processing of bones and wood and extraordinary expressiveness.

The Oriental Art of the museum is complemented by the collection of the decorative-applied art and miniatures of India of the 19-20th centuries.

Features of unique originality were brightly shown in weaving of India. Fabrics of the museum collection are connected with the period of rebirth of the Indian textile craft in 1950s, and with the time of its bloom in 1970-1980s. Hand made, they differs within the broad range. The thinnest silk sari, coverlets, shawls, kerchiefs and carpets decorated with embroidery, heeltap and especially harmonious in color. Of a special value is the unique ritual cover – “kalamkari”, created by masters of the well- known textile centers in the states of Andhra - Pradesh and Orissa. “Kalamkari” are decorated by complicated vegetable ornament, recreating construction of the Universe.

From ancient times India were known by products made from copper and bronze. Armors of the warriors were also artfully decorated. The shields and daggers were decorated by engravings and notch. Modern masters continue to make various utensils, ritual subjects, sculptures. Two methods are in use for making of products: forging and casting by way of a " lost waxy model".

Artistic processing of wood is also one of the oldest handicrafts of India. The Indian forests are rich in valuable sorts of wood - red, black, box tree, cypress and sandalwoods. From all regions of India, in which artistic processing of wood is produced, the most popular is Kashmir. The handicraftsmen of Kashmir became famous for manufacturing of furniture - transparent, similar to a lace screens, little tables, armchairs. The small boxes, completely covered by open-work carved patterns.

In many regions of India painting on pre-coated canvas - patachitra (pata - fabrics, chitra - drawing) is widely-spread. This is a national art. Patachitras are done by the masters of the Chitro caste known from the 11th century. These artists are simultaneously both singers, and storytellers. They sing songs on the plots of rolls.

The exposition presents patachitras, denoted to the folk legends about Krishna, by the master Chandriah Nakash Chitra from the village of Charrial Mangal of Andhra-Pradesh state. This master is a participant of various Indian and foreign exhibitions of folk art. His works are exhibited in the largest museums of India, obtained for the collection of the museum of Victoria and Albert in London.

The high skill of the performance is distinct for the products of modern Rajasthan masters, continuing and developing traditions of the famous Rajasthan School of miniature.

Art of Iran is presented by rare samples of the artistic handicrafts - vessel from ceramics, metal and glass of the 19th century, subjects from papier-mache and wood and lacquered painting of the 18-19th centuries, carpets from Beludzhistan and Tebriz of the 19-20th centuries.

Very interesting is collection of the modern ceramics of Central Asia. It is presented by works of the oldest masters and young generation of artists of the Samarkand ceramics school. Vases, dishes, chalices and expressive decorative sculpture demonstrate the creative attitude of masters of ceramics to the national traditions.

The Eastern art Collection in of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus has near one and a half thousand monuments and gives certain presentation about the art of the countries of this region.