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Name Symbolism

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Image of 2003.2.3 - Fusanobu, Maruya

2003.2.3 - Fusanobu, Maruya

This print titled "Two Kabuki Actors," by Maruya Fusanobu, depicts two famous kabuki (traditional Japanese theater) actors dancing face-to-face with drums hanging round thier necks. In ukiyo-e prints, the identity of kabuki actors can be determined by the mon (clan crest) that forms a striking pattern on thier robes. The male figure on the right isamember of the Ichimura Uzaemon family, whose clan crest is a flower stalk, seen below the drum that he is beating. The kabuki actor to the left is a memeber of the Arashi Otohachi family, whose clan crest is represented by a kanji (the Chinese character for "small") within an octagonal frame.

Image of 2003.4.1 -

2003.4.1 -

Tribal mask of Shiva. This mask of Shiva from the Buta tribe in Southern India shows an intimidating face with bulging eyes, sharp pointed nose, and a demonic smile with pointed teeth and overgrown fangs. The face is decorated with traditional ornaments, including round earrings, a beaded chain below the chin, and a crown that projects outward from the brow with small dangling drops representing leaves. The outward projection of the crown signifies his divinity. On his forehead are sun, moon, and fire motifs, known as the three eyes of Shiva. This mask is of a Shivate diety, possibly Shiva, and was kept in a shrine until festival time when it was taken out for use. The workmanship of th

Image of 98.4.1 -

98.4.1 -

Woven decorative fringed border with mythological beings. Keeping in mind that some Paracas embroideries measured up to 85 feet long,this piece is a small fragment of the border of a much larger piece. It nevertheless contains a great deal of valuable information for understanding the Paracas textile tradition and the culture as a whole. The border strip shows a row of repeating anthropomorphic figures with outstretched limbs, suggesting that they are in flight. The color scheme is typical of Block Color embroideries (see Notes), with a predominance of rich green, red, yellow, and orange hues. The figures wear stylized masks revealing only a triangular chignon of hair that seems to proje

Image of 63.18 -

63.18 -

This mirror is an example of a zodiac pattern used on the backs of Chinese hand mirrors. Zodiac symbols continued to be a popular design well into the Tang dynasty. The zodiac pattern on this mirror is a relatively simple zodiac diagram, showing twelve zodiac symbols around the inside rim of the outer circle alternated with half-moon shapes. Six smaller knobs are placed around the central boss; these smaller knobs may represent animals of some significance as well. The outer rim of the mirror is inscribed with an untranslated passage that could be a poem, a personal inscription which identified the owner, or an inspirational epigram. BRONZE MIRRORS Before the invention of the modern

Image of 63.19 -

63.19 -

This Relief Mirror is an example of the TLV design. Around the central knob-like figure is a square, which represents the earthly realm. "T" shapes emerge from the sides of this square, representing the four celestial corners of the universe. Around the central square is a circle, which represents the heavenly realm, and inscribed on the inside of this circle, the "L" symbols represent the four terrestrial directions, and the "V" symbols represent the seasons. The zigzag pattern around the peripheral of the circle represents the mountain ranges the Chinese believed encircled the world. The zodiac figures that are discernable around the circle may have symbolic relationships with the card

Image of 63.21 -

63.21 -

This mirror is an example of a zodiac pattern used on the backs of Chinese hand mirrors. Zodiac symbols continued to be a popular design well into the Tang dynasty. The pattern on this mirror shows beautiful decorative shapes common to that era. The mirror's outer profile shows a floral shape instead of the circles seen in previous mirrors, and the floral motif is continued with floral designs throughout the object. Around the central boss are four images of mythical animals or zodiac figures, two of which could be identified as lions and two as horses or rams. Reference: Winter, Amy H., with Xiaoping Lin (eds.), "The Light of Infinite Wisdom: Asian Art from the Godwin-Ternbach Museum

Image of 63.22 -

63.22 -

BRONZE MIRRORS Before the invention of the modern mirror, many ancient civilizations utilized bronze mirrors which required frequent polishing of their smooth convex surfaces. Such mirrors were introduced to China in the 6th century BC, and were thought to ward off evil spirits by their reflection of light. They were a luxury item reserved for royalty, and later versions often included personalized inscriptions or seals. Although these mirrors are not Taoist items per se, many of them are significant in a Taoist context because they display cosmological diagrams which reveal the basic Taoist principles of the cardinal directions and their animal guardians, as well as other intellectual un

Image of 92.6.1 -

92.6.1 -

Hand gestures known as mudras are used in Buddhist iconography to signify the nature and function of deities. This mudra known as "vitarka" mudra, is the gesture of reasoning. It symbolizes discussion or dispensation of the darma, one of the phases of the Buddha's teachings, that convinces listeners and leads them to enlightenment. This bronze rendering of vitarka mudra is intended to lead people into conversation. It is sometimes given the name of "mudra of explanation" and also the gesture of argumentation. The sleek, elongated thumb and index finger ot the left hand touch to form a circle representing perfection, which is eternal. This hand gesture is symbolic of the "Wheel of the Teaching

Image of 98.4.22 -

98.4.22 -

Paracas embroidered border decorated with feline "Oculate" being. Unlike the textiles of many other cultures, Paracas textiles are embroidered rather than painted. Embroidery is a superstructural technique, meaning that stitches are made on top of a plain ground cloth to form the textile's principal decoration. Paracas artisans excelled at a number of different embroidery techniques, including the Linear Style and Broad Line Style, whose names reveal their essential characteristics. But perhaps their most virtuoso achievement can be found in the Block Color style of embroidery. Block Color embroidery consists of outlining the central figure or design element and then filling in the inter

Image of 98.4.4 -

98.4.4 -

At first glance Huari (Wari) textile compositions, such as the Tunic fragment with profile faces and frets, appear to be unintelligible. According to the Andean scholar Rebecca Stone-Miller, Wari textiles "seem to celebrate geometry itself; their designs read as grid-based, rectilinear, strikingly coloristic, dynamic, and, above all, illegible pattern." As illegible as the fragment may appear, it is nevertheless clear that Wari weavers-typically women, often in collaboration-learned to express themselves, and to express state initiatives, in a language of abstraction. The abstracted iconography favored by Wari weavers included staff-bearing figures, tunic wearers, frontal faces, profile faces

Image of P0122 - Piranesi, Giovanni Battista

P0122 - Piranesi, Giovanni Battista

The first frontispiece for the "Antichita d'albano e di castelgandolfo" (Paris, 1764) is of the romantic type. The title and author are inscribed on a unique fragment at a 45-degree angle to the front plane. This print titled "Clementi XIII P. M." is the second frontispiece, again shows an architectual fragment of vaguely Etruscan form; but like the plaque type, it has its dedication to Pope Clement XIII parallel to the spectator. The iconography of this frontispiece is a complex panegyric to the Pope. For as Pontifex Maximus (the meaning of "P.M." in the inscription), the Pope was lauded not only as High Priest of the Roman Catholic Church, but shared this titled with the emrepors.

Image of P195 - Flotner, Peter

P195 - Flotner, Peter

"The Poor Common Ass" was created in Nuremberg, Germany as an illustrated broadside, or large sheet of paper that was not folded and often functioned as a poster. In the decade following the publication of the print, Nuremberg became known for its production of illustrated broadsides. Of the publishers active in Nuremberg during the Renaissance, few were as well-known or prolific as Hans Guldenmund (German illuminator and printmaker, active 1490-1560). A woodcutter and illuminator of manuscripts, he was later recognized for his engravings of Reformation leaders. As a publisher, he is credited with the release of woodcuts designed by Hans Brosamer, Albrecht Durer and Edward Schoen. Indeed, his

Image of P58 - Reni, Guido

P58 - Reni, Guido

Among the most beautiful of Guido Reni's etchings "The Holy Family" demonstrates both his debt and independence from the sixteenth-century printer and etcher Parmigianino. Like Parmigianino, Reni used a very sketchy etching technique, but with reinforcement (perhaps in drypoint) in dark areas. This is the most noticeable in the body of the Virgin, where the shadows of the folds of drapery are deeply etched lines that both define the breasts and give them weight. he interest in Parmigianino's etching technique is matched by adaptation of his figure types, like St. Joseph with his swirling hair and beard. But the Virgin lacks all the eccentric phisiognomic aspects of Parmigianino's; her propor

Image of P62 - Cantarini, Simone

P62 - Cantarini, Simone

Simone Cantarini's "Rest on the Flight into Egypt" clearly reflects both his debt and his independence from Guido Reni. The print is one of several Flights into Egypt developed painstakingly by Cantarini in very finished drawings. He rarely re-used an idea, but often varied compositions by giving each a different theme. The theme of this version and of its model derived from their ultimate precedent Correggio's "Madonna della Scodella," which showed the Madonna and Child being given dates from a palm by St. Joseph.