Orientations is a bimonthly print magazine published in Hong Kong and distributed worldwide since 1969. It is an authoritative source of information on the many and varied aspects of the arts of East and Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, from the latest scholarly research to market analysis and current news.
This issue highlights bronzes excavated at Sanxingdui, near modern-day Chengdu in Sichuan, and Anyang. Exploration of Sanxingdui began in earnest in 1986 and consensus since has been that the bronze manufacturing technology was imported; however, its application was strikingly unique, producing a style of human statues and eye-shaped objects and motifs not seen in other areas. Another 15,000 objects recently found have brought the site to the forefront of Chinese archaeology, leading to the opening this July of a new building at the Sanxingdui Museum. ‘Gazing at Sanxingdui: New Archaeological Discoveries in Sichuan’ opens this fall at the Hong Kong Palace Museum.
Anyang was the last capital of the Shang kings and was occupied from around 1250 to 1050 BCE, during which the bronze industry became even more sophisticated. ‘Anyang: China’s Ancient City of Kings’ at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Asian Art (NMAA) presents over 200 objects associated with Anyang and other cultures contemporary with the Shang, all exclusively from its collections.
Also at the NMAA is the Peacock Room, initially designed and built in the 19th century for the London mansion of shipping magnate Frederick Leyland (1831–92) to house Kangxi era (1662–1722) blue-and-white porcelain, and featuring James McNeill Whistler’s (1834–1903) painting The Princess from the Land of Porcelain (1863). In a multiphase restoration programme since 2016, conservators have carried out and recently completed in-depth work and repair of the room.
‘Death Is Not the End’ at the Rubin Museum of Art is a cross-cultural exhibition that looks at death and the afterlife in the art of Tibetan Buddhism
and Christianity. The manifestation of the afterlife depended on how responsibly one lived. One common practice in Indian and Tibetan religious art was to include the names of donors to document their spiritual achievement and merit gained from the sponsorship. But with the exception of a few, artists’ names were rarely recorded.
A set of late imperial China photographs of battle paintings depicting three major rebellions that took place in the mid-19th century shows that photography was used to preserve the official narrative of the Qing court (1644–1911). Various maps of Guangdong and Guangzhou tell this region's long history as a trading and diplomatic port since the Tang dynasty (618–907). Lastly, the recent 350th anniversary of the death of Yinyuan Longqi (1592–1673), a monk from China’s Fujian province who founded the Ōbaku school of Zen, draws fresh attention to the tradition he established.