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Art Talk Live: Reframing the Tianlongshan Cave Temple Fragments

This circular sandstone relief, placed on a wooden surface, depicts a flying figure with trailing robes and scarves holding a bowl in its right hand. It is flying toward the left and looking back over its right shoulder.
Flying Apsaras Holding a Bowl, from Tianlongshan Cave 3, near Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China, 534–550. Sandstone. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop, 1943.53.16.

Gallery Talk

In 1943, the museum was gifted 25 stone fragments from the Tianlongshan cave temples in China’s northern Shanxi province. Beginning in the late 1920s, the reliefs and sculptures were removed from the site and published by art dealer Sadajirō Yamanaka, sparking interest among collectors worldwide. This talk will highlight a collaboration with Harvard students that investigates the creation of the works, their meaning in Buddhist medieval China, their sale and journey to their current home, and the ravaged site they left behind.

Led by:
Sarah Laursen, Alan J. Dworsky Associate Curator of Chinese Art, Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art

This talk is part of a series inspired by ReFrame, a museum-wide initiative to reimagine the function, role, and future of the university art museum. These talks examine difficult histories, foreground untold stories, and experiment with new approaches to the collections of the Harvard Art Museums, reflecting the concerns of our world today.

This talk will take place online via Zoom. Free admission, but registration is required. To register, please complete this online form.

For instructions on how to join a meeting in Zoom, please click here. If you have any questions, please contact am_register@harvard.edu.

Art Talks Live are presented via Zoom every other Tuesday at 12:30pm (ET) and offer an up-close look at works from our collections with our team of curators, conservators, fellows, and graduate students.

The Harvard Art Museums are committed to accessibility for all visitors. For anyone requiring accessibility accommodations for our programs, please contact us at am_register@harvard.edu at least 48 hours in advance.