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Curatorial Divisions

Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art

The Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art is responsible for over 60,000 works spanning more than 7,000 years, from Neolithic times to the present. Included are objects from East Asia, South and Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Western Asia, and North Africa, as well as ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and the Near East. Many of the objects derive from Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu traditions. All are held by the Arthur M. Sackler Museum.

The East Asian holdings range from folding screens and scroll paintings to prints, ceramics, sculpture, metalwork, lacquers, and textiles. Ancient Chinese bronze vessels used in ancestor worship rituals, exquisitely crafted jade ceremonial objects, and ceramic tomb sculptures represent traditions of funerary art in China. Sculptures and wall paintings from a religious context give visual manifestation to the Buddha and other important figures from Buddhist texts. Elegant Chinese, Korean, and Japanese paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, and other decorative arts reflect the daily life of the East Asian elite.

Devotional and secular works from Islamic cultures express the dynamic history of the diverse peoples in Western, Central, South Asia, and around the Mediterranean. The Islamic holdings are especially strong in works on paper with calligraphies and illustrated literary manuscripts. Patterned tiles, ceramics, metal wares, wood, and jades demonstrate the strong command of artistry and technique among Islamic artists and craftsmen with changing tastes over the centuries. Sculpture, painting, and luxury objects from South Asia show the interrelated artistic achievements of Jain, Hindu, and Islamic cultures.

Straddling Europe, Africa, and Asia, ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern art comprises works of diverse media and scale, from private and palatial to religious and funerary contexts. Objects include seals and gems, ivories, glass, and wood, freestanding and architectural sculptures in stone and terracotta, mosaics, and early Byzantine textiles. There are significant holdings of bronzes and Greek painted pottery, as well as an extensive collection of coins that spans the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods.