USC Pacific Asia Museum

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Pasadena, California 91101
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Daily Rituals: Himalayan Art in Practice

February 1 - November 11, 2007

View the Exhibition Brochure [PDF: 329KB]

Ritual Apron
Ritual Apron, Tibet, c.1700,
cloth, bone, and pigment,
Gift of the Nancy King Collection,

For centuries, the Himalayas have been viewed by many as a secret enclave of mystery. Known as the home of Shangri-la and reincarnated lamas, these mountains seem to contain traditions and wisdom that are not easily understood by outsiders. Daily Rituals: Himalayan Art in practice, opening atUSC Pacific Asia Museum on February 1, will dispel some of these misconceptions through a presentation of a select group of objects that have been a part of the daily life of Tibetans and other inhabitants of the Himalayan region.

Drawing primarily on artworks from the USC Pacific Asia Museum collection, this exhibition will provide visitors with a glimpse into the life of laypeople, monks, and gentleman scholars living in the Himalayas from the 12th to the 20th centuries. These objects were used regularly, if not everyday, by individuals in the region. The finely-worked surface of a gilt iron pen case illustrates the importance given by artisans and patrons to bringing beauty to everyday objects, even utilitarian equipment. A cotton apron painted with the wrathful face of a protective deity and adorned with a lattice-like net of bone reveals the practical components of a monk’s tantric, or esoteric, Buddhist practice during the monastery’s religious rituals. Woven with a distinctive wang zi pattern, a wool rug sheds light on the recurrence of certain popular motifs on textiles, furniture, and other decorative objects.

Detail: Pen Case
Detail, Pen Case, Tibet, 14th–15th c., iron, gilt,
Museum Purchase with Funds Provided by The Collectors’
Circle, 2005.46.2AB

USC Pacific Asia Museum is fortunate to have an extensive collection of Himalayan materials in its holdings that gives visitors a clear sense of the great visual beauty of the paintings and sculpture for which the region is known. Daily Rituals seeks to enhance this appreciation by emphasizing the objects’ past use by individuals not so different from ourselves, sharing the concerns of work, family and religion that occupy the larger portion of our days. Through object groupings and accompanying text and images, the exhibit will provide the visitor with a new way to experience Himalayan art and to imagine life there not as unknowable and completely foreign, but as approachable and comprehensible.

Bridget Bray, Curator/Registrar

Related Events

  • Saturday, February 10, 2pm free w/admission
    Curator's Tour
    Daily Rituals: Himalayan Art in Practice Call (626) 449-2742, ext. 31 to RSVP.

  • Saturday-Sunday, August 4-5, 10am-4pm free w/admission
    Demonstration - Artists from Tibet and Nepal demonstrate wood and stone carving in the courtyard.