USC Pacific Asia Museum

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Pasadena, California 91101
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Royal Taste: The Art of Princely Courts in Fifteenth-Century China

Stem Cup
Blue-and-white stem cup
Late Xuande reign (1426-35) to early Zhengtong reign (1436-49), before 1437
Porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue decoration, H. 4 1/8 in. (10.4 cm), Diam. (mouth) 6 1/8 in. (15.6 cm)
Excavated from the tomb of Prince Zhuang of Liang, Zhongxiang, 2001
Hubei Provincial Museum

February 26, 2016 - June 26, 2016

Known as the “Empire of Great Brightness,” the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) was one of the most prosperous and exuberant dynasties in China. It restored the native rule by overthrowing the Mongolian regime of the previous Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) and established thirteen provinces to control the vast empire. After choosing Beijing as the new capital, the Ming dynasty extended the Great Wall along the borders and restored the Grand Canal to connect waterways between the north and the south. Besides establishing its military might, the Ming dynasty also produced a splendid material culture.

Royal Taste offers a unique glimpse into the luxurious lifestyles of princely courts in early- and mid-Ming China. Featuring more than one hundred fifty works of pictorial, sculptural, and decorative arts, this exhibition sheds light on some lesser-known aspects of the palatial lives and religious patronage of Ming princes. Their regional courts were at the center of art production, creating works that showcased imperial styles while reflecting local traditions. The quality of craftsmanship and beauty of design testify to the richness and sophistication of the art and culture in the provincial courts, as well as their abundant resources.

The majority of the objects on view were selected from recent archaeological finds now in the collections of four museums in China’s Hubei province. Also included are imperially commissioned statues from Daoist temples at Mount Wudang, the birthplace of tai chi. Select examples from the USC Pacific Asia Museum’s permanent collection and the noted local collection at the Chen Art Gallery are also included to further highlight the sophisticated material culture of the period.

  Purchase Tickets  


Royal Taste is a special ticketed exhibition, click on image above to purchase tickets.



Explore Royal Taste

  • Audio Guide - Part of the exhibition, dial in to these audio guides to learn more about select objects in the exhibition!
  • QR Codes- Download a QR code app on your smartphone and learn more about select pieces in this interactive guide.
  • Booklist - Delve deeper into the Ming Dynasty with this handy list of books that will help you learn more about this important period in Chinese history.
  • Family Guide

Royal Taste Related Programming

  • March 11, 6-10 pm - Pasadena ArtNight
    Enjoy a free evening of art, music and entertainment as Pasadena's most prominent arts and cultural institutions swing open their doors for ArtNight Pasadena. Free shuttle buses link all venues all night long.
    USC PAM will host a concert by Sino US Performing Arts.
  • March 20, 2 pm - Family Workshop
    Join us as we step back in time and explore the life of the nobility in the Ming Dynasty. Take a family friendly guided tour through the exhibition and return to our art studio to create a take-home artwork with artist, Quan Yen Trang, from Barnsdall Arts. Ages 7 – 12. 1 Adult/1 Child $14 Member, Non Member $18
  • March 25, 10 am-1pm and 2-5pm- Appraisal Day
    Do you have something in your home about which you have been dying to know the value? Take advantage of this unique opportunity to meet with experts from auction house Bonhams Los Angeles and get your items appraised. East and Southeast Asian Art only. Included with General Admission
  • April 13, 7-8:30 pm - The Science of Acupuncture

    Join us and the USC Keck School’s Institute for Integrative Health for a conversations about the practice, science and art of acupuncture. Reception to follow. Free with Museum Admission.

  • June 12, 10 am - 6pm - Free 2nd Sunday

    Join us as we celebrate the arts and culture of Imperial China. Throughout the day, the Museum will offer performances, art activities, and tours of our newest exhibition, Royal Taste: The Art of Princely Courts in Fifteenth-Century China.

  • June 17, 7- 10pm - Fusion Friday

    Come for a special evening viewing of Royal Taste: The Art of Princely Courts in Fifteenth-Century China and enjoy cocktails, conversation, music and fun hands-on activities in the courtyard.
    Admission: $15 presale, $18 nonmembers at the door. Free for members. Admission includes the Royal Taste exhibition. Designed for adults. Click here to reserve your tickets.