Asian Works of Art in the Saint Louis Museum

AsianWorks of Art in the Saint Louis Museum

Sincetime immemorial, museums have been in existence for the purpose ofpreserving history, culture, and artifacts. The Saint Louis Museum islocated in the United States, and it is one of the major museums inthe country. It preserves different cultural materials, artifacts,and paintings among others. The museum incorporates a vast variety ofcultures ranging from African, American, African American, to Asianart. In my research, I focused on four Asian works of Art present inthe Saint Louis Museum. The first work of Asian Art that I lookedinto was the Japanese Banquet Table (kakeban) with Design of Cloudsand Chrysanthemums. The second work of art was the Korean Bottle(byeong). In addition, I focused on a third work of Asian Art knownas the Chinese Appliqué in the Form of a Zoomorphic Mask. My finalfocus was on the Chinese Censer with Cover and Stand. As observed, Idid not concentrate on only one Asian country rather I looked intothree of them as depicted by the titles of the Asian works of Art(Tranel 179).

Theprovenance of the Japanese Banquet Table (kakeban) with Design ofClouds and Chrysanthemums is in Japan as depicted by the title of theobject. This work of Asian Art was executed during the Muromachi(1338-1573) or Momoyoma (1573-1615) period in accordance to theJapanese culture. I chose this object because the salient goldencolor piqued my interest. In addition to the golden color, theBanquet Table has a sliver color. This material used to make thisobject is wood, and it is coated using lacquer. The Banquet Table wasmade for the purposes of being used as a serving table. The four legsof the table are slightly raised, and have a bent, curved structureas well. The Banquet Table is elegant, and was only to be presentedin front of the bourgeoisie in Japan. Due to its quality, and highclass nature, the table was only to be used by people of a specificclass as mentioned above the bourgeoisie. Since 1978 up until 2004,there have been many publications done in regard to the JapaneseBanquet Table (kakeban) with Design of Clouds and Chrysanthemums(Wright 60).

Thesecond object the Korean Bottle (byeong), has its provenance inKorea as shown by the title. This work of Asian Art was made duringthe Goryeodynasty (918–1392) which was initiated by King Taejo. I chose thisobject because I loved its shape, and the shades of green color onthe bottle. The Korean Bottle (byeong) is made of bronze material.According to the Korean culture, the forms of vases originate fromnature, human form or animals. In regard to the Korean Bottle(byeong), the vase has its origin from the human form. It is alsoimportant to realize that according to the human forms, the vases areeither masculine or feminine. The feminine vases have a long andslender neck with a slope at the bottom while the masculine ones arerelatively wide. For this reason, it is important to outline that theKorean Bottle (byeong) bottle I looked into is feminine. The bottlehas a slender neck and a slope at the bottom. The Korean Bottle(byeog) was made for the purposes of ritual ceremonies. The objectwas used by the Buddhists in their temples to carry out their ritualceremonies. In 1916, there was one publication done concerning theKorean Bottle (byeong) bottle (Wright 61).

Thethird object that I took an interest in was the ChineseAppliqué in the Form of a Zoomorphic Mask. As its title suggests,the provenance of this object is in China. It was during the WesternZhou dynasty (1046–771 BC) by King Wu in which this object wasmade. I picked this object because of its unique nature. I found itextraordinary when I observed human physical features such as eyes,and ears on the zoomorphic mask. For this reason, I developed aninterest in it, and further researched on the object. Just like theKorean Bottle (byeong), the Zoomorphic Mask is made of bronzematerial. I observed that unlike the other objects, the ZoomorphicMask did not have a precise reason as to why it was made. Accordingto different beliefs, it was speculated that this object was made inorder for the artists to showcase their skills in regard to thebronze material. Moreover, there was another speculation concerninghuman beings, and their ancestors. It was believed that theZoomorphic Mask was once worn by those spiritual individuals who werelinks between human beings, and the ancestors. The final answerhowever regarding the meaning of the object was that it has aspiritual or religious background. Just like the other objects, Iobserved that the Zoomorphic Mask had various publications beginningfrom 1953 up until 1997.

Thelast work of Asian Art that I selected from the Saint Louis Museumwas the ChineseCenser with Cover and Stand. The provenance of this object is inChina hence its title. The Chinese Censer with Cover and Stand wasmade during the Ming (1368–1644)or Qing (1644–1911) dynasty according to the Chinese culture. Iopted for this object because I was impressed by its interlockingstructure. The Chinese Censer with Cover and Stand is not only madeof bronze but, also wood, and jade materials. Through my research, Iobtained the knowledge that this object was among the first ones tobe made of bronze in regard to the works of Ming. As mentioned above,the Chinese Censer with Cover and Stand has an interlocking nature,and an ancient decoration with prevailing touches of patinacorrosion. There have been no publications observed concerning thisobject but, there was an exhibition in 2001 in which the ChineseCenser with Cover and Stand was showcased (Newsom 55).

Inconclusion, I obtained a lot of knowledge during my research on theworks of Asian Art present in the Saint Louis Museum. The first thingI learned leans toward the fact that there are many forms, and typesof art. In as much they are of different cultures, and each belong todifferent communities, I observed that there are some componentsabout Art that are the same, and would not change regardless of thefact that they each belong to different cultures. Furthermore,through these works of art, I realized that nothing is created out ofthin air. As discussed above, there was a reason for the creation ofeach of the four works of Asian Art. In fact, most of them were madefor religious and spiritual matters. Also, through the JapaneseBanquet Table (kakeban) with Design of Clouds and Chrysanthemums, Ilearned that even in the 14thcentury, there was bigotry in regard to social status. According toits description, it was clear that those people of the lower classwere not allowed to dine from the Banquet Table. It was set aside forthose noble and wealthy people in the Japan societies. Additionally,through the Korean Bottle (byeong),I learnt that some societies still uphold women despite the fact thatmost of them are male chauvinistic. In most cases, the feminine partywould not be noticed but, it was not the case when it came to thedifferent types of human forms of vases. Finally, in my opinion, itis important for every individual to visit museums at least once inevery month. The knowledge obtained from these institutions isformidable, and necessary for each person. Besides, most museums donot ask for entry charges or if they do, it is affordable. For thisreason, it becomes an enigma as to why people fail to visit suchsceneries. In fact, it is institutions such as museums that bring intourists to various countries, and for this reason, it is importantfor the citizens to exploit them as well.


Newsom,Barbara Y. TheArt Museum as Educator: A Coll. of Studies as Guides to Practice andPolicy.Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1978. Print.

Tranel,Mark. St.Louis Plans: The Ideal and the Real St. Louis.St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 2007. Print.

Wright,John A. DiscoveringAfrican American St. Louis: A Guide to Historic Sites.Saint Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 2002. Print.