Spade Money

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Chinese spade money is an interesting look at how important agriculture was to the kingdoms that minted this currency. Spade money evolved from weeding tools used during the Zhou Dynasty, and early types included a hollow area for a handle. Eventually the hollow areas became flat and easy to stack. Different states minted their own [...]

Knife Money

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Knife money evolved in China along with spade money during the Warring States period of the Zhou Dynasty. There is no consensus on the origin of knife money, but there are a few legends. In one of the stories a prince who was running low on money to pay his troops allowed them to use [...]

Shiva Nataraja

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In this icon, Shiva is performing the tandava, in which he is shown destroying the old universe and dancing a new one into creation. In his hands he holds fire to destroy the universe and a hand drum whose sound creates the universe. His lower right hand makes the abhayamudra, the gesture which removes fear, [...]

Tara

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Tara is an important deity in Tibetan Buddhism. In Tibet and among Tibetans in Nepal, Tara is a Buddha of compassion and is very commonly worshipped. She is also a savioress, similar to the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, who remains on the Earth to guide humanity between the era of the Gautama Buddha and the Maitreya Buddha. [...]

Tea Bowl

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This tea bowl is in the Tamba style: one of the six ancient styles of Japanese pottery. Tamba pottery has been made for over eight hundred years. This type of pottery gets its glassy look not from a glaze, but from the smoke and ash inside the kiln. Today, it is only made at one [...]

Temmoku Bowl

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This piece of Temmoku was manufactured in the Fujian province of China during the Song Dynasty. The name Temmoku comes from the Japanese pronunciation of Tianmu Shan, a mountain where Japanese Buddhist Monks came to study Zen Buddhism and took this type of bowl back to Japan. Temmoku is characterized by its iron-oxide glazes, which [...]

Ichimatsu Doll

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Named after Sanogawa Ichimatsu, an 18th c. Kabuki actor who specialized in female roles, Ichimatsu dolls are an Edo era invention. They portray little Japanese girls and boys in their holiday silk kimonos and are sometimes commissioned by the rich as portraits of their children. The dolls are display objects, not toys, and are usually [...]

Tsuba of a Katana

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A tsuba is the ring that separates the handle from the blade in traditional Japanese sword making. This tsuba is a great example of late Edo period metalwork. The Edo period was characterized by a united, isolationist Japan and a long era of peace. With the extended period of peace, tsubas reached previously unheard of [...]

Bowl

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This piece of Dingware was manufactured in Dingzhou, Hebei Province at the height of the Northern Song Dynasty. Dingzhou was a ceramic capital of the Northern Song dynasty, and Dingware was highly prized for its elegance. Before the Song Dynasty Imperial court fled south, Dingware was the tableware for aristocratic families and the Imperial court. [...]

Toran

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Toran is the Sanskrit name of a sacred or honorific gateway. Torans are used both personally, in homes, and sacredly in Buddhist and Hindu architecture. Its typical form is not fabric, as is shown here, but a wood or stone. Especially in Temple entrance ways, torans are sculptural post and lintel systems.This fabric toran was more [...]