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Translations and Transformations: Chinese Themes in Japanese Art

November 30, 2002–October 31, 2003

Chinese culture and civilization are to East Asia what Greek and Roman civilization are to the West: the classical wellspring of religious, philosophical, and artistic inspiration. The first of several waves of Chinese influence reached Japan through the Korean peninsula in the mid-sixth century in the form of Buddhist doctrine and artifacts.

Travels by Chinese diplomats, merchants, and scholars to Japan and by Japanese to the Chinese mainland provided one important channel of cultural communication over the next thousand years. Ink landscape scrolls, printed painting manuals, and ceramics from China, as well as literary sources, inspired Japanese artists to translate and transform Chinese themes such as the Three Friends of Winter or the Eight Taoist Immortals.

A group of thirty screens, hanging scrolls, and decorative arts from the museum’s collection illustrate these and other themes from Chinese art by Japanese artists.

Main Building


Dr. Felice Fischer, Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Curator of East Asian Art; Kyoko Kinoshita, Assistant Curator for Special Projects

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