Golden Creations at 'Asian Touch'; Objects Include Jar, Tapestry in Exhibit at Sackler Gallery

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 8, 2005 | Go to article overview

Golden Creations at 'Asian Touch'; Objects Include Jar, Tapestry in Exhibit at Sackler Gallery


Byline: Joanna Shaw-Eagle, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Donald Duck's determined search for gold in "Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold!" underlines the luxury metal's draw for high and low alike as seen in the comic book and now at the Arthur M. Sackler's "Gold: The Asian Touch." "Gold" is a smallish show of 47 early and late gold objects from countries as disparate as Turkey and Japan, displayed in two plum-colored galleries. Exhibit curator Louise Cort wisely organizes the show around the techniques that make gold even more beautiful by hammering, casting and joining, stamping, repousse and chasing (created with tiny hammers for incredibly intricate designs), thin foil, wire, powder and gilding. Miss Cort, also wisely, explains the terms in the introductory wall text.

But don't go away. This could be the "oohs-and-aahs" show of the season with objects as sensational as a 15th-century Chinese gem-studded gold jar, wall-high gold-threaded turquoise Chinese tapestry, famed Japanese master Sosetsu's gold-leaf four-panel folding screen, Iranian Koran, and much more.

The "oohs" begin in the first room with the show's only solid, 24-carat-gold offering: a tiny cast gold "Wild Goose on Reeds" from Japan's Edo Period and near pure gold objects such as stamped gold coins as well as the astonishingly early, geometrized hammered-foil Chinese "Plaque With Phoenix and Dragon Heads" (a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Scott, Spring and Autumn period 770-476 B.C.).

Still in the first gallery, "oohs" continue with the very large raised-and-soldered gold sheet Indian "Earrings" and the even heavier-looking gold-sheet-with-cut-repousse-chasing-and-engraving "Marriage Necklace," also from India. Belying their appearances, however, their raised gold sheets allowed for shaping the pieces, filling them with resin or wax, to make light wearables.

Gold's purifying and beneficial effects endowed Hindu wearers, and the snake imagery of the "Earrings" gave them double protection: Snakes were seen as deities' protectors and treasures' guardians. So perfect is the geometry of the earrings - with the spheres, cones, arches, circles and trefoil standing for different reptiles - that they become tiny, perfect gold sculptures.

It's certain that "oohs" will follow when you step into the second, larger gallery with its wider and more varied scope and different kinds of gold. …

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