Appliquéd silk with cloth mounting
Image: 25 x 17 1/2 inches (63.5 x 44.5 cm) Mount: 57 x 33 1/2 inches (144.8 x 85.1 cm) Frame: 2 1/8 × 51 1/4 × 31 1/4 inches (5.4 × 130.2 × 79.4 cm)
Gift of Natacha Rambova, 1960
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In 1779 and 1780, Mongolian artists worked feverishly to paint, sculpt, and sew images of elegant Buddhist deities to adorn Xumifushou Temple in time for the Emperor's seventieth birthday celebrations. The Qianlong Emperor—Manchu ruler of China—built this temple as a replica of the home of the most powerful Tibetan monk of his time, the Sixth Panchen Lama, who would attend the birthday celebrations and preside over longevity rituals performed in honor of the Emperor.
More than a new temple for a birthday party, however, this artistic production is laced with political overtones illustrating—through art—Manchu policies of employing Tibetan monks to influence Mongolian politics. The Xumifushou Temple still survives today, but much of the artworks that once adorned the temple were dispersed long ago, including several works acquired by the Museum in 1959 that remained in storage until now.
This installation reveals these hidden treasures while highlighting additional paintings, sculptures, and textile works that illustrate the legacy of this political and artistic triangle between Mongols, Manchus, and Tibetan Monks.