By the fourteenth century, Tibetan artists were very much aware of Chinese painting traditions and motifs. Over the course of several centuries, there were regular exchanges between the courts at the imperial capitals of China and the religious centers of Tibet. Integrating the gnarled landscapes, fantastic fauna, and distinctive brushwork of Chinese paintings, Tibetan depictions of Arhats (early Indian disciples of the Buddha) clearly exhibit the artistic consequences of this cultural exchange. Likewise, by the fifteenth century, Chinese court painters were themselves producing exquisite sets of Arhat paintings that echoed traditional Tibetan compositions. Illustrating this artistic interchange, Paradise and Plumage: Chinese Connections in Tibetan Arhat Painting featured Chinese and Tibetan versions of identical compositions and juxtaposed paintings and objects of the fourteenth through eighteenth centuries from China and Tibet.
The work brought together for this unique visual investigation included tangka paintings, Chinese hanging scrolls, album leaves, porcelain ceramics, scholars’ rocks, and semiprecious treasure offerings such as coral and turquoise.
An accompanying catalogue with large color plates and texts by Professor Rob Linrothe is available.