The cultures of the Orient, particularly those of India, China and Tibet, have always attracted the attention of the Europeans. But few can spare the time to visit these countries, or the museums that have the collections of Asiatic art, such as the Musée Guimet in Paris or the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, or those of Amsterdam and Berlin. Moreover, in these museums, the visitor must already be well informed in order to understand the works of art exhibited there. Here, in Biarritz, Musée Asiatica would fill a vacuum because it not only presents unique works of art, but the visitor is invited to sit in their shade and to consult the information cards on all these countries, the periods and the works of art that characterize them. And while he is doing so, he can admire all around him the arts of the region concerned. Musée Asiatica is thus a different kind of museum, the only one of its kind, in fact, where the visitor may spend hours in enriching himself.
Here are exhibited jades of all periods, ivories, bronzes and porcelains. The prehistoric jades show us stylized animals like the tiger, or imaginary animals like the dragon or the chimera. Later jades show us all of the fine workmanship of the artist of the Ming period. The porcelains testify to the skills and the centuries old techniques of different regions.
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The collection of the museum is one of the best and most complete in the world with its tangkas illustrating the lamas, the wrathful deities, the mandalas or the celestial guardians. The bronzes represent great teachers, Mahasiddhas (Tantric sages) ritual objects or tranquil Buddha.
The great beauty of the works of art of this tiny Himalayan kingdom is reflected in the numerous gilt bronzes and ritual objects.
The great wooden sculptures make us dream about the temples of Kathmandu. The divinities bring to us the compassion of the Bodhisattvas and the sweetness of Tara.
THE HIMALAYAN REGIONS AND EASTERN INDIA:
Here one can discover exquisite sculptures in diorite, which come from the temples of the ninth and tenth centuries. Though the temples themselves which were built of bricks have collapsed centuries ago, disintegration of bricks has preserved for us the sculptures as if they had just received the final touches at the hands of the artists. Here are to be found also the mohras-faces of divinities which resemble masks, and which the villagers transport over considerable distances to the places where annual fairs are held.
This collection of mohras in Asiatica is unique in the world.
THE PROVINCES OF INDIA:
The provinces of India are presented in a long gallery where an atmosphere has been recreated for the visitor to sense as if he were approaching the sacred space where the gods await in the somber light the arrival and offerings of the pilgrims.Here and there, one can get to know the deities-some of them masterpieces of medieval religious art-studying the mythology, iconography and their place in time and space.
One room has been consecrated to paintings, textiles, handicrafts and jewellery, where one can admire the specialized techniques of the artists and craftsmen of India.
Musée Asiatica thus transports you to the distant regions to know their culture, their religions, their masterpieces, their craftsmanship, and if the visitor so desires, at every stage, their history, their styles of painting and sculpture.
The visitor then emerges enriched by this visit to Asia. He is impatient to visit there again, because one single visit would not suffice to learn about so many cultures and civilizations.
A guide-book of thirty-one pages is lent to each visitor, wherein he will find useful information on the works of art, history and archeology of countries concerned.
Audio-guides in English and French can be rented, which allow the visitor to concentrate on the works of art without having to refer to the guide-book. Also the audio-guide allows the visitor to see the regions or the art works he prefers and to go back easily to those he wants to see again merely by pressing the number corresponding with that on the exhibit facing him, for detailed information.