The Collection of South, Southeast and Central Asian Art houses one of the most important collections worldwide of art from the Indo-Asian cultural area, from the 4th millenium BC to the present. This extensive geographic region includes, next to India, the regions Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Autonomous Regions Tibet and Xinjiang of the People's Republic of China, the Southeast Asian countries of Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, as well as the Indonesian Islands.
The formative, and almost exclusive, influence on Indian art is religion. The three main religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism - are represented in the Collection of South, Southeast and Central Asian Art in the form of outstanding stone sculptures and reliefs, bronze works and terracotta pieces. With regard to the rich iconography of images of deities, the museum's collection may well be the most sophisticated outside of India. The oldest art works it contains come from Buddhist and Hindu religious buildings of the first centuries AC. The collection's Jain art and the largest part of its Hindu sculpture, on the other hand, originate from temples of the classic period or the middle ages, through to around the 13th century. As part of the redesign of the exhibition space in the year 2000, architectural features of the round stupa and the rectangular temple - the two central units of Indian religious architecture - were integrated into the layout.
As from the 12th century, Islam joined the other main religions in India. During the period of Islamic rule in India, Indian craft prospered. Metal work, ceramics, wood carvings, ivory and jade works, as well as precious textiles bear testimony to this heyday. Gorgeously coloured miniatures from the Mughal period round off the exhibition. Within the field of book art, the museum distinguishes itself through its comprehensive collection of paintings from all four of India's main religions.
The art of the Himalayan countries of Nepal and Tibet is represented by fabric painting (so-called Thangkas), wood sculptures and bronzes. The demon-like gods of protection of the 18th century are characteristic of late Tantric Buddhism.
The Southeast Asian collection includes stone and bronze figures, glazed clay reliefs, as well as grave finds from prehistoric times (3rd to 1st millenium BC), ceramic vessels, and bronze or glass jewellery.
The heart of the collection, and at the same time the architectural focus of the exhibition, is the world-famous "Turfan collection", named after the first of the four Royal Prussian expeditions to the northern Silk Road, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China between 1902 and 1914. The murals, the paintings on fabric and paper, and the clay and wood sculptures of the 3rd to 13th centuries for the most part originate from Buddhist temples. The focal point of this section is the full-scale reconstruction of a square temple decorated with original murals from Cave 123 at the oasis of Kucha.
Lansstraße 8 / Arnimallee 25
partially wheelchair accessible
Sun 11:00 - 18:00
Tue 10:00 - 17:00
Wed 10:00 - 17:00
Thu 10:00 - 17:00
Fri 10:00 - 17:00
Sat 11:00 - 18:00
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permanent exhibitions, certain times
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