Meet Baolin Zhang, who creates edible festival toys out of rice flour. He will travel to Washington, DC, from Beijing to demonstrate how to make these dough figurines at our third annual Chinese New Year Celebration on Sunday, February 5.
Although this craft does not require complicated skills or rare materials, it does take a lot of artistic practice. At his demonstration, Zhang will show how he kneads colored dough into different shapes. In the video, you can see how he uses small bamboo slits to depict people, animals, and deities from traditional folktales. Along with glutinous rice flour, he uses other edible materials to create his art, including wax and honey to prevent cracking or mildewing.
After watching Bai’s demonstration, you can watch another Beijing artist use liquid sugar to paint beautiful creatures from the Chinese zodiac. Don’t worry if all this edible art makes you hungry: Pinch Dumpling will sell steamed dumplings, which you can enjoy as a casual lunch with friends and family.
All activities are free and open to the public. For more information (and to invite your friends), check out the event listing on Facebook.
On Sunday, February 5, Beijing folk artist Lin Bai will visit the Freer|Sackler as part of our third annual Chinese New Year Celebration. From 12–5 pm, you can watch him demonstrate how to make traditional bristle dolls.
This handicraft originated in Beijing more than a century ago, at the end of Qing Dynasty. In the video, you can see how Bai uses traditional materials to connect to the origins of this art form. He constructs the doll’s head and base from plaster, and he uses straw to shape the character’s bodies. The figures are then dressed in colored paper or silk and lined with cotton padding.
Bai makes characters inspired by popular operatic plays, including Uproar in Heaven and Four Pairs of Mallets. Each character is secured onto a base with a circle of sticks (or bristles), thus giving the dolls their beloved namesake. Once a collection of dolls is finished, the troupe can be placed onto a copper plate. When hit by a mallet, the figures appear to dance due to the sticks’ flexibility.
After watching Bai’s demonstration, you may be inspired to see the dolls come to life in opera performances by students from the Beijing Opera Art’s College at 12:30 and 2:30 pm. Or, you may be tempted to make your own opera mask in the museum’s ImaginAsia classroom.
Seating will be first come, first served, and all activities are free and open to the public. For more information (and to invite your friends), check out the event listing on Facebook.
Monkeys Grasp for the Moon by Xu Bing
Calling visitors of all ages: Ring in the Year of the Monkey at our second annual Lunar New Year Celebration on Saturday, February 6, 11 am–4 pm. Join us to explore the museum, take family-friendly tours of the suspended sculpture Monkeys Grasp for the Moon, and enjoy dance performances by the Madison Chinese Dance Academy. Plus: ribbon dancing, mask making, calligraphy, photo booth fun, and Lunar New Year resolutions!
About the Artwork
Chinese artist Xu Bing created Monkeys Grasp for the Moon specifically for the Freer|Sackler. Each of the sculpture’s twenty-one pieces represents the word “monkey” in one of a dozen different languages and writing systems, including Indonesian, Urdu, Hebrew, and Braille. The work is based on a Chinese folktale in which a group of monkeys attempt to capture the moon. Linking arms and tails, they form a chain reaching down from a tree branch to the moon—only to discover that it is just a shimmering reflection in a pool of water.
Listen to Xu Bing chat about the work during its initial installation at the Freer|Sackler (click on “Interview with the Artist”).
Sheep and Goat; Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322); China, Yuan dynasty, ca. 1300; ink on paper; Purchase, F1931.4
Greetings from the ImaginAsia family program!
To ring in the Year of the Sheep, we are hosting our first annual Lunar New Year Celebration on Saturday, February 21, from 11 am to 4 pm. Throughout the day, visitors of all ages can learn, play, and indulge in culinary delights to mark the new year in China, Korea, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and many other countries.
Visitors can explore the Freer|Sackler’s rich collections through educator-led tours, sample and learn how to make Lunar New Year-themed recipes with author Pat Tanumihardja, and discover the history and traditions of the holiday through book readings hosted by the DC Public Library. Other activities include creating festive good-luck figures with handmade paper and pop-up greeting cards with Sushmita Mazumdar, a local book artist.
This event, held in the midst of the fifteen-day holiday, is co-organized by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.
Can’t wait for Saturday? Send a Lunar New Year e-card now!
Case study: Japanese books from the Gerhard Pulverer collection
On Saturday, April 6, Hand-Held: Gerhard Pulverer’s Japanese Illustrated Books opens in the Sackler. In honor of the exhibition, we’re hosting a weekend celebrating Japanese arts and design. Check our calendar to learn more about the events that include tours, talks, hands-on activities, and music.
Digging for buried treasure during Eid al Arabia.
In honor of its new exhibition, Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Sackler Gallery recently hosted Eid al Arabia: A Cultural Celebration. The morning began with a symposium on archaeological discoveries in the Arabian Peninsula, followed by a day of activities for families. These included sessions on Arabic calligraphy; storytelling by Surabhi Shah; concerts of traditional Saudi music; and an archaeology program for budding explorers. All told, nearly 3,000 people traveled the roads of Arabia, digging a little deeper into the art, history, and culture of the ancient kingdom.
Taking a closer look at the exhibition Roads of Arabia during the family day celebration.
Dancing at the Freer|Sackler during the Inspired by India family celebration. (All photos by Neil Greentree.)
On Saturday, more than 7,000 people were inspired by India at our family celebration in honor of the exhibition Worlds within Worlds: Imperial Paintings from India and Iran. Bollywood dancers shared the afternoon with classical Kathak dancers to create a synergy of color, light, and movement. Were you there?
What’s your favorite type of dance: traditional or contemporary?
Check out other Inspired by India events on Bento.
Learning to dance Bollywood style.
Traditional kathak dance on stage at the Freer’s Meyer Auditorium.
From Bollywood to bindi, our Inspired by India family celebration had something for everyone. The day’s events are almost over, but Bollywood film Mugal-e-Azam starts at 5:30.
Kathak dancer Prachi Dalal.
Prachi Dalal performs in a program of traditional kathak dance. These include stories from the temple traditions of storytelling, courtly customs, and royal challenges as well as songs of mysticism, devotion, passion, and play (by leoncio). The next (and final) performance begins at 3pm in the Meyer Auditorium.
In honor of Inspired by India and Worlds within Worlds, Nirupama Rao, the Ambassador of India to the United States, leads a traditional lamplighting ceremony as an auspicious start to this family festival.”India is not easy to embrace in a moment,” she told the overflowing crowds, “You need a lifetime.” Today, I’m sure, is a good place to start…