Heart-shaped bead; Egypt, New Kingdom, 1550–1197 BCE; glass; Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1909.1462
Forget something? I’ll wait.
Yes, that’s right. It’s Valentine’s Day. If panic is setting in because you forgot to send your loved one a card, fear not (or Freer not, as we like to say around here), we’re here for you. Choose an e-card specially selected from the Freer|Sackler collections and all will be right with your valentine. And thanks to our recent digitization effort, Open F|S, the images will not only fill a screen, but a heart as well.
In order to ensure an excellent Valentine’s Day, you’ll need a few supplies: a red (crimson) leaf, a pen, and preferably, a palace with its own stream. Compose a love poem on the leaf and let the world know your feelings. Place the leaf in the stream and watch as it flows out of sight. It will be picked up by somebody who will write a similar poem of longing next to yours and place the leaf back in the water (pay no attention to the whole upstream/downstream thing; in this scenario, water flows to the lover), on which it will return to you. Neither of you will know who wrote the other poem—but in time, the two of you will meet, fall in love, and find out, on your wedding night, that you two penned those love poems on the same crimson leaf. Bliss is guaranteed.
Though this story originated during the Tang dynasty (618–907), “writing a poem on a crimson leaf” became a metaphor in Chinese literature to describe a happy marriage destined by fate.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Learn more about Chinese art in our collections.
Making a Valentine’s Day card in the ImaginAsia classroom.
Last Saturday, more than 120 people of all ages made their way to the ImaginAsia classroom in search of love. First, visitors viewed a digital slideshow of images of love in Asian art. Then it was time to roll up their sleeves. Participants used printing blocks that say “love” in more than a dozen Asian languages as well as symbols of love to print vivid Valentines to take home. Languages included Arabic, Bengali, Cambodian, Chinese, Farsi, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Tamil, Thai, and Turkish.
No matter how you say it, Happy Valentine’s Day!