The collection of Asian art includes diverse materials from China, Japan, Korea, Southeast and Central Asia, and India, dating from Neolithic to present times. The strengths of the collection are in Chinese and Japanese art ranging from Neolithic pottery and jade, ancient ritual bronze vessels, ceramics, lacquerware, metalware, and sculpture to woodblock prints, painting, and calligraphy. In the arts of China, the collections of calligraphy and painting rank among the finest outside Asia. Calligraphic works range from Buddhist and Daoist scriptures of the Tang dynasty to poems, records, and letters from the Song dynasty. Among the paintings are rare masterpieces from the Song and Yuan dynasties as well as numerous examples by later masters. The collection also includes Shang dynasty oracle bones, ancient ritual bronze vessels, ceramic vessels and figurines, Buddhist sculpture, and a rare group of Liao or Jin dynasty painted wood tomb panels and coffin boards from the tenth to thirteenth centuries. The Museum has the nucleus of a fine collection of Japanese art, with works ranging from Jōmon to modern period ceramics, Heian and Kamakura period sculpture, as well as painting, calligraphy, screens, and woodblock prints from the Heian to contemporary periods. The elegance of Korean celadon and porcelain ceramics are also displayed. Metal, stone, and terracotta sculptures from Southeast Asia, India, Gandhara, and other Central Asian regions make it possible for the visitor to trace Buddhist sculptural styles from early forms to later developments in East Asia. Works from the collection are exhibited in the Asian galleries on a rotating basis throughout the year.

Selections from the Princeton University Art Museum's Asian art collection are presented in the Asian Art Website. The arts of Asia are examined in a cultural and historical context. 

Also visit the exhibition website The Tōkaidō Road: 19th and 20th Century Journeys through Japanese Prints.

To link to the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, click here.

Sacred Caves of the Silk Road: Ways of Knowing and Re-creating Dunhuang

At the western edge of China lies the Taklamakan Desert. Bordered by mountain ranges to its north and south, the desert stands as a forbidding gateway between the civilizations of East and Central Asia. To traverse this formidable expanse, two trade routes sprang up running along the northern and southern edges of the desert. These twin branches of the ancient Silk Road, which connected the Chinese empire to cities as far west as Rome and Constantinople, met in the oasis town of Dunhuang. Sacred Caves of the Silk Road: Ways of Knowing and Re-creating Dunhuang explores this unique site.

Princeton's Great Persian Book of Kings

Composed more than one thousand years ago by the Persian poet Firdausi, the Shahnama, or Book of Kings, narrates the story of Iran from the dawn of time to the seventh century A.D. This sweeping epic spans the reigns of fifty mythical, legendary, and historical monarchs and contains countless tales of Iran’s ancient heroes and villains, triumphs and defeats. In fall 2014, the codex was disbound for conservation treatment by the Preservation Office at the Princeton University Library, a meticulous process that has resulted in the volume’s long-term stabilization and preservation. Happily, this work has also allowed the Museum the opportunity to display all of the manuscript’s illustrated folios as individual works of art and to introduce one of the University’s treasures to a broad audience, with the exhibition Princeton's Great Persian Book of Kings.

Appropriation and Reinvention: Chigusa and the Art of Tea in Japan

Chigusa and the Art of Tea in Japan centers on a large ceramic vessel, known as Chigusa, that achieved great fame in sixteenth-century Japan as a tea-leaf storage jar. It was used in chanoyu, the practice of tea. In chanoyu small groups of gentlemen met to drink bowls of green tea while appreciating and discussing the objects used in the beverage’s preparation. The acclaim the jar commanded was so great that it was given a proper name, Chigusa. Depending on the characters chosen to write it, Chigusa means “myriad plants” or “myriad things,” an autumnal motif found in classical Japanese poems.

Stories in Miniature: South Asian Painting at Princeton

Brightly colored and full of detail, Indian miniatures have become highly sought after works of art across the globe. Recently a collecting focus for the Museum, this field offers images rich in narrative, color, and brilliant execution. Discover fine examples of small manuscript paintings from the Museum’s collections, including those recently featured in this article by Assistant Curator of Asian Art Zoe Kwok.

Chigusa and the Art of Tea in Japan

Chigusa and the Art of Tea in Japan brings to Princeton an object that reached a high peak of fame in sixteenth-century Japan: a tea-leaf storage jar named Chigusa. Remarkably, Chigusa’s history can be tracked from even before that time up to the present day, a span of some seven centuries that saw the jar move from China to Japan, where it circulated widely, and recently to the United States.

Cary Liu

Curator of Asian Art

Cary Y. Liu is a specialist in Chinese architectural history and art history; he holds M.Arch. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University and is a licensed architect. Recent exhibitions for which he has been curator include Outside In: Chinese x American x Contemporary Art (2009); Providing for the Afterlife: "Brilliant Artifacts" from Shandong (2005); Recarving China's Past: Art, Archaeology, and Architecture of the "Wu Family Shrines" (2005); and The Embodied Image: Chinese Calligraphy from the John B. Elliott Collection (1999). Among his publications are contributions to Art of the Sung and Yüan: Ritual, Ethnicity, and Style in Painting (1999) and to the journals Hong Kong University Museum Journal, Oriental Art, Orientations, Taida Journal, and T'oung Pao. He also published the essays "Between the Titans: Constructions of Modernity and Tradition at the Dawn of Chinese Architectural History" in Bridges to Heaven: Essays on East Asian Art in Honor of Professor Wen C. Fong (2011) and "Chinese Architectural Aesthetics: Patterns of Living and Being between Past and Present" in House, Home, Family: Living and Being Chinese (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005).

Zoe Kwok

Assistant Curator of Asian Art

Zoe S. Kwok joined the Art Museum in 2013 and is a specialist in Chinese art history.  She has a B.A. in history and art history from Wellesley College, an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Harvard University, and received a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2013. Prior to joining the Art Museum, Kwok was an adjunct visiting professor at Franklin & Marshall College.  She has also worked at the National Palace Museum, Taiwan and was a Fulbright Fellow in China.