Asian Art


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.

Beyond the Classroom: Shanghai

“Anxious Megalopolis: Shanghai’s Urban Cultures (1842 – to the present)” will be offered in the fall semester of 2014. Team-taught by Esther da Costa Meyer, professor in the Department of Art and Archaeology, and Cary Y. Liu, curator of Asian art, the class will explore traditional architecture and planning in China followed by an examination of Shanghai’s modern urban culture.

Upcoming Exhibition: Chigusa and the Art of Tea in Japan

This exhibition features an extraordinary tea-leaf storage jar named Chigusa, which though made in China in the late thirteenth or fourteenth century, spent the next seven hundred years in Japan, where it acquired the multiple dimensions of its significance—its profoundly practical use as a jar for storing tea leaves, its great prestige and value as a Chinese jar, karamono chatsubo, and its individual name chosen from court poetry. 

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.