Asian treasures in Turin, Italy

One of my favorite pieces at the Museo di Arte Orientale in Torino is the Tang terracotta sculpture that I got to write about for the WSJ— but MAO has other must-see pieces of which here are three:

in this 2nd century BC statue from Mathura in India, an evil parasitical force named Vita is luring Shikara into ambushing a maiden.   Vita comes across as determined, even disdainful as Shikara lets himself be dragged into the plot.

Shikara’s face is damaged, but check out the tentativeness of his hand on Vita’s shoulder….I read in it the mixture of weakness, desire and fear that is temptation.

Nothing damaged on this Tibetan 15th century bronze portrait of  Thang-stong-rgyal-po, a fascinating Tibetan figure who lived from 1361 till 1485 — if you ignore the fact that it is detached from its body, that is.  Thang-stong-rgyal-po was both a philosopher and a bridge-builder (they were iron chain-bridges); and he is credited with introducing Tantric practices to Tibet.  At the same, he exemplifies the notion that one can achieve enlightenment through completely non-esoteric means by performing ordinary professions with the right mind and concentration.   I find this most appealing.

And finally, a tiny head protruding on a vessel more than 4000 years old from China.  It seems the pot may have had something to do with shamanistic rituals.

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