We were told in the first lecture that we have to do a report on an artefact in Asian Civilization Museum by week 3, I immediately went to ACM on the weekend of week 1! Sadly that means I don’t have a selfie with the artefact for my initial trip.
Update: I went back to the museum on 25-8-16 and took a selfie with the artefact!
Anyway, first let me post the report assignment:
Artefact name: Buddha Protected by Naga Muchalinda
Currently houses inside Singapore’s Asian Civilization Museum within their South Asia and the Islamic World exhibition, this Buddhist sculpture originated from Cambodia in the 11th or 12th century. Named Buddha Protected by Naga Muchalinda, this sculpture is curved out of dull yellow compacted sand known as sandstone.
The sculpture initial colour would probably have a brighter and more orange-ish hue or could have been even painted but the hush punishment from passage of time over a period of a thousand years would have cause the change of colour that is present right now. There are also visible cracks and torn off part at the bottom of the sculpture, which further suggest the old age of this Buddhist artefact.
The sculpture itself depicts a human figure sitting on what appears to be a coiled up snake with the seven of its heads towering over the figure. The human figure appears to be a topless male sitting in a meditative position with his eyes and mouth closed. This human figure can be thought of as Buddha due to the lack of jewelleries. The seven-headed snake can then be thought of as Naga Muchalinda, a King Cobra deity found in Hinduism and Buddhism traditions and influenced by the similar Cambodian myths.
The calm expression of Buddha and the protective stance of Naga give this sculpture an aura of serenity and peace. It is probably found in a Buddhist stupa or temple to be used as a decorative artefact to promote inner-peace while mediating.
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This is the official plate description for the sculpture:
As stated above, this is part of the SEA collection they have right now, and naturally I also took a look around some of the other artefacts:
This isn’t the first time I have been to ACM though, as I was previously here to do my group project research for the Tang Shipwreck back in AY15/16 Sem 2:
Too bad most other SEA collections are currently being kept as the Christianity in Asia exhibition is going-on. So I took that chance to learn more about Asian Christian artefacts! I am surprised to see some of the artefacts and historical figures introduced in Art History II were present in the exhibition!
I guess part of the fun of being an art history student is that learning takes place beyond just the lecture, tutorial, and readings. We also get to visit exhibitions and learn more about those historical artefacts and their significant first-hand. Perhaps that is why I decided to sign up for this years NTU Gem Discoverer Prelude exchange programme in Indonesia, as I hope to learn more about their culture and visit their museums and scared temples.
As I mentioned earlier, I went back to ACM on the 25 August and I took this chance to look at the Trade exhibition and took note of some of the more interesting artefacts and artworks on display:
An example would be the 1700s China Porcelain that has Jesus Christ in it. That took me by surprise, yet at the same time I shouldn’t be as I have seen cross-cultural objects before (Chinese Mother Mary and Japan’s Buddha on a Cross are some examples). It certainly is exciting to visit museum as you will never know what kind of interesting objects you will bump into next!