At the National Museum of Asian Art, Washington, D.C.

Virtually explore the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, D.C. with Smarthistory as your guide

Some background

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Link to the National Museum of Asian Art's website

<em>Timur’s entry into Samarkand</em>, page from the <em>Zafarnama</em>
Timur’s entry into Samarkand, page from the Zafarnama

Timur's equestrian image would have been the most recognizable embodiment of his royal legacy in the Zafarnama.

Hon’ami Kōetsu, Folding Screen mounted with poems
Hon’ami Kōetsu, Folding Screen mounted with poems

Two folding screens from Edo Japan show a lavish golden garden and 36 poem cards by the famous calligrapher Hon'ami Kōetsu.

Shakyamuni, Laozi, and Confucius
Shakyamuni, Laozi, and Confucius

The composition of the painting seems to have borrowed depictions of the Three Laughers of Tiger Creek, a popular allegorical story about the meeting of three famous figures.

Li (tripod)-shaped cloisonné incense burner
Li (tripod)-shaped cloisonné incense burner

The smoke from incense was used as a link between the earthly realm and the heavenly world.

Shen Zhou, <em>A Spring Gathering</em>
Shen Zhou, A Spring Gathering

Artists during the Ming dynasty often honored their patrons by portraying them in a garden studio.

Xu Bing, <em>Monkeys Grasp for the Moon</em>
Xu Bing, Monkeys Grasp for the Moon

The artwork is based on a well-known Chinese folktale about a group of monkeys attempting to capture the moon.

Wang Wen, <em>Poem in cursive script</em>
Wang Wen, Poem in cursive script

This Chinese calligraphy piece is written on a folding fan.

Qiu Ying, <em>Journey to Shu</em>
Qiu Ying, Journey to Shu

Painted in lavish mineral-based colors of blue, green, and brownish yellow, this painting is a typical “blue-and-green” landscape in Chinese art

Copy after Qiu Ying, <em>Playing the Zither Beneath a Pine Tree</em>
Copy after Qiu Ying, Playing the Zither Beneath a Pine Tree

A scholar playing a zither while enjoying some beautiful scenery is a popular genre in Chinese landscape paintings.

<em>Eleven Dragons</em> handscroll
Eleven Dragons handscroll

This handscroll vividly portrays eleven dancing dragons.

<em>Palace Women and Children Celebrating the New Year</em>
Palace Women and Children Celebrating the New Year

This painting depicts the most important festival in China—the Lunar New Year.


This canteen exemplifies the dynamic flow of ideas and objects between the Islamic world and China that invigorated both artistic traditions.