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Japanese Art Lovers, New York's Metropolitan Museum Has 300,000 Gifts for You

猿若町芝居の図 Picture of the Theatres in Sakai Cho

Utagawa Hiroshige, “Picture of the Theatres in Sakai Cho (猿若町芝居の図).” Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, known to locals simply as “the Met,” has released more than 300,000 images of artworks and other cultural artifacts in its collection into the public domain, available for unrestricted use. We at Global Voices wrote about it last month.

According to the Met:

On February 7, 2017, The Metropolitan Museum of Art implemented a new policy known as Open Access, which makes images of artworks it believes to be in the public domain widely and freely available for unrestricted use, and at no cost, in accordance with the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) designation.

Anyone can use the artwork for any purpose, as long as they credit the original donors of the artwork, as well as the Met itself.

The Met's collection includes vast amounts of public-domain images of Japanese art. To find exactly what you want, you can search by the name of the artist, such as woodblock print maker Utagawa Hiroshige.

The easiest way to see the collection, however, is to browse according to object type, date, and era.

For example, the collection includes images of Japanese pottery, ceramics, and sculpture from at least the past 2,000 years, including this sculpture that dates to the 5th century.

Haniwa (Hollow Clay Sculpture) of a Boar with Bound Feet

“Haniwa Hollow Clay Sculpture of a Boar with Bound Feet (埴輪猪像).” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975.

This “haniwa” sculpture of a warrior in armor dates from about the same time.

埴輪武装男子像 Haniwa Warrior

“埴輪武装男子像
Haniwa (Hollow Clay Sculpture) of a Warrior.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975

The collection contains many treasures, such as this relief dating back 1,300 years to Japan's Asuka Period, when Buddhism was first adopted in the country.

Japan Asuka Sculpture

“Relief tile with Buddhist triad, second half of the 7th century. Japan, Asuka period (538–710).” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015.

There are examples of sculpture from just about every period in Japanese history. These statues of six of the twelve “heavenly generals” (Jūni shinshō, 十二神将) exemplify the baroque, highly-detailed style typical of Japan's Kamakura Period in the 14th century.

Six of the Twelve Divine Generals (Jūni shinshō)

“Six of the Twelve Divine Generals (Jūni shinshō, 十二神将の内).” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015.

The collection also features examples of Japanese scrolls, such as this ink mandala with Rāgarāja as its central figure, dating from the 11th century during Japan's Heian Period.

愛染曼荼羅 Aizen Mandala

“Aizen Mandala (愛染曼荼羅).” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015.

There are also plenty of unique, idiosyncratic pieces in the collection. This is a portable shrine dating from 1620 during Japan's Edo Period. The shrine is intended to transport a statue of a horse-headed (Batō) Kannon.

Portable Shrine with the Horse-Headed Kannon

“Portable Shrine with the Horse-Headed Kannon (厨子入馬頭漢音坐像).” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Friends of Far Eastern Art Gifts, 1985

The collection also includes more recent artwork, including art from Japan's Meiji Period, which roughly coincided with the Victorian Era in the West. The triptych depicts a scene from the Russo-Japanese War.

A scene of Sino-Japan war, The Splendid Deed of the Brave Soldier Shirakami

“A scene of Sino-Japan war, The Splendid Deed of the Brave Soldier Shirakami.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Lincoln Kirstein, 1959.

This cloth-baby carrier is part of the Met's Japanese textiles collection, and dates from the Taisho Era during and following World War One:

Baby Carrier

“Baby Carrier, Taishō period (1912–26).” Metropolitan Museum of Art, Funds from various donors, 1981.

The collection includes images of Japanese calligraphy, including this scroll by Seigan Soi, who lived from 1588 to 1661, during the Edo Period.

calligraphy

“清巌宗渭 地獄, Hell.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Sylvan Barnet and William Burto, in honor of Setsu Isao, 2014.

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