Exhibition: Esthétiques de l’amour – Sibérie extrême-orientale

Musee du quai Branly - Esthetiques de l'amour

Exhibition dates: 3 November 2015 – 17 January 2016

If any readers are planning a last-minute January getaway to Paris, this exhibition looks as if it would be well worth a visit.

Among the spectacular items in the Asian collections of the Musée du quai Branly, the ancient objects collected in the far east of Siberia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are of particular interest, representing the interaction between the world of men, untamed nature and the world of the spirits. Protective robes made from fish skin with ritual accessories decorated with symbolic volutes and spirals, and everyday objects combining refined yet natural materials and decoration: eclectic and little known objects from the Amur river basin blend aesthetic elegance and ethnographic interest. These, today, are among the treasures of the Musée du quai Branly’s collection.

The exhibition presents the decorative art of the peoples of the Amur river basin, an art that embodies meaning and reveals the specific ontological construction of these peoples in their relationship with the visible and invisible world. The peoples presented – Nivkh, Nanai, the Ainu, Orotch and Hezhe (a Chinese minority) – founded their ways of life prior to the mid-twentieth century on the river Amur, which was their source of life and prosperity. The Nivkh, Nanai and the Ainu are linked by the shared practice of the bear ritual; all of these populations are linked by the same ethnolinguistic matrix and the same practices of hunting and fishing for salmonids. The ancient Chinese sources describe the inhabitants of this region of the Amur river as ‘barbarians with fish skin’ …

To find out more, visit the website of the Musée du quai Branly, Paris.