Chinese Mountains of Immortality: A Focused Look

April 2, 2005 – September 25, 2005

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
1050 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC

Sublevel 1 Floor Plan

This 3-object installation examines Chinese images of mountains by comparing a 2nd-1st century B.C. incense burner with 2 later hanging scrolls of mountains -- one from the Song to Ming dynasties (13th-15th centuries) and one by Zhu Dan (1683). Since the time of the First Emperor of Qin (221-210 B.C.), moutainous islands in the eastern sea were considered a source of immortality and later became a metaphor for the source of eternal happiness. Introduced in the 2nd century B.C., mountain-shaped incense burners were highly valued by the society's elite. As the incense burned, smoke would rise out of the holes in the lid like mist over mysterious mountain terrains. The scrolls similarly depict the peaks shrouded in enigmatic clouds.