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National Museum of Asian Art Opens Revealing Krishna
May 6, 2022
Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain
National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution
On view now through September 18, 2022
Revealing Krishna transports visitors to a sacred mountain in the floodplains of southern Cambodia. The exhibition, which was organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art, showcases a monumental sculpture of the Hindu god Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan to protect his people from a torrential storm sent by an angry god. For the first time, the sculpture is explored in the context of its original environment, as part of a multi-religious landscape and quite literally built into a mountain. This larger than life-size sculpture is one of eight monumental deity figures recovered from cave temples on the two-peaked mountain of Phnom Da near the ancient metropolis of Angkor Borei. The exhibition tells the life story of this sculptural masterpiece—spanning 1,500 years and three continents—and unveils the newly restored Krishna in an exhibition that integrates art, immersive video installations, and interactive design.
The exhibition includes an original short film directed by renowned Cambodian American film maker praCh Ly. Titled Satook, a word of blessing spoken at the end of Cambodian prayers, the film examines the role of ancient sacred sites in present-day religious landscapes, and the transformation of religious traditions in Cambodian American diaspora communities.
Sacred Art from Cambodia: Blessing Ceremony
Gallery Talk: Meet Filmmaker praCh Ly
In-person programs, May 14, 2 and 3pm
The Blessing Ceremony, led by two monks from the Cambodian Buddhist temple Watt Buddhacheya Mongkol in Woodbridge, Virginia, uses practices such as chanting, sprinkling water, and specific hand gestures to confer protection and good luck. Afterwards, enjoy Cambodian-inspired refreshments by Oh Graze Away and Little Lana’s Cookies. Then go inside to experience the exhibition and meet curator Emma Natalya Stein and praCh Ly, director of the documentary film Satook, which explores the transformation of religious traditions in Cambodian American communities.
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