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The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Lady’s Coat Embroidered with Theater Images, China, mid-19th century, Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), embroidered satin, 42 inches (106.68 cm), The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Gift of Adela Van Horn, 45-34

Glamorous Women: Gender and Fashion in Chinese Art

November 18, 2023 – May 19, 2024

As early as 600 B.C.E., Chinese women’s roles in society were primarily centered within the home and their contributions to society were largely overlooked. However, art depicting women and fashions created by and for women underscore their crucial impact as tastemakers in visual culture from the 1100s to 1800s. By the 1800s, women used fashion and accessories to transform themselves from muted muses to fashionable trendsetters in Chinese society.

By looking closely at visual clues and symbolism embedded within these works, we can learn more about women’s lives, their beauty ideals, and their overall influence on art and culture. Viewed together, we see how women impacted Chinese art and culture much more fully than what we know from written history.

NelsonAtkins_PalaceladiesAfter Zhou Fang, Chinese (730 – 800 C.E.), Palace Ladies Tuning the Lute, Song Dynasty (960-1279), 12th c., handscroll; ink and color on silk, 11 x 29 5/8 in. (28 x 75.3 cm); The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri; Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 32-159/1

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Sonam Dolma Brauen (Swiss, born in Tibet, 1953), My Father’s Death, 2010 (details), cloth and plaster, 49 cast-off monk’s robes, 2 vests, and 9 molded plaster tsa tsa, dimensions variable; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Sonam Dolma and Martin Brauen in honor of Leesa Fanning, 2020.19.1-60; Photo by Martin Brauen, Bern, Switzerland

Sonam Dolma Brauen, My Father’s Death

October 28, 2023 – November 11, 2024

Personal biographies, political histories, and Tibetan Buddhist beliefs and practices inform Sonam Dolma Brauen’s sculpture My Father’s Death (2010). Born in 1953 in Tibet, Sonam and her family fled their homeland when she was a child. Assembled with robes donated by Tibetan monks and tsa tsas, molded objects used as votive offerings, My Father’s Death commemorates Sonam’s own father, Tsering Dhondup, who died a few years after the family came to India as refugees.

The exhibition pairs Sonam’s work with Buddhist sculptures from Nepal and Tibet, offering visitors the opportunity to contemplate how concepts of consecration, relics, and commemoration are explored in Buddhist art and ritual practices across time.

This exhibition is generously sponsored in Kansas City by Lilly Endowment, Inc., Evelyn Craft Belger and Richard Belger, and the Fondation Foyer.

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