Skip to main content

Yale University Art Gallery

Attributed to Kaihō Yūshō, Pair of Screens with Dragons and Waves, Japan, Momoyama period (1573–1615), ca. 1600–1615. Ink on paper. Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Rosemarie and Leighton R. Longhi, B.A. 1967

Year of the Dragon

March 15 – November 10, 2024

This exhibition celebrates 2024, the Year of the Dragon, with a presentation of nearly 30 artworks spanning from the 17th century to the present day. In the West, the dragon has historically been characterized as an evil creature, flying through the air while breathing fire from its mouth, but in the East, the dragon is believed to possess power in the celestial realm and to pour out blessings in the form of rainwater over swirling wind. The dragon also has a place in the Eastern zodiac calendar—alongside 11 other animals, such as the rabbit, snake, and tiger—in which each year is associated with an animal and its reputed attributes. The objects on view, which are largely drawn from the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery, feature dragons on folding screens, other paintings, textiles, ceramics, ivory, and woodblock prints. Taking inspiration from East Asian history, folklore, and myth, these works demonstrate a long, complex, and continuing artistic tradition around this fantastical creature.

To learn more, click here.

Upcoming Related Program

Gallery Talk: Dragon, God of Water: Screens in Ink on Washi Paper
April 24, 2024, 12:30–1:30pm
Meet at Public Programs sign in Gallery lobby.

Join Sadako Ohki, the Japan Foundation Associate Curator of Japanese Art and curator of the exhibition Year of the Dragon, for a close examination of Pair of Screens with Dragons and Waves, attributed to the Japanese artist Kaihō Yūshō (1533–1615), and Civilization Landscape No. 073 by the Chinese artist Qin Feng (b. 1961). Though the two works were made centuries apart, they share a common medium: ink on washi paper. In the West, the dragon has historically been characterized as an evil creature, breathing fire while flying through the air, and thus has been considered something to be conquered. By contrast, in the East the dragon has long been seen as a powerful being that pours out blessings from the celestial realm in the form of rainwater over swirling wind. This object-based discussion explores how artists engage with the dragon’s celebrated role as the god of water as well as how this theme takes on a sorrowful quality with regard to today’s environmental crisis.


Now on View in the Asian Art Galleries

Three new thematic installations are on view in the second-floor Asian art galleries.

Architectural Spaces in South Asian Art features paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries that depict public and private areas at courts throughout India. Meanwhile, Sight and Sound in Chinese Painting focuses on artistic representations that illustrate the importance of music in Chinese culture. Also on display is Performance and Court in Indonesia, which situates Indonesian shadow puppets within the wider courtly context.

These highlights from the collections of Asian and Indo-Pacific art will be on view through May 2024.

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858), Kanazawa in Moonlight, from the series Eight Views of Musashi Province (Buyō Kanazawa Hasshō Yakei), 7th month, 1857, Ukiyo-e: polychrome woodblock print, triptych, Hobart and Edward Small Moore Memorial Collection, Gift of Mrs. William H. Moore

About the Asian Art Galleries

The Asian art collection of nearly 8,000 works—from East Asia, South Asia, continental Southeast Asia, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey—spans the Neolithic period to the 21st century.

The Gallery’s Chinese and Japanese collections were built initially through the gifts and bequest of Mrs. William H. Moore between 1937 and 1960. The greatest strengths of the Chinese holdings are ceramics and paintings, including a group of vessels from the Changsha region of Hunan Province, from around 500 B.C.E. to 1000 C.E., assembled for the most part by John Hadley Cox, B.A. 1935. Chinese paintings range from the Tang dynasty (618–907 C.E.) through the 20th century, with particular strengths in the 17th century and in the modern and contemporary period.

The Japanese collection has important concentrations in the arts of the Edo period (1615–1868). Approximately 1,200 prints, the majority of which are ukiyo-e prints of the 18th and 19th centuries, demonstrate the breadth of this medium, and recent additions have included a group of 20th-century prints. Several important screens and hanging scrolls of the 14th through 18th century highlight the department’s holdings of Japanese painting and calligraphy, while Japanese textiles are represented by fragments from the Shōsōin repository in Nara, Noh robes, kimonos, and a collection of Buddhist priests’ robes. Japanese ceramics, a growing area of the collection, span from the Neolithic period to the presend day, with important recent additions of contemporary ceramic sculpture.

The South Asian and Islamic collections, again founded by the gifts of Mrs. Moore, are represented by an excellent group of textiles, ceramics, miniature paintings, and manuscript pages. Gifts of over 80 Persian and Indian miniature paintings, and others of Indian sculpture, have greatly augmented the holdings of Iranian and Indian art.

To view highlights in the collection, click here.