Our cover image shows a pair of superb doors from a very significant forthcoming exhibition called Crescent Moon: Islamic Art and Civilisation of Southeast Asia. Jointly organised by the Art Gallery of South Australia and the National Gallery of Australia, this will be a groundbreaking show - the first major international exhibition on this subject ever put together. It is exciting for all of us that Australian curators are among the experts and innovators in this field of study, and we are proud to publish curator James Bennett's introduction as our lead article.
Another Australian 'first' which is covered in this issue of the Review is the collection of Rajput paintings acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria in 1980. Originally from the collection of the Rana Mewar (Maharana of Udaipur), this collection of over 250 paintings and drawings is one of the most important of its kind outside India. It was first studied by Andrew Topsfield, who published his substantial catalogue, Paintings from Rajasthan in the National Gallery of Victoria, in 1980 - his first publication. Now head of the Indian Department at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Topsfield has gone on to publish many further important books on Indian arts.
After their first showing, the NGV's paintings from Rajasthan languished virtually unseen in the storerooms during the 1980s and 1990s. Then last year, a lively selection of 76 paintings and drawings was placed on exhibition at the NGV International's new Asian gallery, and this year the exhibition travelled to Sydney for installation at the Art Gallery of NSW. Here they look truly spectacular, in a setting including textiles and architectural fragments from the Art Gallery of NSW collection which showed in stone features depicted in the paintings, and where walls match the paintings' own colours - and those colours in turn have given the Gallery's austerely beautiful new Asian wing a new and vibrant life.
TAASA ran a seminar in conjunction with Rajput: Sons of Kings in Melbourne in September 2004, and another in Sydney in July 2005. In this issue we publish abbreviated versions of three of these papers, plus shorter items from two Indian jewellery experts who presented workshops at the Sydney seminar. A 'social page' on the Sydney seminar is also included for your entertainment. Like the industry which produced the Rajput paintings in their time, the Indian film industry these days is large and lively. It seems strange, therefore, that only one Indian film was included in the program of this year's Melbourne Film Festival, while not even one was shown at the Sydney Film Festival. However, Heleanor Feltham finds a number of other Asian films to admire in the Sydney Festival program, particularly those from South Korea and Vietnam (pp.18-19).
Kerry Nguyen Long also reveals Vietnamese life to us in her perceptive introduction to the Ethnic Museum at Kon Tum, in Vietnam's Central Highlands, where traditional artifacts provide insights into the daily and ritual lives of the local ethnic communities. In the same way, Lao-Tai textiles (the subject of Patrica Cheesman's book reviewed in this issue by Russell Howard) are influenced by different religious traditions, from shamanism to Buddhism. Similarly, as revealed by Joanna Barrkman on pp. 20-21, Buddhist and Daoist traditions and beliefs are the basis of the mien fang paintings of the Yao people of Southern China.
The next (December 2005) issue of TAASA Review will focus on Ceramics. Guest editor will be Jackie Menzies, Head Curator of Asian Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
4 CRESCENT MOON RISING
A FORTHCOMING EXHIBITION OF ISLAMIC ART FROM SOUTHEAST ASIA
8 EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY: RAJASTHAN COURT PAINTINGS AND RELATED TEXTS
11 AGENTS OF DIPLOMACY, COMMERCE AND FASHION:
TEXTILES OF THE MUGHAL AND RAJPUT COURTS
13 FROM FORT TO PALACE: ROYAL RAJPUT RESIDENCES
15 AN INDIAN JASMINE BUD NECKLACE
15 A JEWELLED PORTRAIT OF A RAJPUT
16 TRAVELLER’S CHOICE: THE TRADITIONAL ROOM, KON TUM
18 INTENSIFIED PERCEPTIONS: ASIAN FILMS AT THE 52ND SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL
20 ABODES OF THE GODS
22 REPORT: NEW MUSEUM FOR TAIWAN
23 BOOK REVIEW: TEXTILE TRADITIONS
24 EXHIBITION REVIEW: A NEW CULTURAL DIALOGUE
26 WHAT’S ON IN AUSTRALIA: SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER 2005
Compiled by Tina Burge
27 TAASA ACTIVITIES – REPORTS
27 TAASA MEMBERS’ DIARY SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER 2005