The Asian Art Section displays a multitude of artwork and cultural objects gathered from throughout the world’s largest continent, featuring pieces that reflect the universal aspects of Asian culture while simultaneously representing the unique characteristics of each country.
Central Asia is a vast landlocked region comprised mostly of arid deserts, high plateaus, and steppes. From east to west, it stretches from the Caspian Sea and Iran to China, and from north to south, it covers the area from Southern Siberia to the Himalayas. More specifically, it refers to China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the former SovietCentralAsianRepublics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
The historically dry climate in this area allows organic matter such as paper, wood, and cloth to remain relatively well-preserved, even after more than 1000 years. During the 18th and early 19th century, European archeological expeditions were regularly carried out in Central Asia, yielding a wealth of precious ancient documents and art works. During this period, a group of Japanese monks led by Otani Kozui (1876-1948) launched three different expeditions in the region, collecting numerous relics. Some of the pieces became part of the collection of the museum of the Japanese colonial government (1915-1945) in Seoul, which was eventually taken over by the National Museum of Korea when the Japanese left Korea.
The Central Asia gallery presents the complex, cosmopolitan features of Central Asian art and culture, while highlighting Korean culture from the perspective of East-West exchange via the Silk Road.