Oscar Niemeyer Museum
He is particularly worshipped in Mumbai, where each year his festival is celebrated at the end of August—Ganesha Chaturthi— when plaster images are made of him and are worshipped all around the town.
On the last day of the festival they are thrown in the sea, carrying with them the bad luck, giving the people hope for a better future.
The piece shown here comes from a workshop that creates images for the festival.
Yakshis are feminine entities (demigods) similar to Greek nymphs. They are part of the Hindu and Buddhist pantheons—in this case, called apsaras (heavenly ballerinas) and gandharvas (celestial musicians).
Shalabhanjika comes from Sanskrit and means “breaking a branch of a sala tree.”
Yakshis were benevolent spirits of evident sexuality, guardians of earthen riches.
The woman almost always has prominent traces (breasts, loins, thighs, and head) and is seen covered by adornments and jewelry, although some are almost naked. The goal is to highlight her femininity and fecundity.
The image of a chaste woman, in spite of her look and sometimes her pose, is associated to sala trees, which implies the plant’s fertilization in contact with the woman. [Fausto Godoy]
Other pieces of this same kind and period had a purpose (protect a house, keep demons away) and a shape (round eyes, big teeth). They may represent a mask or a helmet (hand and arms suggest a human shape), may represent a being whose hairs flutter by its head as so many other similar pieces. Anyway, it amazes us—by its material; by his / her modern or futuristic shape, as so many cave paintings dating between 30,000 and 40,000 years bc do. It merges the human gesture that created (or copied, adapted) it and the reverberation of the magical mind that animates it. It looks at us from a mythical period—and we feel what it means. A masterpiece. [Fausto Godoy]
In Asia, furniture is the testimony of a long history of the continent, revealing influences that other civilizations received along the centuries. [Fausto Godoy]
In Japan, the main feature was utilitarianism. The dansus (dressers and wardrobes) have many shapes because they served to predetermined functions. There was a specific name for each one: isho-dansu for clothes; cha-dansu for tea ceremony; zeni-bako for storing money, etc. Some were connected to staircases, used as steps: the hako-kaidan. The dansu shown here—Chobadansu—is the merchant’s dresser. [Fausto Godoy]
Furniture in China is a portrait of the aesthetic models of a hierarchical society. The austerity of the altar form of the pair of chairs shown here reveals the rigorous understanding of the world by the aristocratic bureaucracy—in China, one could only reach an imperial administrative position through very hard competition. Almost undecorated, the emphasis was on the natural beauty of wood. Rigor and tasteful frugality were favored. [Fausto Godoy]
The furniture in the Swat Valley, in Pakistan, holds to this day the memory of the Hellenistic civilization, led by Alexander ii of Macedonia (Alexander the Great) troops, when they arrived in 327 bc. Isolated by valleys that surround the extreme heights of Hindu Kush, this heritage is kept by the population in their physical features and its ancient influence is preserved in their art. Decoration, sofa and bed carvings look like the Corinthian’s acanthus leaves, which prevailed in Greece around the 5th century bc. [Fausto Godoy]
Asia: the Land, the Men, the Gods
Curatorship: Fausto Godoy and Teixeira Coelho
Promotion: Oscar Niemeyer Museum