June 17, 2014

Please check out our website for updated information.027 WEB-Jamie Pham

FUSION FRIDAYS June 20, 7:30 – 10:30 pm Enjoy a Tibetan folk dance performance along with a lesson then say namaste to a high-energy Bollywood-style performance, blend your own Indian spice mix and get decorated with mendhi designs. Komodo and India Jones food trucks serve the chow this time around.Free for members, $15 general public.Photo/Jamie Pham Photography

  • A special enter-to-win giveaway for Hollywood Bowl tickets at June 20 Fusion Fridays only! We have two pairs of tickets to “An Evening of Chinese Splendor at the Hollywood Bowl” on July 5 at 7:30 pm. This must-see event for all fans of Chinese music brings together musical superstars Song Zuying and Wang Leehom, renowned pianist Rueibin Chen performing the Yellow River Piano Concerto, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the finest acrobats and fireworks. Winners must be present at June 20 Fusion Fridays to receive the tickets. Additional information at www.hollywoodbowl.com.

NightInShanghai Sunday, June 22, 2 pm Nicole Mones: presentation and book signing of Night in Shanghai In 1936, classical pianist Thomas Greene is recruited to Shanghai to lead a jazz orchestra of fellow African-American expats. From being flat broke in segregated Baltimore to living in a mansion with servants of his own, he becomes the toast of a city obsessed with music, money and power, even as it ignores the rising winds of war. Based on a true story. Books available for purchase and signing. Light refreshments. RSVP to tailing.wong@pam.usc.edu or call 626.449.2742, ext. 20.

ONGOING  EVENTS (With the exception of the Museum Tour, all events have additional fees. For details, call Visitor Services at (626) 449-2742 ext. 0. or visit our website)

Yoga Thursdays • 12:30 – 1:30 pm $10 per class or buy a series and save. Beginners welcome! Tai Chi Saturdays • 8 – 9:30 am $10 per class; free to first time students. Beginners welcome! Chinese Calligraphy Saturdays • 8:45 – 9:45 am Come in for a free observation of this six-week series class. $80 per person, $50 if also enrolled in Chinese Brush Painting. Chinese Brush Painting Saturdays • 10 am – Noon Come in for a free observation of this six-week series class. $120 per person. Free Museum Tour Saturdays • 1 – 1:30 pm Docent-led tour looks at the highlights of the museum’s collection. Silk Road Storytime First Saturday of the month • 10:30 am Haiku Third Saturday of the month • 2 pm


Giving Thanks for our Ancestors

November 28, 2013

For Father’s Day, we shared wonderful remembrances of fathers recorded in our exhibition The Art of Continuity: Revering our Elders. Today, we’re thankful for all our friends and family, and have collected some very poignant stories from our visitors. Want to share your own? Leave a comment below or visit the exhibition before it closes on January 5 to share your story.

Click on any image to enlarge and start the slideshow.

Yut: A Classic Korean Game

October 3, 2013

yut setWho doesn’t love games? At both Fusion Fridays and our recent Free Family Festival, we had the Korean game of yut available to play. Similar to classic American board games like Sorry!, yut uses a six-by-six space square board with shortcuts through the middle and four sticks instead of dice. Using several markers (called mal, or “horse”), players throw the sticks onto the playing table and move around the board. The sticks are curved on one side and flat on the other, creating five different possible landing combinations that tell the player how many spaces to move. For example, if two sticks land round side up and two round side down, the player can advance two spaces. Because the rules are relatively simple and the materials easily made, this game has thrived for centuries in Korea.

Want to try yut for yourself? Come to this Saturday’s Silk Road Storytime where you’ll hear Korean stories, learn to play yut, and make a set of your own! If you can’t make it, just print out the board and rule sheet below (click to enlarge) and grab some pennies and popsicle sticks– it’s as easy as coloring one side of each stick.

yut rules

yut board

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

September 19, 2013

mooncakeToday marks the 15th day in the 8th lunar month of the year, which means many cultures throughout Asia are celebrating. This date marks the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, and is celebrated with harvest festivals in many parts of Asia. These festivals are usually celebrated as a family or community holiday, when all come together to share traditional food and spend time with each other.

Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節, also known as Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival) is celebrated in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. You may be familiar with the dense mooncakes traditionally given as gifts during this time, which involve a rich pastry crust usually filled with an egg yolk (symbolizing a full moon) and red bean or lotus seed paste. These cakes are given to friends, family and coworkers in the days leading up to the holiday. Lion dances and dragon dances are also common in parades and community celebrations, and bright lanterns adorn houses, temples and city squares.

Dragon Dance

A dragon dance performed at Pacific Asia Museum.

The tale most commonly associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival is that of Chang-e, the moon goddess. While there are many different versions, one common story begins with the couple as immortals living in heaven. Houyi is an expert archer, and when the ten sons of the Jade Emperor transform into ten suns, scorching Earth, Houyi shoots down all but one. The Jade Emperor is furious and banishes them to Earth as mortals, and Houyi goes on a quest to regain immortality. He finds it in the form of a pill which he brings home and hides. Chang’e discovers the pill and swallows it, and flies to the moon (in certain versions, she’s fleeing her angry husband. In others, he tries and fails to save her from floating away). Houyi is devastated and builds himself a palace on the sun, and once a year can visit Chang’e on the moon– a day celebrated as the Moon Festival.

In Vietnam today, the Mid-Autumn Festival also references the Chang-e story and involves similar traditions as in China, though historically the holiday originated as a festival to honor the mythical dragon who brought rain for crops. In addition to practices shared with the Chinese, there is a special emphasis on children during this holiday (Tết Trung Thu in Vietnamese). The community plans a number of activities for children that day, including crafts, parades and performances in which the children participate. Adults also give children small presents for the occasion.

Chuseok gift sets

Chuseok gift sets for sale in Korea. Source: hojusaram on Flickr.

In Korea, Chuseok (추석) is celebrated on the same day of the lunar calendar as the Mid-Autumn Festival. As in China and Vietnam, families spend this holiday together, and traditionally thank their ancestors for the harvest. Games, sport and dances accompany other traditions including visiting ancestors’ graves to remove weeds and offer special food for the occasion. One particularly important dish is songpyeon, a dumpling of sorts made of rice and filled with sesame, red bean, chestnut or other ingredients. These are steamed on pine needles, which give the songpyeon a distinctive flavor (and fill the home with the scent of fall). Families will often make these together, emphasizing the importance of family during this holiday. Koreans will also exchange gifts, though not usually of mooncakes– cookies, fruit, gift sets and even Spam are popular.

Want to experience Mid-Autumn Festival for yourself? On Sunday, October 6, we’re holding a celebration in partnership with Chinese Culture Development Center complete with performances, food, crafts and more. This event is free for members and included with admission for non-members– discounted advance tickets are available here! ~CM

“Revering our Elders” in the Pacific Islands

August 15, 2013

Pacific Island ObjectsIn addition to Chinese and Japanese objects, The Art of Continuity: Revering our Elders also contains traditional objects from the Pacific Islands. While the cultures differ in many ways, there are commonalities in the important role ancestors and spirits play in ritual settings.

Yam MasksThe objects featured from the Pacific Islands are closely linked to the religious ideas and social customs of the region.  These utilitarian and ritual objects reveal much about the belief systems to which they are related, and are deeply rooted in a reverence for ancestors. The souls of the deceased family members or important figures in tribes have been understood to have a great influence on the living. In addition, certain archetypal ancestor figures such as Father Sky and Mother Earth are also revered broadly. Therefore, various objects such as sculptures, dress, structures and weapons have been embellished with depictions of ancestral figures, either family members or respected members of their villages, to ensure their continuing guidance and protection. When such objects were activated through proper rituals and ceremonies, they could double as vessels which embodied deceased ancestors and forebears.

Yam MasksIn the Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea, yam masks are used in ceremonial contexts and during the annual yam festival. As a main staple in the regional diet, the yam has been venerated to invite abundant harvests and fertility in villages as well as for political and social order. During annual yam festivals, the largest yam would be decorated with a mask such as these, and this yam became the temporary abode of the ancestor spirit. The spirit would be invoked with songs, chants, dances and offerings. The male who grew the biggest yam of the harvest and dancers at male initiation ceremonies would also wear these masks to personify the spirit. This performance strengthened the connection between men, clan ancestors and yams, reaching back through the generations.

Ancestor statueMany sculptures and masks in human forms from Papua New Guinea portray deceased members of family or village elders. By revering communal ancestor spirits, people connect themselves with their larger community and establish shared identities, which have been considered equally, if not more, important than individual familial ties. Life-size ancestor figures such as this were prepared to accompany various ceremonies and rituals like male initiations and yam festivals. This figure embodies a male ancestral spirit, and was embellished with vibrant colors which are still visible in some areas of the sculpture. During ceremonies, such statues were further decorated with flowers and feathers, and after the ceremonies, were housed in the communal spirit house.

These objects are certainly worth a closer look in our exhibition. To learn more, see the exhibition page on our website. ~CM

Yam Mask, Papua New Guinea; Sepik River, 20th century, Vegetable fiber, pigment, Gift of Dr. Seymour Ulansey, 1982.148.11
Yam Mask, Papua New Guinea; Sepik River; Maprik Area, mid-20th century, Vegetable fiber, pigment, Gift of Harlan Givelber, 2002.6.1
Yam Mask, Papua New Guinea; Sepik River, early to mid-20th century, Vegetable fiber, pigment, Gift of Harlan Givelber, 2002.6.2
Yam Mask, Papua New Guinea; Sepik River, 20th century, Wood, pigment, Gift of Dr. John B. Ross, 2003.48.15
Yam Mask, Papua New Guinea; Sepik River, early 20th century, Wood, pigment, Gift of Harlan Givelber, 2000.40.6
Ancestor Figure, Papua New Guinea, early 20th century, Wood, pigment, Gift of Richard M. Cohen, 1984.87.13

Bon Odori and Fusion Fridays

June 20, 2013
Bon Odori

A member of Kotobuki No Kai performs Bon Odori, Kotobuki No Kai will teach two dances at Fusion Fridays.

Throughout Japan, the summer Obon festivals usually include a form of group dancing called Bon Odori. While Obon festivities usually take place in July and August in Japan, we’re getting started a little early at tomorrow’s installment of Fusion Fridays, when Kotobuki No Kai will demonstrate and teach attendees some of these traditional dances.

Obon festival is a Japanese holiday with Buddhist and Confucian roots to honor one’s ancestors, and celebrates the filial piety of Buddha’s disciple Maha Maudgalyayana (Mokuren in Japanese). Mokuren had a vision of his deceased mother suffering in the afterlife, and asked Buddha how to alleviate her suffering. Buddha instructed Mokuren to give offerings to Buddhist monks returning from their summer retreat. Once he did this, his mother was released from suffering and Mokuren danced with joy.


Shuzo Ikeda, Mokuren, Japan, 1965, Woodblock print on paper, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Felix Jude, Pacific Asia Museum Collection, 1977.55.19

During this holiday, people visit and clean the graves of their ancestors. During this time, ancestral spirits are said to visit household altars. This is also a time for the community to gather for food, drink, dancing and fun activities while wearing yukata, the light summertime style of kimono. These festivals traditionally close as participants float illuminated lanterns down a river, symbolizing the departure of the spirits until the next year. Large Japanese immigrant populations have spread the Obon festival around the world, including Malaysia, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and the U.S., and similar festivals are practiced in China and Korea.

Bon Odori dances vary across Japan, and musical accompaniment can vary as well. These dances have their roots in folk traditions welcoming the spirits of the dead and are performed by the entire community in a circle. At Fusion Fridays, Kotobuki No Kai will teach Tokyo Ondo and Kyushu Tanko Bushi. Tokyo Ondo is named for Japan’s capital, and involves a combination of claps and simple arm movements as the group moves in a circle. Kyushu Tanko Bushi, or “The Song of the Coal Miners,” is a regional dance from Kyushu that recalls the miners at the now-shuttered Miike Mine. Movements in this dance mime digging, cart pushing, lantern hanging, and gazing at the moon. As in Tokyo Ondo, the dance moves in a circle as the participants gesture.

With all the Obon festivities throughout Los Angeles in the summer, you’ll definitely want to learn Bon Odori at Fusion Fridays! And if that’s not your style, the evening also features Pacific Island dance performances, food trucks, art activities, and a cash bar in our courtyard. Tickets are available in advance on Eventbrite or at the door. ~CM

Children’s Day in Japan

May 2, 2013
Koinobori (carp windsock)

Source: Raneko on Flickr.

Children’s Day in Japan is celebrated every year on May 5. Previously known as Tango no Sekku and celebrating male children (the celebration for girls was May 3, called Hinamatsuri), the holiday was changed to celebrate all children and renamed Komodo no Hi in 1948, though the traditions associated with the former Boy’s Day remain. Before Japan switched to the Gregorian calendar that same year, Tango no Sekku was celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, usually right around the summer solstice. This lunar date is also celebrated in other Asian cultures, notably Dragon Boat Festival (duanwu) in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the Tet Festival in Vietnam and the Dano Festival in Korea, but with very different origins and customs. The fifth lunar month is also traditionally celebrated as a month of purification, and this holiday adds to that spirit as families wish for their children to grow up strong and successful.

Carp Painting

Carp, Japan, Meiji period (1868-1912 AD), Ink on silk, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Donald F. Lomas, 1982.145.1

One of the most common sights on Children’s Day is rooted in its origins as Boy’s Day: the koinobori, or carp windsock, as seen at top. Families will display one for each family member: black for the father, red for the mother, and others (usually green or blue) for each child. The carp has long been a symbol for strength and fortitude– the fish is so strong and powerful that it swims upstream. Traditionally, families hoped for the same qualities in their sons. The carp windsocks blowing in the wind are meant to recall them swimming strongly through the waters. The symbol of the carp is also often seen in classical Japanese painting, as seen in this Meiji-era work from the Pacific Asia Museum collection.

Another common symbol of strength is the Kintaro figure, who we’ve written about before. Kintaro embodies both boyish youth and enormous strength, and has popularly been represented wrestling with or riding on a giant carp.

Gajin Fujita, Golden Boy after Kunyoshi

Gajin Fujita (b.1972), Golden Boy After Kuniyoshi 2011, Gold leaf, platinum leaf, and silver leaf with spray paint and paint markers on wood panel, 24 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm.), Collection of Jim Kenyon, Image courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA, © Gajin Fujita

Here at Pacific Asia Museum, we like to celebrate children too! On Sunday, May 12 from 12-4 p.m., we’re holding a Free Family Festival inspired by the exhibition The Garden in Asia. This Mother’s Day afternoon of crafts, performances and more is a great (free!) way to spend time with the family. You’ll even have a chance to make a koinobori for yourself! See the full schedule of events here. ~CM