Row 10

Tibet, Persia

The Tibetan material on show in this row consists of metalwork purchased from the city of Lhasa in 1904. In particular the prayer wheel inset with turquoise is a fine example of the subtlety of difference between Tibetan, Indian and Chinese design. Lamaism is the form of Buddhist belief, which is practised in Tibet. Organised under two priests known as Lamas, their remit is political as well as religious. The most important Lama is known as the Dalai Lama.

The Persian Collection of the Museum was formed as part of a concerted effort to display and interpret applied arts of the Indian subcontinent and traditionally has been acquired in association with material from India, Burma and Pakistan. When the Science and Art Museum, Dublin (now the National Museum of Ireland) was established in 1877, links with the South Kensington Museum, London (now the Victoria & Albert) dictated that Asian art and design would be purchased. This policy was in order to facilitate access to international design by contemporary Irish craftspeople. Objects from Iran (Persia) on show include woodcarving (in mostly pear- and sandalwood) illustrating the ‘à jour’ technique of piercing, miniature paintings of previous Shahs and enamels, ivories, metalwork and seals from the 1878 -1879 Caspar Purdon Clarke purchase. Purdon Clarke was born in Dublin in 1846. From architectural designer and official commercial agent of the British Indian section of the Paris International Exhibition, 1878, he would eventually become director of the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1896, followed by the directorship of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, by 1905.

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