OUR SENSES: AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE

The traditional Chinese five-element system organizes the entire universe. Everything you can sense can be sorted in relation to its governing element. Colors, sounds, smells, tastes, animals, seasons and directions are all identified with one of five elements, which are organized in relation to each other. In Chinese five-element theory, everything is composed of five basic elements: Earth, Fire, Metal, Water, and Wood. Each section of the case shows objects linked to a given element.
 
MODEL, MAN AND BULLOCK PLOWING
ASIAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
 
Catalog No: 70.2/ 824
Culture: CHINESE
Country: CHINA
Material: WOOD, PIGMENT, THREAD, METAL
Dimensions: L:23.6 W:4.9 H:8.8 (in CM)
Acquisition Year: 1950 [GIFT]
Donor: MESTRES, RICARDO A., MR. & MRS.
Keywords: MODEL

Exhibition Label: [EARTH ELEMENT] Man and bull plowing. People, oxen and the plowing season between summer and autumn are all tied to the element earth, worked through the common labor of human farmer and domesticated beast.

This object was also exhibited at:
• THE HORSE (AMNH, NEW YORK, NY, May 2008 - January 2009)
 
MODEL, WATERMELONS (3)
ASIAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
 
Catalog No: 70 / 2688 ABD
Culture: CHINESE
Country: CHINA
Material: CLAY, PIGMENT
Dimensions: WATERMELON) D:5.6 H:5.5 (in CM)
Acquisition Year: 1901 [EXPEDITION]
Donor: LAUFER, BERTHOLD
Keywords: MODEL

Exhibition Label: [EARTH ELEMENT] Watermelons. These miniature clay fruits were purchased in a Chinese New Year market around 1900. The mouth, sweet tastes and fragrant odors are all linked to the element earth, which generates all vegetation.
 
SHADOW PUPPET, GOD OF THUNDER
ASIAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
 
Catalog No: 70 /10089
Culture: CHINESE
Country: CHINA
Material: HIDE, PIGMENT
Dimensions: L:35.5 W:28 H:.2 (in CM)
Acquisition Year: 1903 [EXPEDITION]
Donor: LAUFER, BERTHOLD
Keywords: SHADOW PUPPET
Category: RECREATIONAL ARTIFACTS

Exhibition Label: [EARTH ELEMENT] Thunder god shadow puppet. This shadow puppet dates to at least 1903 and depicts a thunder god. Thunder is associated with the element earth.
 
BOWL, CARVED LACQUER
ASIAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
 
Catalog No: 70.0/ 1938
Culture: CHINESE
Country: CHINA
Material: WOOD, LACQUER (RED, BLACK)
Dimensions: L:25 W:18.5 H:9 (in CM)
Acquisition Year: 1920 [PURCHASE]
Donor: TILLSON
Keywords: BOWL
Category: CONTAINERS

Exhibition Label: [FIRE ELEMENT] Carved lacquer bowl. The color red is associated with joy and happiness in the Chinese five-element system. The "double happiness" character on the bowl represents marriage.
 
SET OF SCALES (WEIGHTS?) (15 PIECES)
ASIAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
 
Catalog No: 70 / 1464 D-R
Culture: CHINESE
Country: CHINA
Material: METAL
Dimensions: LARGEST) D:6.1 H:4.3 SMALLEST) D:1.3 H:.6 (in CM)
Acquisition Year: 1900 [GIFT]
Donor: MISSIONARY EXHIBIT
Keywords: SCALE WEIGHT
Category: EQUIPMENT

Exhibition Label: [FIRE ELEMENT] Weights. Each element is linked to a different mechanical instrument. Weights and measures like these are associated with fire, while compasses are tied to wood, and balances to water.
 
VESSEL WITH LID, DUCK SHAPED, ENGRAVED
ASIAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
 
Catalog No: 70 /13959 AB
Culture: CHINESE
Country: CHINA
Material: METAL (PEWTER, COPPER), GLASS ?
Dimensions: A) L:30.1 W:14.2 H:7.8 B) L:31.5 W:14.2 H:17 (in CM)
Acquisition Year: 1904 [EXPEDITION]
Donor: LAUFER, BERTHOLD
Keywords: VESSEL, VESSEL COVER
Category: CONTAINERS

Exhibition Label: [FIRE ELEMENT] Pewter duck vessel. Both domesticated fowl such as ducks, and the category of feathered animals in general, are associated with the element Fire, implying heat, brightness and ascending forces.
 
CARVING, CROUCHING DOG
ASIAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
 
Catalog No: 70.3/ 2399
Country: CHINA
Material: STONE (MOTTLED GREEN JADE)
Dimensions: L:7.5 W:6 (in CM)
Acquisition Year: 1961 [TRANSFER]
Donor: DRUMMOND, I.W., DR.
Keywords: CARVING

Exhibition Label: [METAL ELEMENT] Carved jade dog. Hair-covered animals such as dogs are associated with the element metal, which symbolizes melting and hardening in a new form.
 
CARVING, CROUCHING PIG
ASIAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
 
Catalog No: 70.3/ 3481
Country: CHINA
Material: JADE (GREY, BLACK)
Dimensions: L:10.5 W:2.5 H:3.3 (in CM)
Acquisition Year: 1961 [TRANSFER]
Donor: DRUMMOND, I.W., DR.
Keywords: CARVING

Exhibition Label: [WATER ELEMENT] Jade pig paperweight. This jade paperweight was used to secure the delicate paper used in Chinese painting and calligraphy. The domestic pig, the year of the boar and its associated constellation are all linked to the element water.
 
POTTERY WATER BOTTLE, SHELL-SHAPED, GLAZ
ASIAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
 
Catalog No: 70 /14547
Culture: CHINESE
Country: CHINA
Material: CLAY, GLAZE (GREEN, YELLOW, BROWN)
Dimensions: L:6.5 W:4.6 H:5 (in CM)
Acquisition Year: 1904 [EXPEDITION]
Donor: LAUFER, BERTHOLD
Keywords: WATER BOTTLE, POTTERY
Category: CONTAINERS

Exhibition Label: [WATER ELEMENT] Shell-covered animals are linked to the element water. This shell-shaped ceramic water bottle was used to dip brushes.
 
RAIN SHOES (PAIR), WOODEN
ASIAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
 
Catalog No: 70.0/ 5628 AB
Culture: CHINESE
Locale: PEKIN
Country: CHINA
Material: WOOD
Dimensions: A) L:27 W:9 H:17 B) L:27 W:9 H:15.5 (in CM)
Acquisition Year: 1932 [GIFT]
Donor: TEASDALE, WILLIAM C.
Keywords: RAIN SHOE
Category: COSTUME

Exhibition Label: [WATER ELEMENT] Wooden rain shoes. These wooden rain shoes are tied to the season winter, and to rainy weather, through the element water, which symbolizes fluidity.
 
EYE AMULET
ASIAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
 
Catalog No: 70 /11984 A
Culture: CHINESE
Country: CHINA
Material: CLOTH (COTTON), STRING, PIGMENT (PAINT)
Dimensions: L:20 W:9 H:1 (in CM)
Subject: PAIR OF EYES
Acquisition Year: 1904 [EXPEDITION]
Donor: LAUFER, BERTHOLD
Keywords: AMULET

Exhibition Label: [WOOD ELEMENT] Eye amulets. The sense organ associated with the element wood is the eye. These eye amulets were probably temple offerings used as a prayer for good vision.
 
SHADOW PUPPET, MOUNTAIN GOAT
ASIAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
 
Catalog No: 70 /10344
Culture: CHINESE
Country: CHINA
Material: HIDE, PIGMENT
Dimensions: L:9 W:7.8 (in CM)
Acquisition Year: 1903 [EXPEDITION]
Donor: LAUFER, BERTHOLD
Keywords: SHADOW PUPPET
Category: RECREATIONAL ARTIFACTS

Exhibition Label: [WOOD ELEMENT] Mountain goat shadow puppet. This shadow puppet represents a goat, the domestic animal associated with the element wood. Wood's featured scent is a "goatish" odor.
 
WATER-DISH, FORM OF FISH
ASIAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
 
Catalog No: 70 / 4284
Culture: KOREAN
Country: KOREA
Material: POTTERY, GLAZE
Dimensions: L:7.7 W:6.8 H:2 (in CM)
Acquisition Year: 1901 [PURCHASE]
Donor: VINTON, C. C., DR.
Keywords: WATER DISH
Categories: CONTAINERS, EQUIPMENT

Exhibition Label: [WOOD ELEMENT] Fish-shaped water vessel. This Korean ceramic vessel was used to mix ink. The five-element system, used in Korea as well as China, links all animals with scales to the element wood, which can be worked into new forms.
 
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