In our second collaboration with the Museum of African and Asian Arts in Vichy, The Creative Museum was invited to participate in the exhibition, PLUMES. Five civilizations were featured to show how their art forms reflected each culture’s specific reverence for one emblematic bird. Through their freedom of flight, birds connected gods and man and became messengers to the invisible world. They embodied ancestors, deities, or personified an emblem.
Six birds were chosen. Among them was the kingfisher. Small birds, their luminous blue feathers were so prized by the Chinese during the Qing Dynasty, they were hunted to the point of extinction.
The technique of applying kingfisher feathers to the jewelry of aristocratic Manchu women required the utmost dexterity. Once the basic design had been made in silver, gold, brass, or copper, each part was edged with a thin lip of metal. The sections of feathers, cut to exact size, were then applied to the specific space assigned.
In this example, the whole design of this bat is built up in flat one-dimensional layers, so that the different tones of blue stand out.
Chinese artists were also skilled at making their work more complex by articulating the different parts of the animal with a clever system of rivets. This lobster’s tail can move from side to side. Indeed, the lobster can move his whole body.
The liang-patou is a black satin wing-style headdress worn by aristocratic Manchu women, which increased in size according to their social status. Here is a group of ornaments designed to be fastened to the headdress. This butterfly seems to be gathering nectar from the tourmaline lotus heart. A tiny row of coral beads lends a finishing touch to this fine work of art.
To see how Indian culture treated the peacock, Amazonian tribes created art from parrot feathers, the Senufo people of the Ivory Coast adapted the hornbill, North American indigenous tribes worshiped the eagle, and the people of Papua New Guinea made art from cassowary feathers, you can travel around the world by viewing our full presentation in French or in English.
Link to presentation in French: http://www.creative-museum.com/content/plumes
Link to presentation in English: http://www.creative-museum.com/en/content/plumes
Link to Creative Museum: http://www.creative-museum.com