December 9, 2018 – June 23, 2019
The first comprehensive survey of Sri Lankan art organized by an American museum, The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka presents some 240 works addressing nearly two millennia of Sri Lankan history. The image of a bejeweled isle, first invoked in Greco-Roman accounts of Sri Lanka’s precious gems, inspired numerous literary descriptions of the island’s wealth and tropical beauty. The Jeweled Isle includes precious decorative objects fashioned from gold, silver, and ivory, and 19th-century photographs documenting Sri Lanka’s extraordinary monuments, scenery, and flora. Several artworks convey the importance of sacred sites and relics in Sri Lankan Buddhist practice, while rare images of Hindu gods attest to the long and constant interaction between Sri Lanka and South India. Exquisite ivories, textiles, and furnishings further reflect nearly four centuries of European colonial presence in Sri Lanka and the dynamic interaction between local and foreign visual traditions. Featuring LACMA’s rarely displayed collection of Sri Lankan art—one of the finest and most extensive in the U.S.—the exhibition presents a timely exploration and celebration of a geographically complex, ethnically diverse, and multicultural South Asian hub.
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