Who hasn’t dreamed of leaving our western world and vagabond in between the various cultures that are encompassed in our World? Nowadays, with access to cheaper flights or digital devices, it is possible and you do not have to take a sixteen hours flight to experience exoticism. In our beloved Paris, right in the center of the capital of culture and art, stands one of the best museum in the worldnwhich is the Musée du Quai Branly. This museum is entirely dedicated to the arts and cultures of each of our four continents. Oceania, the Americas, Africa and Asia. Inaugurated in 2006 by the french president Jaques Chirac, this institution hosts no more than 300 000 pieces of traditional art from these beautiful lands that used to be seen a unattainable dream. The collections are wonderfully laid out as a path going through the different parts of the world.
The African collection is composed of wooden statues representing divinities or royal figures as well as ritual masks. These are a nice symbol of the rich tribal and mystical culture Africa offers. There is also a cloth section but these are more focus upon in the part of the museum dedicated to the Northern part of Africa.
The large continent of America is divided in three collections. North America is made of what we commonly call the native American culture. In central America stone statues of Gods and potteries were penetrating its culture. In South America really colorful collections composed of traditional jewels as well as masks and statues were characterizing the culture of the natives. One can distinguish between two main cultural flows in South America: The Mayas and the Incas. Both highly cultural civilizations, were putting high significance on golden objects and many different deities. Machu Picchu is one of the most famous examples of inheritance of the Inca culture, which is located in the Ands of today’s Peru. Nowadays we can only admire the remains of their culture in form of ruins or legacies as masks and some objects. The culture of the Maya and the Inca is a very complex and cultivated one; thus definitely worth a deeper insight, which can be gained amongst others at the museum. Myths, for example about the end of the world find its origin in the calendar of the Maya, which remain until today a mystery.
The Asian collection focuses on India and Indonesia. These two collections are mainly objects from the everyday life, from decoration items to utensils as porcelain and vases. It is important to keep in mind that China was a leading porcelain manufacturer and known for its high quality and breath-taking motives. Porcelain played a high value in society and was only accessible to the wealthy class. Moreover it is incredible that the white of the porcelain became a beauty ideal for women of its time. Typical white facial make up of women, known as Geishas, were also oriented in the pure beauty of the pureness of the white color, which should underline the beauty of the woman.
Finally there is also a collection dedicated to the Oceanic region, in which the people from the islands were highly focused on the beauty of the natural materials from the sea. In this part of the museum you can see the magnificent hand-made jewels constituted of shells.
When in Paris, have a look at the Musée du Quai Branly, it is definitely worth a visit.
or have a look at their online collections:
Antoine & Julia.