In 1984 Dallas Arts District was created and incorporated. Their mission is to encourage cultural exploration and education. It is one of the finest art districts in the world with its 19 block, 68 acre neighborhood and is the largest of its kind in the United States.
The museums are all within comfortable walking distance from each other for your convenience. For your enjoyment you will find shady gardens and parks providing a welcome retreat from the hot Texas sun. There are nine museums on the District Art Tour; the first is the Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art.
The Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art is a museum which was opened in 1998 by a real estate developer Trammell Crow and Margaret, his wife. It is often referred to as the “Hidden Treasure of the Arts District” because it is marked by a Seated Daoist Deity statue (also known as the Judge of Water)from the 17th century on top of a stepped water fountain at its entrance instead of a large sign designating its presence. Its purpose is to help you transition to a place of peace and tranquility as you leave the busy Dallas streets and venture into the museum where time stands still.
The museum is divided into three galleries; it features 500 objects from China, India, Japan and Southeastern Asia. The pieces span history dating back from 3500 B.C. to the early 20th century. What started as a unique collection from the Crow's travels became an obsession. Their private collection boasts over 7,000 pieces. The first floor holds the artifacts from Japan including Japanese screens, scrolls, ceramics and bronze statues. It includes a 19th century piece a Japanese Rock Crystal Sphere which is the second largest in the world. It is said that a mythological "Dragon King of the Sea" used it because it had the power to control the tides.
The second gallery holds Chinese artifacts including jade bowls, intricately carved ornaments and decorative items, as well as, sculptures from the Ching dynasty encompassing the mid-15th century to the 19th century. A nearly 5,500 year old burial cylinder is the oldest object in the exhibit. It was believed to be the passageway to get to the afterlife from one's earthly burial place.
The Silk Road and the High Seas exhibit showcase Chinese ceramic pieces that were made with the intention to be traded in exchange for Jade. The exhibit features over 60 items. The earliest evidence of trade with the west was over 2,000 years ago. It began with what Chinese historians called the Jade road which the traders used to meet at the Oasis of Khotan in Central Asia; they would trade their ceramics for their favorite jewel, Jade. They believed Jade had special significance because they found excellence of all qualities in the gem that they themselves strive for and admired. These include benevolence, intelligence, righteousness, humility, loyalty, music, good faith, heaven, earth, virtue and the path of truth and duty.
The Silk Road was a fragile road through dessert and mountainous terrain to arrive at the shipping lanes where they exported their goods to the Mediterranean, South and Central Asia, Japan and the new world. Later the trade changed and consisted primarily of tea, silk and inexpensive ceramics. Large pieces of ceramics were not available for common trade because of production problems and are very rare. The pattern mille-fleur was very popular both in the west and in China because it depicts a Chinese proverb, “May one hundred flowers bloom,” foretelling prosperity.
The Noble Change: Tantric Art of the High Himalaya exhibit can be accessed using the sky bridge. It leads to the Indian exhibit featuring a stone façade from an 18th century home as well as Hindu sculptures and textiles. The Himalayan art exhibited were made with the intention of facilitating the practice of Vajrayana Buddhism which means the indestructible path.
This exhibit is a journey into the Tantric practice using both sound and visualization to bring the outside in and the inside out dissolving the boundaries of the body. It uses breath control, mantras and body positions along with extensive ritual performances in order to purify space by summoning and dispelling energies. The art depicts the instructions for practice by the holder of knowledge. It is art made with the purpose to support Tantric practices. It is amazing to see the Buddhist monks develop a mantra out of colored sand right before your eyes as the others play instruments and chant mantras. The intricate detail they can achieve is unbelievable.
The Qualities of Jade exhibit is available due to the partnership with the Confucius Institute and displays some carved jade items that match each of Confucius quality statements in his text the Book of Rites. It states that jade is an ideal, much more than just a stone and lists sensual qualities he saw in the jewel portraying the qualities of the perfected human character. It is an interesting collection one would not want to miss.
Things you should know when you visit the Dallas Art District.
When you visit make sure you wear comfortable clothes and comfortable shoes because it is a rather large area and you will do a large amount of walking in the Texas heat between sites. In the buildings the air may be cooler but you still walk a lot there as well. The Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art building should be marked with a sign, in my opinion, because the fountain entrance could have just as easily been part of a garden area that are incorporated throughout the Dallas Art District and could be easily missed. They call it the “Hidden Jewel” knowing it can be missed; I would think they would want to show off their jewel and anyone would be the disappointed to have missed it.
India: A History
Jade: With over 600 photographs of jades from every continent