Asian Art Museum of San Francisco Unearths Stories of Life and the Afterlife from China’s Han Dynasty in New Exhibition

San Francisco, CA — Like the Roman Empire, China’s Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) forged one of the most powerful, advanced civilizations of the ancient world, and its elite had it all: unbridled luxury, technical innovations and courtly romance. On Feb. 17, 2017 the Asian Art Museum unveils Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China’s Han Dynasty, an original exhibition of more than 100 dazzling works recently unearthed from the coastal heartland of classical Chinese culture.

Never before seen in the United States, these outstandingly crafted royal burial goods survived over 2,000 years underground. Together, they reveal how the early Han courts sought to glorify their statures in this life and in the next one: by creating delicate jade body suits sewn with gold threads, exquisitely decorated coffins, ingenious “smokeless” lamps, silver and bronze banquet utensils and ritual bell sets that still ring.

“In addition to luxuries, royals surrounded themselves with domestic wares that surprise us with their intimate portrait of private life during the Han dynasty,” says the museum’s newly appointed curator for Chinese art, Fan Zhang. “We have everything from a large silver basin for taking baths, to a working stone latrine with an armrest, to a boldly designed ceramic urinal — we even have two hollow bronze phalluses that could be used.”

Tomb Treasures exposes the lifestyles and private pleasures of the Han nobility. Coming four years after the wildly popular Terracotta Warriors exhibition at the Asian Art Museum, Tomb Treasures features even newer finds from Jiangsu province, near present-day Shanghai, telling a rich story of early China through these rare artworks and artifacts. The exhibition will be organized into three thematic areas:

  • Everlasting happiness without end (長樂未央): Luxurious life and palatial entertainment. Learn more about daily life, meals, and pastimes of the Han elites and experience the music and dance of the court.
  • Eternal life without limit (長生無極): Worship of jade and search for immortality. Enter a tomb-like atmosphere to explore ancient ideas about the afterlife.
  • Enduring remembrance without fail (長毋相忘): Private life and intimacy at the court. Uncover long-lost love affairs and explore secrets from the innermost chambers of men and women fascinated by pleasure.

“This exhibition underscores how connected we really are to the past, that we share the same passions across time and culture,” says museum director and exhibition co-curator Jay Xu. “These tomb treasures show how the Han people’s ambitions relate to our own pursuit of comfort and security today. The search for longevity, the craving for immortality, the yearning for a joyful life and a satisfying afterlife — is it the sweetness of this world that inspires our hopes for the next?” 

A public Opening Party on February 16, themed “In the Afterlife” will kick off Tomb Treasures with music, live performances and dancing. This evening party will also inaugurate the museum’s popular 2017 Thursday Night Programs season, which takes place from mid-February to late-September.

Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China’s Han Dynasty is organized by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and the Nanjing Museum. Presentation is made possible with the generous support of The Bernard Osher Foundation, The Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Fund for Excellence in Exhibitions and Presentations, Warren Felson and Lucy Sun, Angela and Gwong-Yih Lee, Fred Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation, in memory of Ben and A. Jess Shenson, Hok Pui Leung and Sally Yu Leung, and Sampson C. and Faye Shen Fund. 

The Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is one of San Francisco’s premier arts institutions and home to a world-renowned collection of more than 18,000 Asian art treasures from throughout Asia spanning 6,000 years of history. Through rich art experiences, centered on historic and contemporary artworks, the Asian Art Museum unlocks the past for visitors, bringing it to life while serving as a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking.

Information: 415.581.3500 or www.asianart.org. Never miss a moment: @asianartmuseum.

 

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Top Specialists on Mayan Spirituality To Lead Sacred Earth Journey’s Maya Pyramids Tour

Great Plaza, Tikal, El Petén, Guatemala
Great Plaza, Tikal, El Petén, Guatemala

VANCOUVER, BC – Spiritual ceremonies hearkening to ancient times take center stage when a small group of inquisitive travelers embark on a Jan. 28-Feb. 5, 2017 tour with Sacred Earth Journeys to explore the culture and archaeology surrounding Maya sacred temples in Mexico and Guatemala.

Sacred Earth Journeys , a leader in spiritual travel since 2003, has engaged two of the world’s top specialists to guide its Maya Temples of Transformation tour. The nine-day, eight-night journey is priced at $3,580 per person, double occupancy.

Freddy Silva is a best-selling author, researcher of ancient knowledge systems, alternative history and earth mysteries, and one of the world’s leading metaphysical speakers. His book, The Lost Art of Resurrection: Initiation, Secret Chambers and the Quest for the Otherworld, reveals how ancient mystery schools taught secrets about life and death.

Co-leader Miguel Angel Vergara is a master of Maya wisdom. He studied for 17 years with a Mayan elder and wisdom keeper. He now teaches traditions including shamanism, philosophy and healing. The author of The Sacred Knowledge of the Maya, he enjoys helping others experience the powerful energy of Mayan sites.

The program starts in the Mexican State of Chiapas near Palenque with a cleansing ceremony and meditation in a cave hidden behind a waterfall. At the Palenque complex the group can experience a “Breath of Life” ritual, symbolizing a living resurrection. Containing some of the finest examples of Maya architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings in the world, the ancient city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Another tour highlight is an Usumacinta River boat journey along the Guatemalan border with a breakfast stop in the pristine jungle. The destination is a sacred site most outsiders rarely see, Yaxchilan, where initiates once performed secret rites believed to enable time and space travel.

In Guatemala, the group will explore Tikal, a vast complex that features the tallest of all Mayan pyramids, said to allow attunement with the stars. One of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya, it was declared a National Monument in 1931 and then a National Park in 1955 becoming one of Guatemala’s first formally protected areas. In 1979 it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In addition to exploring ancient sites, there will also be delicious meals in ethnic restaurants, stops for shopping in colourful handicraft markets, and personal free time for journaling or reflection. See: www.sacredearthjourneys.ca/current-tours/maya-temples-of-transformation-with-freddy-silva-and-miguel-angel-vergara-2017.

“This is an inner journey as well as an exciting cultural exploration,” said Helen Tomei, President of Sacred Earth Journeys. “It’s a rare opportunity for modern pilgrims to discover how ancient Mayan wisdom can help them connect more deeply with themselves, their planet, and the cosmos.”

For more information, program availability and reservations please visit www.sacredearthjourneys.ca, email: info@sacredearthjourneys.ca, or call toll-free: 877-874-7922 (Local number: 604-874-7922).

 

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Western River Expeditions’ New 9-Day Multi-Sport Costa Rica Adventure Allows for Customization

Western’s nine-day/eight-night Costa Rica Vacation Package includes conquering the rapids of the legendary Pacuare River, rated one of the most beautiful in the world.
Western’s nine-day/eight-night Costa Rica Vacation Package includes conquering the rapids of the legendary Pacuare River, rated one of the most beautiful in the world.

SALT LAKE CITY – Veteran outfitter Western River Expeditions is inviting travelers to tweak the company’s recently launched 9-day multi-sport Costa Rica adventure to create their own personalized experience. This trip is offered year-round with ultimate flexibility in scheduling for a minimum of two participants who choose their own date of trip departure based on availability. The per person (double) rate is from $3,295 (minimum age 12). See: www.westernriver.com/costa-rica-vacation-package.

For starters, guests may choose to shorten or lengthen their core trip with final price adjusted accordingly. They can add activities and regions of specific interest to them or skip some parts of the suggested itinerary. For example, if they’re escaping a stateside winter, they may want to add beach time or sport fishing and surf lessons while on the Pacific Coast in Manuel Antonio National Park that like most of Costa Rica enjoys a warm and dry climate in the winter months. Or while rafting the Pacuare River they may want to visit to the Cabecar Indian village enroute for an immersion into native culture. Other add-on options might include biking and hiking around Arenal Volcano or a trip to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast to get up close and personal with Green, leatherback, and Hawksbill sea turtles that nest on the beaches here.

Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) for over 50 years has helped people overcome fears when it comes to rafting on rivers. It introduced its Costa Rica program earlier in 2016 to deliver the most highly curated experience possible and at the same time to help alleviate the stress and anxiety of planning foreign travel.

Why Costa Rica?

“Costa Rica is a natural, with the added excitement of volcanoes, hot springs and beaches,” said Brandon Lake, CMO of Western River Expeditions. “This customizable itinerary is perfect for first-time visitors or anyone new to foreign travel. We offer as much ‘hand holding’ as needed at the front end of the trip while adopting a more on-your-own approach as participants become more comfortable with their surroundings.”

Western’s nine-day/eight-night Costa Rica Vacation Package includes conquering the rapids of the legendary Pacuare River, rated one of the most beautiful in the world. This river slices from Costa Rica’s interior to the Caribbean, enroute creating some of Costa Rica’s most exciting rapids flanked by pristine rainforest. Guests stay for two nights at Pacuare Lodge, rated one of the top jungle eco lodges anywhere. An off-river day explores waterfalls and a zip line adventure above a tropical rainforest canopy. The rafting continues downriver to the takeout where a minibus awaits for the trip to Arenal Volcano and a buffet dinner on the open air terrace at Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort.

Between time spent splashing in thermally heated pools at the base of the towering volcano, Arenal participants enjoy a rainforest adventure focused on monkeys, iguanas, sloths and birds from the perspective of 15 hanging suspension bridges over which guests experience the forest from the ground (like a Jaguar), from the middle (like a Monkey) and from the treetops (like an Eagle). Later comes a scenic drive that ends at Manuel Antonio, a village on the Pacific Ocean.

Spread over a forested ridge overlooking the Pacific with unforgettable coastal views, the area’s postcard-perfect beaches include Playa Manuel Antonio, a crescent of ivory sand between the rainforest and calm waters, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Nearby Playa Espadilla is a long beach lined with coconut palms and Indian almond trees. While here guests enjoy a 2.5-hour nature walk and sunning on the beach in Manuel Antonio National Park, named one of the world’s most beautiful national parks by Forbes.

The rate includes eight nights and breakfasts at four stellar properties; three lunches and three dinners; transfers to and from San Jose airport, hotels and activity sites; rafting; zip lining; soaking in the thermal waterfalls and pools of T Tabacón; guided walks and a tour of Manuel Antonio National Park to see sloths and numerous species of monkeys.

For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2017 catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669), or visit the newly enhanced website at www.westernriver.com.

 

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President Barack Obama Pens Article for Lonely Planet on Importance of Travel

President Obama discusses the value of international travel, especially to young people in an exclusive article for LonelyPlanet.com.
President Obama discusses the value of international travel, especially to young people in an exclusive article for LonelyPlanet.com.

(NOV 20, 2016) –– President Barack Obama shared his thoughts on the important role travel plays and his hopes for the future of the planet with Lonely Planet’s travelers on lonelyplanet.com, during his final foreign trip as President.

President Obama offered to share his thoughts with Lonely Planet on how interacting with people and cultures from different countries is essential for the world’s future. In an exclusive article written, he describes how travel is fundamental to progress and essential to overcome challenges across borders.

The President traveled extensively during his eight years in office, becoming the first sitting US president to visit Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Laos and Myanmar. He also paid homage at Hiroshima, Japan, and visited Vietnam. Recognizing the value of travel in cultivating face-to-face interactions, he also lifted the more than 50-year ban on US travel to Cuba.

Since the publication of its first guidebook in 1973, Lonely Planet has always believed responsible travel can be a force for good, and continues to today as the world travels with Lonely Planet content on mobile, web and in print. It’s a belief shared by President Barack Obama, detailed in his exclusive article on lonelyplanet.com, highlighting how the optimistic, tolerant and engaged young people he has met around the world give him hope for the future.

obama-lonelyplanet2

A key takeaway from his extensive travels as President is the importance of engaging beyond governments, and connecting with young people – who will determine the future of the planet – in a meaningful way. This is particularly crucial for the future of the developing world, where 90 percent of the global population under 30 lives.

“It is the world’s young people who will determine whether their voices direct the change that is sweeping our world towards greater justice, opportunity, tolerance, and mutual respect,” President Obama stated.

President Obama shared the plans he has put in place to support the empowerment of young global citizens prior to hosting a town hall meeting with young people in Peru.

For more information and to read President Barack Obama’s first person article, visit lonelyplanet.com.

Obama Administration Paves Path for Students, Millennials to Travel

Throughout his presidency, Obama has appreciated the importance of travel to bring people together, forge better understanding. Travelers become ambassadors for America and also bring back to the US appreciation for other cultures and people. The opportunity to travel abroad is particularly important for young people, and the Obama Administration has also facilitated opportunities for students and millennials to study, volunteer, work and travel abroad.

In December 2014, the National Security Council hosted a summit with 100 of the most influential travel bloggers and digital media outlets to highlight U.S. Government initiatives and discuss strategies for encouraging American students to study, volunteer, and work abroad.  The summit emphasized that international education and exposure are increasingly essential for the competitiveness of American companies and the American workforce, yet fewer than ten percent of students in the United States choose to study abroad.

By transforming interest in travel into study, volunteer, and work opportunities, the Administration sought to significantly increase the number and diversity of young people participating in educational, cultural, and professional experiences internationally.

Throughout Obama’s presidency, his administration has focused on broadening the scope of the U.S. government’s engagement with citizens abroad. Efforts included the President’s signature Young African Leaders Initiative, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, 100,000 Strong in the Americas, and a project connecting Americans to youth in the Middle East, the J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative.

Studying abroad is a critical component to deepening and broadening relationships with citizens overseas. Today, fewer than 10% of students take part in study abroad. In 2012 to 2013, the total number of U.S. students taking part in study abroad was under 300,000 — only 1.5 percent of the almost 20 million American students enrolled in U.S. higher education programs.

To combat these trends, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs created the U.S. Study Abroad Office. This office  manages the Department’s study abroad scholarships and capacity building programs for American students and institutions, as well as plays a leading role in promoting the benefits of study abroad to U.S. students and parents, faculty, and education administrators. It provides resources that can help interested U.S. students navigate a complex process to study or intern abroad by offering scholarships, recommendations, and guidelines.

The summit also featured remarks, presentations, and panels of experts on current efforts around studying, volunteering, and working abroad. Experts from National Geographic, iHeartMedia, Institute for International Education, George Mason University, Millennial Trains Project, Minerva Project, Travel Channel, and Yahoo Travel shared their ideas for increasing students’ international interest.

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