What's Happening in Asian Art...

Lark Mason Associates' Sale of Asian, Ancient and Ethnographic Works of Art

October 15, 2020

Pair of Chinese Cloisonne Vases, 18th Century
Height: each 11 3/4 inches

Lark Mason Associates' sale of Asian, Ancient and Ethnographic Works of Art is now live on the iGavelAuctions.com platform until October 28.

Among the wide-ranging selection offered, the most noteworthy are a group of 18th century Chinese cloisonné, mainly acquired by an American Colonel in occupied Tokyo, just after World War II, huanghuali furniture from an American collector and ancient bronzes and archaic jades originally bought by an American collector from noted galleries CT Loo, Christian R Holmes Collection, Sydney Moss, and at Sotheby’s from the 1960’s to 1990’s.

Highlights include a pair of Huanghuali horseshoe back armchairs (estimate $50,000-100,000) and a Huanghuali three drawer coffer table (estimate $30,000-50,000). A pair of 18th century cloisonné vases purchased from Philip Colleck in New York in 1976 are one example of the very attractive group of cloisonné (estimate $5,000-8,000).

 


Pair of Huanghuali Horseshoeback Armchairs
Height: 36 1/2 inches

Thomas Murray Arts: COMBS

October 13, 2020


Comb with triangular graphics. Solomon Islands. Wood, fiber, pitch, shell. 12.5 inches / 32 cm. 

Thomas Murray is holding a special online exhibition, "Combs from the Solomons to China".

The exhibition includes a sample of comb styles, ranging from the Solomon Islands off of east New Guinea, through the Indonesian archipelago west to Lampung, in the south of Sumatra, and up to the Paiwan people of Taiwan and completing the journey in China. Comb motifs include serpents, birds, boats, trees, ancestors, and geometric repeats that may represent ancestral genealogies. The custom of wearing a comb is one of the earliest and most widespread of all human endeavors, a truly universal cultural expression. 


Comb decorated with coins. Timor, Indonesia. Water buffalo horn, metal, "Young" Queen Victoria coins. 7.75 x 2.25 inches / 20 x 6 cm. 

Combs are an important aspect of headdress all over the world. As sculpture, they are signifiers of ethnicity, class, battle prowess, marriage status, and other social and religious cues. Great care is taken in their creation.
 
Visit the website www.tmurrayarts.com to view the show.

 


Comb with pigments. Lamping, Indonesia. Water buffalo horn, metal, pigment. 6.25 x 5.25 inches / 16 x 13 cm.

Nicholas Grindley: The Online Chinese Scholar's Object Show

October 5, 2020

Nicholas Grindley is proud to present their first online exhibition, featuring 16 scholar's objects, each carefully chosen to fulfil the needs of the Chinese scholar -- from brushes to brushpots, ink-cakes to inkstones, each objects served a purpose and would have commonly been found in a scholar's studio during the Qing dynasty.

Visit their website Nicholas Grindley to see the full exhibition. "The Online Chinese Scholar's Object Show" is on view until October 31st. 

Experience Songtsam Lodge Shangri-La (Sponsor Post)

September 14, 2020

Songtsam is Asia Week New York's 2020 Presenting Sponsor. Learn more about another one of their stunning properties below!

Songtsam’s first lodge opened its doors in 2001 and underwent a renovation in 2019. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Shangri-La, the lodge is located in Kna Village only a 2-minute walk to the Songzanlin Monastery. The lodge is a beautiful four-storey stone building housed in a traditional Tibetan dwelling within a self-sufficient farming village, where founder Pema Dorjee spent his childhood. Rooms excel in creating a true feeling of home, all of which are decorated in a Tibetan style and balanced with modern comforts. The inside of the property exhibits an impressive collection of hand-picked antique furniture, Tibetan Thangkas, and handicrafts, as well as traditional intricately woven carpets featured throughout the lodge.

Destinations & Activities
Shangri-La is the capital of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province, China with an altitude of 3,200 metres. It has been long viewed as a paradise on earth with its majestic landscapes, diverse cultures, and deep spirituality. Located in a wide valley Shangri-La is surrounded by mountain ranges on all four sides. It is the capital of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and the gateway to the ancient Tibetan kingdom. The region is characterised by snow-capped mountain peaks, pristine forests and lakes, as well as traditional Tibetan villages with white-walled and richly decorated buildings. There are many beautiful hiking routes to explore the mountains, lakes, and idyllic villages and pastures.

September 2020 Asia Week Gallery Exhibitions

September 11, 2020

To coincide with September Asia Week, several of our regular dealer participants are holding exhibitions showcasing traditional and contemporary examples of Asian painting, sculpture, ceramics, and more.  Most of our New York based dealers will be open by appointment only for in person exhibition viewings.  Here's our guide to the exhibitions on view.

 



HIGASHIDA Shigemasa 
東田茂正一(1955- )
Oribe Ceramic Box No. 2-5
織部陶箱, 2020
H7” x W13.3” x D6.7”, 18 x 34 x 17cm
Stoneware
With Signed Wood Box

Dai Ichi Arts, Ltd. is presenting "The Call of Nature - Oribe Ceramic by Higashida Shigemasa." Higashida Shigemasa 東田茂正 pursues the Oribe glaze tradition with a unique and dramatic flair. Turning to ceramics after a brief but successful career at a major stock firm, Higashida's work is characterized by a lush and vibrant glaze that pools and flows over invitingly textured clay. Here, brilliant turquoise blue lakes of glaze occupy the valleys and crevices of the lush green surface. The dynamic shape of the ox recalls mountainous landscapes with their undulating crests and valleys. This rough topography is countered by the serene stillness of the pooled blue glaze which offers a restful point of contemplation for the eye. The gallery is open by appointment only, and the exhibition is on view at 18 East 64th Street, #1F, from September 10- 26. For more information please contact Beatrice Chang at +1 917 435 9473 or email daiichiarts@yahoo.com.



Torii Kotondo (1900-1975)
Combing the Hair (Kamisuki), 1929
Japanese color woodblock print
46.8 x 29.6 cm
1st Edition

Egenolf Gallery Japanese Prints presents "Beauty & Style: Early 20th Century Japanese Prints" in our September online viewing room. Featured above is Torii Kotondo's "Combing the Hair (Kamisuki)" depicting a nude beauty applying a comb to her long tresses. The rounded contours of her body are given volume with soft pink and her outlines have been blindprinted with no pigment, in contrast with the baren-produced (baren-sujizuri) texture of the background. Due to the design's rarity and popularity there was a contemporary reprint created in the 2000s by a Japanese publisher, but it is considered to be an homage to this work. 



Sooyeon Hong
Equilibrium_acrobat #13, 2017
Acrylic on linen
39 3/8 x 31 1/2 in. (100 x 80 cm)

HK Art & Antiques presents Time of Peace: Works by Women Artists, with the focus on three noted female contemporary Korean painters: Su Kwak, Ouhi Cha and Sooyeon Hong.  Kwak and Cha have spent many years outside Korea and are currently based in the US and Germany respectively.  All three have had exhibitions both in Korea and the US.  Throughout the exhibition from September 17 – October 7, the gallery is open by appointment at 49 East 78th Street, #4A.  Highlights can be seen in our viewing room.



Sho Kishino
Seated, B21420, 2020
H14 1/4 x W13 x D8 in. (H36 x W33 x D20 cm.)
Cypress (hinoki)

Ippodo Gallery is showing "Samsara: Sculptures by Sho Kishino." This delicately carved sculpture, made from Japanese Cypress (hinoki), shows a seated figure seemingly weighted down in deep thought. Faint markings and shadows create the impression of furrowed brows and closed lips, and the figure's motionless hands are hidden within their robe. The wood and square composition create a sense of solidity, strength, and the physicality of meditation. The works are on view from September 10 – October 8 by appointment at their gallery at 32 East 67th Street, 3rd Floor, with highlights featured in Asia Week New York's September online exhibition.



KATSUKAWA SHUNSHO (1726 - 1792). Ichikawa Yaozo II as Hachioaru Aratora and Segawa Kikunojo III as Aigo no Waka. Color woodblock print: hosoban, 12 7/8 x 6 in. (32.7 x 15.2 cm.); 1774. Signed: Shunsho ga.
Published: Narazaki, Muneshige, et al. 1976. Shunsho
. Vol. 3, Ukiyo-e taikei (Encyclopedia of Ukiyo-e). Tokyo: Shueisha, pl. 26.

Sebastian Izzard LLC Asian Art is putting "A Selection of Fine Japanese Paintings, Prints, and Ceramics," on view in his gallery at 17 East 76th Street, 3rd Floor from September 14 – 25, in which fine examples in each of these media can be seen by appointment.  Several highlights are included in Asia Week New York's September online viewing room until October 4th, 2020.  One of these is a woodblock print by Katsukawa Shunshō (1726–1792), a striking depiction of Ichikawa Yaozō II as Hachiōmaru Aratora and Segawa Kikunojō III as Aigo no Waka.   Yaozo was one of the most famous Edo actors of his generation, and Kikunojo went on to become one of the most successful onnagata (female role players) of the later eighteenth century.  Among the ceramics, a dish with chrysanthemum design of the Edo period, Empō/Jōkyō eras (1673−87) of Hizen ware, Nabeshima type: porcelain with underglaze blue and colored enamel decoration, dates from the earliest period of porcelain manufacture at the Ōkawachi kilns, patronized exclusively by the Nabeshima family, and the bright hues of the chrysanthemum and the leaves are typical of early Nabeshima wares. 


Front: Wakao Kei (b. 1967). Sculptural open blossom-shaped vessel with blue celadon craquelure glazing that flares deep pink from the firing effects. 2019. Glazed stonware. 10 1/4 x 12 7/8 x 11 1/2 in. 

Joan B Mirviss LTD presents "Fathers and Sons," an exhibition exploring the unique nature of lineage and received tradition as illustrated through two sets of father-son ceramic artists: Suzuki Osamu and his son, Tetsu, and Wakao Toshisada and his son, Kei.  Suzuki Osamu, a Living National Treasure, is a master of white Shino ware; his son, Tetsu, specializes in green and blue-green copper Oribe glazes. Wakao Toshisada is an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Gifu prefecture.  His nezumi Shino functional work is decorated in the aesthetic of the Rinpa tradition. His son, Kei, experiments with bolder sculptural forms that verge on the abstract and are covered in a range of craquelure celadon glazes. The exhibition is on view from September 14 by appointment at the gallery at 39 East 78th Street, 4th Floor. Selected works are included in Asia Week New York's September viewing room.



An Unusual Kosometsuke Dish with the Eight Immortals. Late Ming Dynasty, early 17th century. Diameter: 11 3/4 in. (29.8 cm.). Height: 2 in. (5.1 cm.)

The selections in “Fantastics & Eccentrics at Kaikodo,” on view in Asia Week New York's September online viewing room reflect the diversity of this establishment’s holdings, which are culturally inclusive and cover media and disciplines across the board.  Stucco is not a forgiving material to handle but that did not deter Kaikodo from acquiring a massive and complexly detailed head of a bodhisattva, a rarity in the market today.  Further, it is natural that individuals whose lives and studies were shared by China and Japan should be attracted to a ceramic that also provides a link between those cultural giants. The underglaze-blue decorated kosometsuke porcelain dish in the exhibition is a remarkable product of that connection.



Yoshita Yukio
Large Bowl, 2016
porcelain with enamel and gold in the kinran-de style
10 1/8 x 20 1/4 x 18 1/2 in. (25.7 x 51.4 x 47 cm.)

Onishi Gallery presents "Contemporary Japanese Porcelain,” a unique exhibition celebrating the creative triumph of Eastern ceramic art. Japanese porcelain evokes a rich cultural heritage innovatively adapted to the present-day. Tradition meets innovation, porcelain artists presenting family legacies, meticulous techniques and refined aesthetics in accordance with contemporary creative design.   Nine artists are represented, many among them Living National Treasures including, Inoue Manji (b.1929) who attained that status for his hakuji, Japanese white porcelain ware, while Imaizumi Imaemon XIV is known for his Nabeshima porcelain decorated with Rinpa designs.  The show runs from September 8 – October 2 on the gallery website and is also open by appointment (521 West 26th St).



Jayashree Chakravarty
Surviving Energy, 2018
Oil, acrylic, cotton, leaf, jute on canvas
66 x 50 in.

Akar Prakar Art Gallery presents a solo exhibition of Jayashree Chakravarty. Jayashree Chakravarty (b. 1956) is one of India's foremost contemporary artists. She studied at the finest art institutions in India, first at Visva Bharati in the sprawling natural environs of Santiniketan, Kolkata, and then at the Faculty of Fine Arts at MS University, Baroda, where she was exposed to an urban sensibility. Inventing her own creative techniques, using organic material and varied kinds of papers, her installations in the form of paper scrolls remain unique in their conceptions and execution. The artist lives and works in Kolkata, India. The solo exhibition is on view in our online viewing room from September 17 - October 4. 


Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III, 1786-1865). Two Beauties with a Maid Carrying Lantern and Shamisen, ca. 1820. oban tate-e triptych. each sheet signed Gototei Kunisada ga, with publisher's seal Mi (Mikawaya Seiemon), the middle and right sheet includes censor's seal kiwame (approved). 15 1/2 x 35 in. (39.37 x 88.9 cm.)

Scholten Japanese Art presents "Composing Beauty," an exhibition exploring ways in which bijin (lit. 'beautiful person') are presented in ukiyo-e, focusing on the relationship with other 'composed' genres including poetry, music and dance. On view in Asia Week New York's September 2020 online viewing room. 



Altar with ancestor figure, adu nuwu / adu zatua
Nias, wood, 19th to early 20th century
24 in. (46 cm.)

“Art of Southeast Asia,” is a selection of several highlights Thomas Murray Arts is presenting in the Asia Week New York September viewing room.  The cultural origins and periods of the pieces are diverse and offer the opportunity to view rare and less often seen examples of Asian tribal art.  The most impressive piece is an altar with an ancestor figure carved of wood from Nias, Indonesia, from the 19th/early 20th century.  Ancestor altars of this type adorned the interior of the community clan house.  A superb Mask depicting Houshang Monpa or Sherdukpen people from Arunachal Pradesh or Bhutan made of wood with pigment, 19th century or earlier would have been worn in the AcheLhamo/Ajilhamu dance drama.



Onkosai, early 20th century. Handled Karamono Flower Bakset. Bamboo and rattan. Taisho era, 1910s-20s, Japan. 22 x 8 x 4 3/4 in. (56 x 20.2 x 12 cm.)

Thomsen Gallery's September exhibition, Japanese Bamboo Art, includes a wide variety of bamboo and rattan flower baskets from 1900 to 1970, as well as contemporary bamboo sculptures.  Of particular note is a hexagonal flower basket made of bamboo and rattan, by Sasaki Kogakusai, from the Showa era, 1960s; an earlier circa 1920s-1930s flower basket with a natural bamboo handle by Maeda Chikubosai is also a fine example.  Both are part of our online viewing room.



"Peafowl and Peonies", Maruyama Ozui (1766 - 1829), Edo period, 18-19th century. Ink, color, and gold on silk. Hanging scroll. H113.8 x W158.3 cm. 

Koichi Yanagi Oriental Fine Arts presents Kokon Biannual: Fall 2020.  The most striking of the works is a hanging scroll in ink, gold and color on silk of Peafowl and Peonies by the Edo period (18th/19th century) artist, Maruyama Ozui (1766-1829).  There is only one other known example of this subject by Ōzui, currently in the Sumitomo Collection in Japan.  A Shonzui ware, hexagonal dish with three feet from the Jingdezhen kilns, Jiangxi province, China in the Ming dynasty, 17th century of porcelain decorated with underglaze cobalt blue and iron oxide is the only one of this shape in shonzui ware.   These are two of the highlights from this show to be included in the Asia Week New York viewing room.  The entire exhibition can be seen from September 16-October 11 by appointment at the gallery at 17 East 71st Street, 4th floor.



Southern Qingbai Lidded Jar with Pinched Handles. Song Dynasty, 960 - 1279 A.D., China. H22.8 cm.

Zetterquist Galleries will show  "Chinese and Japanese Ceramics," during the month of September.  The selection in the Asia Week New York viewing room includes a Song dynasty (960 - 1279 A.D) Southern Qingbai lidded jar with pinched handles from China.  Both the treatment of the handles and pagoda shaped lid are very rare, implying that the piece may have been made for export to Southeast Asia.  A Nanbokucho – Muromachi Period 14th-15th c. A.D. stoneware “heishi” form bottle vase is an example of the very different Japanese taste as its appeal is unaffected by the damage to two thirds of the mouth-rim, most likely in a kiln accident, evidenced by glaze over damaged areas.  The gallery at 3 East 66th Street, #2B will be open by appointment only for in person exhibition viewings.

 

 

September 2020 Asia Week: Auction Calendar

September 2, 2020

On sale at Sotheby's: a gilt copper figure of Avalokiteshvara

Our regular auction house partners are holding auctions and viewings during September 2020 Asia Week, from September 18–29. Please note all viewings are by appointment only and specific dates and hours must be confirmed directly with the auction houses. We have compiled a listing of all the sales for your convenience:

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4
A LASTING ENGAGEMENT: THE JANE AND KITO DE BOER COLLECTION, online sale through September 25, at Christie's
SACRED AND IMPERIAL: THE JAMES AND MARILYNN ALSDORF COLLECTION ONLINE, online sale through September 29, at Christie's
CONTEMPORARY ART ASIA, online sale through September 29, at Christie's

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10
CRAFTED LANDSCAPES: THE ANKARCRONA COLLECTION OF JAPANESE LACQUER AND ASIAN WORKS OF ART, online sale through October 1, at Christie's

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
THE HUNDRED ANTIQUES: FINE & DECORATIVE ASIAN ART, online sale through September 29, at Sotheby's

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
10am - ELEGANT EMBELLISHMENTS: FEATURING THE RENLU COLLECTION at Bonhams
10am - ASIAN WORKS OF ART at Doyle's 
12pm - CHINESE PAINTINGS AND WORKS OF ART at Bonhams

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
9am - KANGXI PORCELAIN: A PRIVATE COLLECTION at Sotheby's
9:30am - JUNKUNC: CHINESE JADE CARVINGS at Sotheby's
10am - JAPANESE & KOREAN ART at Christie's
2pm – INDIAN, HIMALAYAN, SOUTHEAST ASIAN WORKS OF ART at Sotheby's

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
9am - IMPORTANT CHINESE ART at Sotheby's
10am - A LASTING ENGAGEMENT: THE JANE AND KITO DE BOER COLLECTION at Christie's
11:30am - SOUTH ASIAN MODERN & CONTEMPORARY ART at Christie's
2pm - DEVOTION IN STONE: GANDHARAN MASTERPIECES FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION at Christie's
3pm - INDIAN, HIMALAYAN & SOUTHEAST ASIAN ART at Bonhams

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
8:30am - SACRED AND IMPERIAL: THE COLLECTION OF JAMES AND MARILYNN ALSDORF PART I at Christie's
9:30am - SACRED AND IMPERIAL: THE COLLECTION OF JAMES AND MARILYNN ALSDORF PART II at Christie's
10am - FINE JAPANESE AND KOREAN ART at Bonhams
4pm - INDIAN, HIMALAYAN & SOUTHEAST ASIAN WORKS OF ART at Christie's

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
8:30am & 2pm - IMPORTANT CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART at Christie's 

In addition, iGavel Auctions will be holding Fall Asian Art sales coming up in October 2020. 


On sale at Bonhams: a gilt copper alloy figure of Maitreya, Khasa Malla, 13th/14th century


On sale at Doyle's: a Chinese yellow glazed and underglaze blue 'Nine Peaches' dish


On sale at Christie's: a rare and magnificent bronze figure of Shiva Tripuravijaya, South India, Tamil Nadu, Chola period, circa 1050


On sale at iGavel Auctions in October 2020

Fertile Lands at Songtsam Lodge Tacheng (Sponsor Post)

August 13, 2020

Songtsam is Asia Week New York's 2020 Presenting Sponsor. Learn more about another one of their stunning properties below!

Part of a mixed Tibetan/Lisu farming community, Songtsam Lodge Tacheng enjoys a comfortable climate and boats the region’s most fertile land. The spacious and cozy rooms in the main building face beautiful terraced rice fields and mountains in the distance. The lodge is elegantly designed to showcase fine Chinese art and style; big windows and balconies enable guests to take in the stunning rural scenery.

The year-round climate yields an abundance of fruits and nuts, growing alongside terraced fields of rice, wheat and grapes. Meals in Tacheng benefit from a rich supply of locally grown organic vegetables all year round, as well as wild honey, fish, and ham that might just be the best in China.

Tacheng is also home to the endangered Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus bieti). The endearing wildlife, idyllic environment, and relaxing atmosphere make it popular for family excursions and romantic getaways.

Destinations & Activities
At an altitude of 1,900 metres, Tacheng County is located between the Yangtze and Mekong Rivers, where some of the best old-growth forests in the world can be found. This is one of the most fertile valleys, yielding, among other crops, plentiful amounts of rice and fruit. The semi-wild boars, which feed on wild nuts before winter, make the best ham in the world. Tacheng is also famous for its rich Tibetan culture and Naxi and Lisu villages, with charming, distinctive black-roofed farmhouses.

The rare Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus bieti), is one of the world’s most endangered primates with less than 2,000 found in the wild. They live at the highest altitude of any primate (3,000-4,500 metres), excluding humans.

The journey down the Mekong River from Meili to Tacheng is simply incredible. Within only 250 kilometres, the road winds through vastly different landscapes, and includes descending from high to low altitude and experiencing cooler to warmer climates, Tibetan and Lisu culture, buckwheat crops and rice fields, and different styles of architecture.

From Cizhong to Tacheng, the countryside is incredibly beautiful. Industry is absent and the area’s natural beauty remains untouched. As passers-by, travellers will see farmers singing in the fading light while working in the fields.

Watch Panel Discussion "Seen & Unseen"

July 24, 2020

On July 23, 2020, curators Joseph Scheier-Dolberg, Sarah Laursen and Sarah Fee presented three magnificent museum exhibitions that were either postponed or not available for viewing due to the Covid-19 pandemic: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Up Close at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Lost Luxuries: Ancient Chinese Gold at the Middlebury College Museum of Art; and The Cloth That Changed the World: India's Painted and Printed Cottons at The Royal Ontario Museum.

Watch the full recording below, or jump to:
02:48 - Joseph Scheier-Dolberg / the Met
13:29 - Sarah Laursen / Middlebury College Museum of Art
28:51 - Sarah Fee / Royal Ontario Museum
41:21 - Q&A

Peaceful Coexistence at Songtsam Lodge Cizhong (Sponsor Post)

July 13, 2020

Songtsam is Asia Week New York's 2020 Presenting Sponsor. Learn more about another one of their stunning properties below!

A hundred years ago, French missionaries ventured into landlocked valleys of Yunnan province to share their religion. A century later, the churches that remain in these regions continue to thrive. Cizhong Catholic Church, where service in Tibetan is still held every Sunday, is the most beautiful of these churches, even after many years of disrepair. Songtsam Lodge Cizhong sits in this lovely Tibetan village, surrounded by the grapevine-covered slopes of local vineyards.

Destinations & Activities
At an altitude of 1,800 metres at the base of the Upper Mekong River valley, Cizhong lies in a fertile green field dotted by prayer flags, farmhouses, and waterfalls. A hundred years ago, French missionaries ventured overland to northern Yunnan province, the gateway to the heartland of Tibetan Buddhism. A century later, the churches in these regions are still thriving.

Cizhong Catholic Church is the most beautiful of these churches. First built in 1867 and rebuilt in 1909, the building combines Gothic features with characteristic of Chinese architecture. Despite many years of disrepair, the structure remains, and some of the wall paintings and facade have survived the Cultural Revolution. Services in Tibetan are held every Sunday.

The village community includes both Christians and Buddhists, with the two groups living peacefully together. Numerous hiking routes take you into the mountains.

Discover Songtsam Lodge Benzilan (Sponsor Post)

June 10, 2020

Songtsam is Asia Week New York's 2020 Presenting Sponsor. Learn more about another one of their stunning properties below!

Nestled in an intimate green valley by the Yangtze River, Songtsam Lodge Benzilan features spacious guest rooms, all decorated in a modern Sino-Tibetan style. The lodge is surrounded by authentic white-walled Tibetan homes and has views of a small prayer house that rests atop a hill. It takes only 10 minutes from the busy little town of Benzilan to reach this hidden valley seemingly removed from the outside world. Some of the exquisite antique carpets and furniture displayed in the different Songtsam lodges were collected from the villages in this area; and that’s how founder Pema Dorjee found this secret location.

Destinations & Activities
At an altitude of 2,000 metres, Benzilan stands on a narrow strip of land on the right bank of the Upper Yangzte River, tucked between the water and the sharply rising hills. As the altitude falls by more than 1,000 metres, the temperature rises, and travellers now arrive at another Shangri-La rich in blooming flowers and flourishing tress. Some of the region’s most delicious fruit is grown here, including juicy grapes and watermelons during the summer, and mouth-watering tangerines in Autumn.

The little town of Benzilan was once one of the most important stops of the Ancient Tea Horse Road. Although the glory of the once charming trading post has gone, fortunately the surrounding countryside remains intact; traditional handicraft methods have survived commercial mass-production, leaving a glance into the history of this famous trading road. Dotted with farms, small temples and some of the most pristine Tibetan villages, the countryside here is an ideal place to experience tranquil village life, and appreciate well-preserved local culture and traditions. A short hike leads to more pristine Tibetan villages and original forests in the mountains with stunning views of the lush, deep Yangtze River gorge – a journey of true discovery.

Dongzhulin Monastery sits forty minutes away from Benzilan on the way to Tibet. Although not as popular amongst tourists, it is a significant destination for the local Tibetans. The monastery has several “living” Buddhas and each year the Mask Dancing Ceremony attracts thousands of followers. It was built in 1667, before Shangri-La’s Songzanlin Monastery, and at one time housed treasures, which rivaled those of Lhasa’s Potala Palace. Unfortunately, the monastery was badly damaged during the Cultural Revolution and the current structure was restored in 1987.

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