ACM Treasures in AR


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ACM Treasures in web AR can only be viewed on smart mobile devices with camera access enabled.



ACM Treasures in web augmented reality

Draw close to treasures from ACM with web augmented reality (web AR) models by creative start-up iMMERSiVELY. Explore cross-cultural masterworks of Asian antiquities and decorative art that celebrate the region’s rich artistic heritage and achievements, including a rare gold cup from the Tang Shipwreck collection, an incense burner made with objects from different cultures, and an exquisite bridal headdress from Southeast Asia.

These web AR models (constructed polygon by polygon to express as much details of the original as possible, and in under a 4mb total file size!) were inspired by the actual masterpieces to give viewers an up-close look of each masterpiece, enabling appreciation of design and craftsmanship, as well as an understanding of the richness of cross-cultural contact: a reminder that the world's peoples, faiths, and cultures have long interacted and inspired one another.

ACM Treasures in web AR can only be viewed on smart mobile devices with camera access enabled.



Octagonal cup with musicians and a dancer
China, Yangzhou, ca 830s
Gold, height 9cm

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Octogonal cup with musicians and a dancer


The pure gold objects discovered on this shipwreck are among the most important discoveries of Tang gold ever made, and the first substantial find outside China itself. The Tang dynasty was the peak period for production of Chinese gold and silver vessels. Production was spurred by foreign metal wares, many from Sasanian Iran and Sogdiana (in present-day Uzbekistan and Tajikistan), which were brought to China by merchants plying the Silk Road. The form of this gold cup (with its flared footrim and ring handle with thumbplate) is based on Sogdian examples.

The long curly hair and billowing clothing of the musicians and dancer identify them as Central Asian. During the 8th and 9th centuries, such entertainers were popular in China. The bearded faces on the handle are also evidently not Chinese. As the theme of the design is revelry and entertainment, the cup would probably have been used for wine drinking on such an occasion. This cup is the largest of the type known in the world.

It remains a mystery for whom the precious metal wares on this ship were intended. These gold objects might have been gifts from the emperor. Or they might have been to trade for desirable imports from abroad, such as spices, pearls, and other exotic rarities.




Mounted incense burner
Europe, 18th century
Porcelain (China, around 1700),
gilded bronze mounts (France, mid-18th century),
lacquer bowls (Japan, 18th century),
red coral, height 26.2cm

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Mounted Incense Burner


This object was assembled in Europe combining Chinese porcelain, Japanese lacquer (the bowls set rim to rim have a metal tray inside to hold burning incense), and red coral. Gilded bronze fittings made in Europe hold it all together.

Fantasies like this that blend objects from different cultures and mix the natural with the man-made, were favoured in the Baroque and Rococo periods in Europe.




Sri Lanka, early 16th century
Ivory, silver, gold leaf,
11.2 x 19.8 x 14.2cm

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This is an early example of Sri Lankan ivories made for Portugal, and formerly belonged to Fernando II, King of Portugal (1816–1885). The panels are carved with elegant spiral that enclose animals including geese, lions and makaras (mythical sea creatures). The handles and the form of the keyhole cover are European in style.




Walking Buddha
Sukhothai kingdom (Thailand),
probably 15th or 16th century
Bronze, height 117 cm

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Walking Buddha


The three-dimensional Walking Buddha, full of fluidity and movement, was an innovation of the Sukhothai period. The dynamic posture, with curvaceous arms and tapering fingers, fitted with flowing hemline, flamed top-knot (cintamani), and one hand raised in the abhaya mudra (gesture of fearlessness), accentuate the sense of movement.

The walking pose probably relates to Buddha’s return from Tavatimsa Heaven, where he preached the doctrine to his mother. Alternatively, it could represent the Buddha’s walking meditation in the garden after his enlightenment.




Philippines, Mindanao, Lanao del Sur,
early to mid-20th century
Wood, paint
112 x 101.5 x 110cm

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Every 27th of Rajab, the seventh month on the Islamic calendar, Muslims mark the event of Prophet Muhammad’s miraculous journeys from Mecca to Jerusalem and to the heavens, known as the Isrā’ and Mi’rāj. According to tradition, the Prophet rode on the Burāq, “a white animal, half-mule, half-donkey, with wings”, as he ascended the heavens in a single night. Although depictions of the Burāq are not uncommon in Islamic art, it is often featured in pictorial forms.

Sculptures of the creature seem to be popular among the southern Filipino Muslim communities for display at important feasts and festivals. Here, the stylised floral motifs in the Burāq’s headdress and tail, drawn from observations of their natural environment, are characteristic of the Maranao people’s artistry. Woodcarving is a prominent artistic tradition not just in the Southern Philippines but across the Malay world, and serves as a primary source of motifs and patterns for other arts such as textile craft and metalwork.




Reliquary crucifix
Japan, 17th century
Gilded copper alloy, lacquer (sawasa)
15 x 11 x 2.5cm

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Reliquary Crucifix


This crucifix reliquary was made in Japan, perhaps for Western Christian missionaries working there. On one side, is a figure of Christ Crucified; on the other the Virgin Mary. The decoration is in a technique called sawasa, which involves applying lacquer to a gilded metal surface, then both incising and adding raised relief decoration to create stunning contrasts in black and gold.




Ancestor figure
Indonesia, Nias Island, 19th century
Wood, cotton, pigment, height 56.5 cm

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Ancestor Figure


Large figures that represent an illustrious village founder, or the most ancient ancestor, are called siraha salawa. They sit or squat, and always hold a cup. The large pointed crown is another distinguishing feature, here decorated with red ribbons.

While a house might have many smaller ancestor figures there would be only one siraha salawa. Sacrificial offerings to it secured protection for the household. Before the Christian era (until about 1916), every home would have possessed one, usually passed down from previous generations.




China, 1910s or 1920s

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This qipao reflects foreign influences and represents a departure from Qing fashion. The surface is plain, with decoration limited to a wide band of Cyrillic letters applied (pieces of fabric stitched on) around the neckline, button closure, and cuffs, and a repeating geometric design along the collar and edges of the robe.

Cyrillic script is used in Slavic languages like Russian, and a sizable, powerful community of Russians lived in Shanghai by the 1930s. The characters here do not form a coherent message or word – perhaps indicating the wearer’s appreciation of them as an exotic novelty.



Borneo, East Kalimantan, Kutai, 1920s

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Garuda Headdress


This headdress was most likely worn by a woman of aristocratic status from the Islamic court of Kutai. The central Garuda feature is an important Hindu-Buddhist symbol of royal authority.

From the Majapahit period onwards, Javanese ideas were absorbed into the coastal regions of Borneo and other neighbouring islands. Even after the conversion to Islam by the 16th century, the impact of Hindu-Buddhist ideas continued to influence the arts and cultures of these communities.

Gift of Mr Edmond Chin



Jar with Daoist immortals
China, Jingdezhen,
Ming dynasty (Jiajing period, 1522–66)
Porcelain, height 46.7 cm

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Jar with Daoist Immortals


Daoist immortals gather in the scene on this jar to pay their respects to Shoulao, deity of longevity. The jar was probably made by a private kiln in Jingdezhen for the court of the emperor. The many icons of longevity, including the lingzhi fungus, cranes, and peaches, can be attributed to the Jiajing emperor’s obsession with immortality. Most Ming emperors were Buddhist, but Jiajing was devoted to Daoism.