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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Revisiting Our Favorites

  • Japanese Buddhist Temple

    Slide Notes

    Designed in 1909, the Buddhist Temple Room evokes the dignified simplicity of Japanese temples. Japanese and American craftsmen consulted plans of the main hall at the eighth-century monastic complex of Hōryū-ji, one of the oldest extant in Japan, and collaborated on the adaptation of some of its architectural elements for the Temple Room and nearby galleries. Massive wooden pillars with Japanese-style brackets now frame the walls in the Temple Room, where the décor and subdued lighting encourage contemplative viewing of the seven Japanese statues housed there.

    The focal point is the monumental Dainichi, Buddha of Infinite Illumination (1149), the supreme deity of the Esoteric Buddhist pantheon. His hand is in the “wisdom-fist” gesture symbolizing divine knowledge. To his left is another Dainichi Buddha from the 12th century, and to his right is Amida, Buddha of Infinite Light (12th century). Also on view in the Temple Room are two of Four Guardian Kings (9th century), Fudō the Immovable One (12th century) and Bishamonten, Guardian of the North (11th–12th century). All are made of wood, either cypress or camphor, and some are painted or have gilt accents.

    Details

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Gems and Jewelry from the Ancient...

    Slide Notes

    This gallery is a veritable jewel box featuring more than 150 items of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan jewelry—earrings, rings, bracelets, necklaces, pins, and wreaths—made of precious metals and stones. A dazzling gold standout is the renowned 4th-century BC earring depicting Nike, Greek goddess of victory, driving a chariot. For close-up looks at this treasure and more, pick up an MFA Guide. The gallery also showcases more than 100 precious gems from the MFA’s distinguished Greek and Roman collection, considered the best in the US. Highlights include cameos—gems carved in relief that were especially popular in the early Roman imperial period.

    Details

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Ancient Egyptian Galleries

    Slide Notes

    Revisit the ancient Egyptian galleries and rediscover mummies and other fascinating objects.

    Details

    Mummy mask

    A.D. 1–50

    Dimensions

    Height: 57.2 cm (22 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Painted and gilded cartonnage, inlaid glass

    Classification

    Tomb equipment, Masks

    Accession Number

    1993.555.1

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Egyptian Funerary Arts Gallery (Mummies) - 109 More Info

    Description

    Traditional Egyptian funerary practices continued well into Roman times, when cartonnage mummy masks were made to fit over the head of the wrapped mummy. They belong to the same tradition as mummy masks from the Middle Kingdom. This face, modeled in plaster, is bland and idealized, and represents the deceased transformed into a god. The gilding and glass inlays are quite dazzling. Yet the black hair emerging from beneath the headdress lends a human touch to this shining icon. The traditional lappet headdress is painted with age-old funerary motifs. A winged sun disk with uraei, image of the celestial Horus, crowns the head like a diadem, and rows of seated deities, Anubis jackals, and solar uraei adorn the sides. The broadcollar is a kaleidoscope of rosettes and geometric patterns imitating rows of beads. The scene on the chest depicts the resurrection of Osiris. The god reclines on a lion bier, with Isis in front of him and Nephthys behind him, gesticulating with grief and uttering magic spells to bring him back to life. Above him hovers a falcon holding in its talons the shen-ring of eternity and a feather fan. Below are the Red Crown, the Double Crown, and the White Crown — the emblems of his power. Magic seems to take effect before our eyes as the shrouded one, the great god Osiris — his flesh of Nile silt, ram’s horns of divinity on his head — sits up in bed and turns to face his sister-wife. The god is reborn.

    Multimedia