Asian art
Return to collections

Devotion Nature Time People

Dating from 2,500BCE to the contemporary era and created across a vast geographic area, the works displayed here represent many different nations and cultures. This artistic legacy is presented in four thematic groups—Devotion, Nature, People and Time and place—and explores Asian art across geographic, temporal, religious and cultural boundaries.

The theme of Devotion reflects the role of spirituality in the creation of works of art through historical and recent Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, animist and ancestral images, ceremonial objects and texts. Nature reveals the many ways artists depict the natural world, from stylised motifs to intricate, realistic drawings of flora, fauna and landscapes. People explores portraiture in diverse forms including Chinese funerary goods, Indonesian ancestor figures and Japanese woodblock prints and paintings. Also on display are textiles, costume and everyday objects that celebrate the skill of the maker and the entwined lives of objects and people. Time and Place presents artists’ responses to specific locations and events, from personal moments to events of great historical or political significance.

Research is underway to better understand the ownership histories of the art on display. The known provenance of most works is available on the NGA website and is regularly updated to reflect new information.

New acquisitions


Special focus

Related exhibition sites

Select Publications

  • A stream of stories: Indian miniatures from the National Gallery of Australia, 1997
  • Beauty and desire in Edo period Japan Gary Hickey 1998
  • Life in the emperor’s tomb: ceramics from ancient China Charlotte Galloway 2002
  • The vision of kings: art and experience in India  Michael Brand 1995
  • Traditions of Asian art : traced through the collection of the National Gallery of Australia Michael Brand editor, 1995
  • Tsui collection of Chinese art introduction by TT Tsui, 1995