Ten must-see works at the Rubin Museum of Art

Good for: Spiritualists

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  • Photograph: Courtesy Rubin Museum of Art

    Green Tara

  • Photograph: Bruce White

    Base with Lions and Inscription

  • Photograph: Courtesy Rubin Museum of Art

    Goddess Marichi

  • Photograph: Courtesy Rubin Museum of Art

    Mask of Begtse

  • Photograph: Courtesy Rubin Museum of Art

    Dancing Ganapati

Photograph: Courtesy Rubin Museum of Art

Green Tara


Green Tara
The museum is preparing an exhibit (to open next year) devoted to the Tenth Karmapa, a high-ranking Buddhist figurehead who created this sculpture. "His style is so distinctive," explains Luczanits. "He was very fond of nature, so you have these flashy flowers instead of Lotus blossoms." Meanwhile, Buddha is relegated to barely more than an accessory, sitting atop this goddess's head.
Where to find it: "Masterworks: Jewels of the Collection," ongoing.

Base with lions
It's missing the Buddha who would have sat atop it, but this early-seventh-century base found in modern-day Pakistan still has a special place at the Rubin: It's the oldest piece in the museum's masterworks exhibit. Its value on the market, however, was compromised because of the misplaced deity. The pedestal also shows the double-petal-lotus motif that was copied by Tibetan artists, including the Tenth Karmapa.
Where to find it: "Masterworks: Jewels of the Collection," ongoing.

Goddess Marichi
This exceptionally crafted statue came from the school of Zanabazar, the great Mongolian artist. He was known for incorporating Nepalese styles from about 400 years earlier, and this work was most likely one part of a monastery set of Buddhist deities. According to Luczanits, it's one of the best examples of the pieces produced in his workshop in the late 17th to early 18th century that can be seen outside of Asia.
Where to find it: "Masterworks: Jewels of the Collection," Third Floor, ongoing.

Mask of Begtse
Only a few examples of masks produced in Mongolia for a short period during the 19th century exist. Coral was used to create the visage of this deity, who is traditionally painted red; Luczanits thinks that the stone, which was acquired through trade along the Indian Ocean, may have come from India. Dancers would wear the 30-pound mask, peering out between the forks in the tongue, during rituals meant to scare away bad spirits.
Where to find it:
"Masterworks: Jewels of the Collection," ongoing.

Dancing Ganapati
In this piece, Ganapati, who is related to the Hindu god Ganesha, balances on a hybrid of a rat and mongoose who spits pearls as a sign of good fortune. The artistry of the sculpture—the movement of its arms and its resemblance to an elephant, which sometimes perplexed Tibetan and Chinese artisans who had never seen the animal—makes it one of the more visually stunning items in the collection, says Luczanits.
Where to find it:
"Gateway to Himalayan Art," ongoing.

Rubin Museum of Art, 150 W 17th St at Seventh Ave (212-620-5000, rmanyc.org). Mon, Thu 11am–5pm; Wed 11am–7pm; Fri 11am–10pm; Sat, Sun 11am–6pm. $10, seniors and students $5, children under 12 free. Fri 6–10pm free.

While you're there...

To truly immerse yourself in Tibetan culture, stop by swanky Caf @ RMA on the first floor for authentic regional cuisine, such as the Himalayan vegetable momos, steamed dumplings that would look at home on a dim sum spread ($9.50) or Bhutanese ema datshi ($10) a spicy cheese-and-vegetable dish served over rice. The Caf also pours wine and specialty cocktails during the museum's Wednesday Happy Hours (5–7pm) and K2 Friday Nights (6–10pm).

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