Chinatown, in downtown New York, is the home of a new pop-up exhibit! The Forgotten East is a mystic pop-up adventure that will take you through a journey back to ancient China.
You might remember from your History class back in school the story of the famous Silk Road that connected the regions of “East Asia and Southeast Asia with East Africa, West Asia and Southern Europe”. (source Wikipedia) If you don’t…let me refresh you memory!
It built the relationship between the East and the West from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D.
It’s well-known that the route was immensely prosperous from the silk trade along the way. But, other items were also traded in different time periods like glassware, spices, perfumes, nephrite, jade, other crafts and so much more.
It is also said that not only objects were traded, but there was an immense cultural exchange. Religions like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, etc were spread, but most prominently was Buddhism due to the monasteries found along the journey. They ended up being homes to foreigners that were introduced to this new religion and practices.
What ended up happening is that many of these foreigners, because of the vast influence of different schools, “mixed and matched” beliefs, resulting in syncretism. What is that? Well, it’s the “attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties, as in philosophy or religion”. (source Dictionary.com)
Now that you’ve refreshed your mind, let me get into the exhibition!
The journey is divided into 4 specific room called The Mountain, The Desert, The Cave and The Market. The artist behind it all is the young and talented, Masa Ma.
She explains the idea behind it: “I wanted to represent not only the main street of ancient China, but also wanted to bring back the memories, relaxation and the beautiful natural society in ancient times, where industrialization does not exist.”
After all, we all know how crazy it can be to live in a city like New York and other big cities, right? She wanted to remind her audience that it’s time to slow down and enjoy their life in the river of history.
1st room: The Mountain
This room is beautifully painted and shows an Eastern mountain in a Chinese landscape. In addition, you can walk through some small installations as a continuation of these mountains with a happy surprise when a strong vapor is released to replicate the mountain’s mist. Pretty cool!
It’s also curious and interesting to see on one of the walls, a beautifully written Chinese poem that talks about nature.
2nd Room: The Cave
When you enter this room, your eyes just can stop looking everywhere. It’s a translation of the Mogao Caves. It is also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas uniting 492 temples located in Gansu province, China. It was used by Buddhists to warship their Gods and practice their endless meditations, as well as welcome foreigners that journeyed through the Silk Road.
Since the cave was the home to some of the most amazing Buddhist art up to 1,000-years old, Masa Ma created small Buddhist sculptures that were placed throughout the room.
Curiously, the holes on the cave’s walls were designed with a mirror, as a reminder to us not to destroy nature and be mindful of our actions.
3rd Room: The Desert
Throughout the exploration of this room, you’ll find a beautiful treasure trunk with jewelry, china, silk and other treasures inside (even skulls were found there, back in the day!). Treasures were actually left behind by the ones that passed through and experienced the brutal desert climate.
The fun thing of this room is to play around with the jewelry and take that Instagram-worthy shot! It’s the most explorative place throughout our adventure.
4th Room: The Market
Finally, you reach our destination! The Eastern Market was where the magic happened. Travelers and adventurers exchanged good and fostered this fast-growing economy, in such a distant time in history from us.
This last room had some delicious surprises for you to enjoy at the end of the journey with your friends/family.
“The Forgotten East is not only an exhibit about eastern culture, but it is a journey that represents travelers and adventurers’ courage to conquer challenges and reach their final destination to the western world,” as states Fengyuan Zhong, another artist of the exhibit.
The pop-up exhibition will run daily through July 28th, 2019.
Kids (2-15 years-old): $15
Monday – Friday: 11am – 9pm
Saturday: 10am – 9pm
Sunday: 10am – 8pm
Location: 310 Canal Street
Photo Credit: ©Behind the Scenes NYC