Washington D.C. will soon be the home of a piece of yoga history. The Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian’s Museums of Asian Art will host the first large exhibition of yoga-related art. The show, titled “Yoga: The Art of Transformation,” takes a look back at yoga’s history as far back as 500 BCE.
The exhibition will show yoga-related art in a variety of mediums from a number of different cultures. According to the Smithsonian, “the exhibition includes more than 100 temple sculptures, devotional icons, illustrated manuscripts, court paintings, photographs, books and films borrowed from 25 museums and private collections in India, Europe and the United States.” One of the pieces in the exhibit, the 10 Bahr al- Hayat folios, has never been shown in the U.S. All of these pieces of art will come together to give visitors to the exhibit a look at yoga’s extensive history.
Though there is no record of exactly when yoga came into being, records of its existence have been found dating back 5,000 years or more. Around 130 individual pieces make up the exhibition and will not only give a visual representation of history, but also depict its cultural permanence. Though the recent surge in popularity may lead some to believe that it is a relatively new phenomenon, this exhibit shows through icons, sculptures, photographs and manuscripts the timelessness of yoga. Visitors will be able to view yoga through the eyes of its practitioners.
“These works of art allow us to trace, often for the first time, yoga’s meanings across the diverse social landscapes of India,” said Debra Diamond, the curator of the museum’s South Asian art in a statement on the exhibit. “United for the first time, they not only invite aesthetic wonder, but also unlock the past-opening a portal onto yoga’s surprisingly down-to-earth aspects over 2,000 years.” “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” doesn’t open in the Sackler Gallery until October 19, 2013, and runs through January 26, 2014. The gallery is hoping to fundraise through crowdfunding by July 1 to offset the cost of bringing the exhibit to the Smithsonian.