Stout Hall of Asian Peoples
The Gardner D. Stout Hall of Asian Peoples—the Museum’s largest cultural hall—showcases some of the finest collections in Asian ethnology in the Western Hemisphere. Some 3,000 artifacts, which represent about 5 percent of the Museum’s considerable holdings, are displayed in the hall.
Asia contains more than one-third of the land surface of the world and some of the world’s most populous countries, including India and China. The hall explores the continent’s history and cultural diversity, highlighting regions such as India, China, Japan, Korea, Siberia, and Armenia, and exploring topics that include trade and the rise of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Confucianism. Sections of the hall are arranged roughly as if on a map, and it is possible to walk through the hall following either a northern or southern trade route.
Detailed dioramas include depictions of a wedding in a rural Hindu village in central India; a faithful re-creation of a late 19th-century healing ceremony of the Sakha of Eastern Siberia; and an ornate wedding chair, which would have carried a traditional Chinese bride to her new life with her husband’s family.
A bride sits in a Chinese wedding chair as she embarks on a journey for a first meeting with the man she is about to marry. The Museum's diorama depicts this traditional passage from childhood to adulthood and from one family and way of life to another.
In this diorama, a shaman comes to receive a sick woman's soul, which has been captured by malevolent spirits. Once the woman is in a trance, the shaman's soul will travel to the spirit world and battle to restore her soul. The Yakut shaman's robe is an integral piece of this healing ceremony.
This small carved wood whale was collected in Siberia in 1901 by Russian ethnographer Waldemar Jochelson for the Museum’s Jesup North Pacific Expedition.
During excavations near Peking (Beijing), China, between 1929 and 1937, researchers discovered several partial skulls of the species Homo erectus. These hominids lived around 400,000 years ago and came to be known as Peking Man.
Some 300,000 years ago, a new tool-making technique produced a sharp-edged flake of stone. Neanderthals were masters of this technique and made a wide variety of sharp tools.