June 4 – September 10, 2017
East-West Center Gallery

The Tree of Life is an archetype, theme, motif, image, spiritual concept, and mythological story that is found through – out the world. The Tree of Life is often understood to connect all forms of creation and is a cosmic conception that connects the heavens, earth, and underworld. It has influenced art creation and visual representation for millennia. These diverse representations have taken influences from indigenous cultures and major religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, and other ancient religions.

The Tree of Life has diverse meaning across cultures in Asia. In Hindu mythology, it is the Cosmic Tree, for the Babylonians it was the tree with the divine fruit, for the Zoroastrians it is the Haoma Tree, while in Chinese mythology the one who eats its fruits becomes immortal.

This exhibition is beyond borders and the viewer will see diverse objects from 20 Asian countries. Although the emphasis is on textiles there are also examples of the tree of life image in a multitude of media including paintings, ceramics, basketry, metal work, jewelry, lacquer, stone, wood, and leather.

Handcrafted from natural and sustainable materials, the artwork focuses on traditional and contemporary interpretations of the Tree of Life. The aim of the exhibition is to create awareness about the importance of ecology to stimulate creativity as well as to highlight cultural sustainability. Manjari Nirula, co-curator from India states, “The aim of the exhibition is to create greater awareness about the importance of ecology to stimulate creativity and innovation while highlighting natural as well as cultural sustainability. Craft has the least carbon footprint and that comes through very strongly in this exhibition.”

There are many indigenous cultures in Sarawak, Malaysia that address the concepts of the sacred forest. According to co-curator Edric Ong from Sarawak, Malaysia, “The Tree of Life, known as pohon budi in Malaysian language, is talking about a tree of culture, a tree of civilization, a tree from which mankind evolved. The exhibition builds bridges and healing with its message of peace and love.”

Click here to download the exhibit handout.

East-West Center Gallery
John A. Burns Hall, 1601 East-West Road
(corner Dole St. & East-West Rd.)

Gallery admission is free.

Hours: Open Weekdays 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. and Sundays Noon–4:00 p.m.
Closed Saturdays, Feb. 20, Apr. 16, May 29

Parking on the UH-Mānoa campus is normally free and ample on Sundays.

Free school & group tours available

For further information: 944-7177