Paris, Sep 28 (EFE).- Shaolin monks, samurais and kung fu warriors are the protagonists of the Musée du quai Branly Jacques Chirac new exhibition opening Tuesday on Asian martial arts.
“Ultimate Combat. Asian Martial Arts” displays over 400 ancient and contemporary works retracing the history of the mythology and techniques in martial arts.
Along with masks, paintings and costumes of historic figures and fictional heroes, the exhibition has a popular art and culture element with references to cinema and the Asian martial arts icon Bruce Lee.
The exhibition starts with a series of stone sculptures of Buddhist temple guardians, whose roles were to watch over the battles between gods and demons in Asian mythology over 2,000 years ago.
The exploration continues with representations of combat including a Hindu/Buddhist artwork representing power and a metaphor of freedom and knowledge.
Even though India, China and Japan are the countries represented in the exhibition, martial arts extend across the whole continent and each country in Asia has its unique history and philosophy.
Despite the differences, meditations and student-master relationships remain the pillars of the Asian arts.
The exhibition reflects the evolution of the martial arts from the importance of warfare to a more physical and spiritual development.
For Julien Rousseau, curator of the exhibition, it is also interesting how martial arts have influenced the fictional world: from Bruce Lee (1940-1973), who revolutionized Asian cinema with kung-fu performances and made Asian martial arts a universal practice, to manga series ‘Dragon Ball’ and video games of Asian combat that entered homes across the globe.
The kimono of France’s Clarisse Agbégnénou, Olympic judo champion at the last Olympic Games, is also displayed in the exhibition.