Exhibition Details


Location: Art of Asia galleries
Dates: August 3, 2019
to March 29, 2020

Crickets, Tea, and Snuff: Chinese Intellectual Pursuits

August 3, 2019 – March 29, 2020

Art of Asia galleries

In traditional China, the literati, or educated class, set the standards for aesthetic taste and leisurely pursuits, many of which are still practiced today. Through a diverse selection of objects, this exhibition introduces viewers to a number of these preferences and interests.

Crickets were the ideal pet for members of the Chinese upper classes and imperial court because of their soothing sound and their ability to be transported in elegant, portable cages. Viewers will have the opportunity to examine various gourd cricket cages donated to the Museum by Amy S. Clague.

The beverage of connoisseurs in China and still widely consumed today, tea is considered beneficial, stimulating the mind, cleansing the blood, and aiding in digestion. As a result, tea vessels hold a special significance. For centuries, the town of Yixing was known as the central producer of unglazed teawares, and a collection of Yixing teawares, donated to the Museum by James T. Bialac, is showcased in the exhibition.

The practice of inhaling snuff, or aromatic tobacco ground into a fine powder, for a jolt of nicotine originated in the Americas but took hold in China during the 17th century. Made of stone, porcelain, lacquer, and other materials, snuff bottles were symbols of status, wealth, and taste in China. The exhibition features a selection of Chinese snuff bottles, donated to the Museum by Deborah G. Carstens.

Crickets, Tea, and Snuff: Chinese Intellectual Pursuits is organized by Phoenix Art Museum. It is made possible through the generosity of Amy S. Clague, James T. Bialac, Deborah G. Carstens, and donors to the Museum’s annual fund.

Image credit (detail): Fan Guoying, Precious gem teapot, 20th century. Stoneware. Gift of James T. Bialac in honor of the Museum's 50th Anniversary.