Artworks at Villa Umi

Since Prehistoric times when Humans started to draw animals on walls of the caves they were living in, as illustrated by UNESCO, and up to now, art has been a way for Humans to cope with the hardship of their existence, along with philosophy which appeared much later.

From China

Sword with its scabbard, Yunnan Province, nineteenth century.

Imported from the island of Borneo, Indonesia where Chinese were traveling for trade. Detailed photo shows ancient Chinese writing on the sword.

Ink on ivory

This artwork, with a delicate drawing of a young lady on one side and of a landscape on the other side, was used as a small box containing opium. In ancient times, Chinese used to inhale opium. They used a small spatula (see detailed photo) to take opium from the small box, usually while they were comfortably lying down in locations dedicated to that social activity.

From Korea

Vase, ceramic

Historically, Chinese art had a great influence on Korean ceramics and art, on Persian ceramics, and on Japanese art.

Traditional lamp, wood, glass and paper

From Japan

Hokusai, The Great Wave, reproduction.

In the nineteenth century, Japanese painter Hokusai created a technique called Ukiyo-e which had a great influence on Impressionists painters like Monet, Manet, Renoir, Vang Gogh.

Likewise, around the same time, Japanese painters Hiroshige and Eisen also had a great influence on Van Gogh painting with Japanese writing, a lady dressed with a Japanese kimono after Eisen, and on Claude Monet painting traditional kimono.

Several books on those artists are on display in the library of Villa Umi.

Music box, Disney, Tokyo

Traditional Japanese Doll

Bowl Set, Japan

Traditional Japanese Handicraft

Painting on Paper, Japan

From India

Ink on ivory

Two pieces of ivory had been glued together and on it, the artist used ink to draw that delicate scene in which the influence of Persian miniatures clearly appears.

Marble plate engraved with semi-precious stones

Made by local craftsmen who are still copying the works of ancient craftsmen who had built the Taj Mahal in the seventeenth century, a grandiose mausoleum made out of white marble engraved with semi-precious stones. Taj Mahal was dedicated by Shah Jahan, a Mughal Emperor, to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, daughter of a wealthy Persian noble. Mumtaz passed away a short time before the start of the construction of the Taj Mahal.

Window, wood, Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer is an old city located in the middle of the desert of Thar, in the State of Rajasthan (literally meaning « land of kings ») in the North West of India, near the Pakistan border.

Such small windows were used in houses traditionally built with ornately carved sandstone.

Jaisalmer also has beautiful Jain temples, while Ranakpur, another city in Rajasthan, has a marvelous Jain temple made out of ornately carved white marble.

Jainism is a religion which praises life in all its forms. It prohibits the destruction of any form of life, even the life of microbes, leading the most devotees to renounce taking antibiotics for fighting infections, for not killing even a form of life which is bacteria.

Musician, santal wood

The flute used by the musician had been broken during the transportation of that artwork, and hence it is missing.

From Cambodia

Apsara dance, jade and wood

In the Hindu and Buddhist mythology, Apsara is the female spirit of the clouds and waters. Sensual dance, referring to Hindu history which had led to the construction of the largest Hindu temple in the world, located at Angkor Wat in the city of Siem Reap in Cambodia.

Siem Reap means « Thais defeated » referring to a failed attempt by fighters from Thailand to invade Cambodia a long time ago. Thais were stopped in Siem Reap.

Angkor Wat is drawing tourists from all over the world, including from India, to pay a visit to that Hindu temple. In ancient times, Indians were traveling to various countries for trade, including to Cambodia. At the same time, they propagated their faith in Hinduism which praised sexuality as a gift from Mother Nature. Sexuality was considered as a necessity for a happy life, as it appears from numerous ancient erotic sculptures still visible in Khajuraho, India.

Elephant, leather

Handmade by poor children near the temple of Angkor Wat in the City of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

From Thailand

Reproduction of a Thai dance

From Myanmar (Burma)

Embroideries handmade

Beautiful ballerina dancing, fabrics and other images are drawn. It was painted and sewn with threads of silver and gold and turned into beautiful embroidery.

Purchased in Myanmar one year before the military coup of February 1st, 2021.

The people of Myanmar, mostly Buddhists, are very kind. What happened to them is really sad. In that country, some Buddhist leaders, extremists, did not tolerate the existence on their land of people called “Rohingyas” who fled Bangladesh a long time ago and have Islam as a religion. On the other hand, some Burmese are scared of a growing influence of islam that might lead to restrictions on individual freedom in Myanmar affecting particularly women, as it already happened in Iran and in Afghanistan.

Sculpture, wood

Plate, bamboo

From Indonesia

Traditional house, Bali, silver

In ancient times, such houses were used by large groups living under the same roof. Nowadays, in Bali, it is common to see compounds in the middle of which there is a temple surrounded by several buildings in which various members of a given family live. One such compound is surrounded by a high wall providing privacy.

Ink on bamboo, Bali

Mythological poem with drawings, like a cartoon, annotated on the left side in Balinese and on the right side in English, 1993.

Two masks, wood, Bali

Sculpture in one piece of wood, Bali

Two Vases Ceramic, Borneo Indonesia

From The Philippines

Artwork made out of shells, Province of Bohol

Shells found in the sea of the Philippines

Guests interested in the history of arts in the Philippines are invited to read a book titled « The Philippines in the 19 th Century », on display in the library of Villa Umi.

From Malaysia

Way Bula, traditional Malay moon kite, a symbol of Malaysia

It resembles a rising crescent moon when flown, also reproduced in Malay denomination, as guests may see into a booklet of foreign denominations from various countries, on display in the library of Villa Umi.

From Russia

Traditional set of dolls, painting on wood

From Iran

Four reproductions of drawings from Master Mohammad Ali Zaviya, 1992

Persian miniatures

They had influenced artists in the Northern part of India which had been invaded a long time ago by Persian Emperors.

Tribute Bearer (500 B.C.) Achaemenian Period

Vase and glasses

The blue color in this artwork is a symbol of heaven’s sky, prepared with metal oxide powders mixed with special oils and solvents to form a creamy paint.

Two boxes, wood, mother-in-pearls

In the Middle East, before the apparition of Islam in the seventh century, Zoroastrianism was based on the adoration of fire. Between the eighth and tenth centuries, Islamization led to the emigration of some of the followers of Zoroastrianism, known as « Parsi », to Mumbai in India. They were well integrated into Indian society. A prominent Parsi named Tata has built a giant business empire, still active nowadays. To the contrary, Buddhists in the Middle East didn’t have such an opportunity.

It is of interest to note that Persian art, made a long time ago under the rule of Islamic religion, displayed people drinking wine and dancing, while nowadays in some muslim countries, alcohol and dancing are prohibited.

Many originals of such artworks from Iran are on display on a permanent basis in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France.

To learn more about Persian arts, a book called « Arts of Persia » is on display in the library of Villa Umi.

From Uzbekistan

Silk Weaving

Silk is the jewel of Uzbekistan’s handicrafts sector. Weavers dye the threads before they weave them, and then use narrow handlooms and the ikat technique to produce fabrics with a distinctive zigzag pattern. These silks are fashioned into dramatic outfits and also unique homeware.

From Turkey

Handmade painting on ceramic tiles

The roots of the art of Turkish tiles can be traced from the eighth century. Turkish tulips symbolize love, civilization and knowledge, and pomegranates are venerated in various religions. Tulips were imported from Turkey into the Netherlands before they became a symbol for the Netherlands, overshadowing the fact that tulips originated, not from the Netherlands, but from Turkey.

From Egypt

Antique knife with its scabbard from Nubia, Southern part of Egypt near the Sudanese border

The first monotheism in history had been prior to Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It was the adoration of the Sun, the only God praised by Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten around – 1355 before Christ. Although polytheism was widespread at that time in Egypt, Akhenaten prohibited polytheism and imposed monotheism. Soon after his death, polytheism had been restored.

From France

Artistic photography of lavanda in Provence

A symbol of Provence, lavanda is also grown in other countries like Japan and the United-Kingdom.

Ancient map of Asia drawn by hand in 1723 for the King of France

One can read « Bohol » in the South of the Philippines. At that time, spices imported from Asia were more expensive than gold. Under the French King Louis XIV, chocolate was a luxury considered as a medicine and consumed by high society.

About the photo detail written in French, here is a translation into English :

« Map of Asia Made for the usage of the King Upon reports sent by the Tsar to the Royal Academy of Sciences : On what the Arabs had let us to know at the best of their knowledge about eastern countries On a large number of travelers on land and on sea, and on hand made and detailed maps All of the above subjected to the observations of the Academy and to those of the R.R.P.P. Jesuits and other Mathematicians. By Guillaume Delisle, First Geographer of His Majesty From there Royal Academy of Sciences In Paris, at the author at the Quay de l’Horloge With Privilege from the King June 1723 »

Reproduction of a drawing by Serge Lagerfeld, creative director of the fashion house Chanel, 2013

Oil on canvas by Dr Jacques Chaoulli, owner of Villa Umi, after French Master Pierre-Auguste Renoir, nineteenth century

Oil on canvas by Dr Chaoulli, after French Master Jean-Honoré Fragonard, eighteenth century

Oil on wood by Dr Chaoulli, after French Master Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, nineteenth century

Oil on canvas by Dr Chaoulli, after Spanish Master Juan de Arellano, seventeenth century

Drawing by Dr Chaoulli after Michelangelo, sixteenth century

From United Kingdom

Oil painting on canvas, portrait of a woman, anonymous and undated

From Italy

One vase and one bottle for perfume, island of Murano, near Venice

Glass and mirror makers from the small island of Murano, near Venice, have the reputation to be the best in the world. Indeed, Murano has a long and rich history. During the reign of the King of France Louis XIV in the seventeenth century, Venice was an independent Republic. For Murano’s glassmakers to divulge their secrets of fabrication was punishable by death, and yet Jean-Baptiste Colbert, appointed by King Louis XIV, succeeded in sending spies to Murano and in obtaining those secrets which enabled King Louis XIV to get his very tall mirrors made in France and installed into his famous Hall of Mirrors in the castle of Versailles, still visible nowadays.

Mask, Venice

This is a unique handmade mask made out of papier-mache, plaster and embroidery. Those masks were used during the Carnival of Venice in February of each year.

Reproduction of a portrait of a woman from Leonardo Da Vinci.

From Greece

Vase, clay

This artwork is a modern copy of ancient Greek art. Ancient Greece, with philosophers Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, had been considered as the root of Western civilization. What is less known is that long before, ancient Egyptian philosophy had exercised an influence over Ancient Greece.

From Canada

Amerindian art from the Province of British-Columbia, drawing of a bird

Amerindians were occupying lands in Canada long before the arrival of the French and of the British. Upon their arrival, they designated those lands as vacant and hence subject to colonization since, according to them, the Amerindians did not « organized » said lands. Amerindians and indigenous people of South-America came from Asia, walking on a very long distance through what is now the Detroit of Bearing, then a walkable land before the sea took over and separated the North Eastern part of Asia from the North Western part of North America.

Duck, wood, Canada

From Mexico

Two sculptures, stone, State of Oaxaca

Sculpture, wood, State of Oaxaca

From Bahamas

Dolphin, jade on stone

In the Bahamas, dolphins were kept in semi-liberty in a closed area from where, once in a while, the door was open and the dolphins were allowed to leave and swim into the deep sea. They were free to return from the deep sea, or not, into that enclosed area. They knew that by returning into that enclosed area, they were going to get food from their human guardians.

Dr Chaoulli had the privilege of experiencing swimming and diving in apnea with a dolphin in the deep sea under those circumstances, alone with a dolphin, a truly memorable experience.

Likewise, in Lila, Province of Bohol, Philippines, nowadays, people have the possibility to swim with whale sharks. They are called « gentle giants ». They are the largest fish in the world. Each morning, from the deep sea, upon their own will, some of them come to the shore looking to get food from local fishermen, and then they return into the deep sea to reappear the next morning with the same intent to reappear, or not

Some criticize the fact of providing food to those animals. To the contrary, others argue that such an activity has the benefit of having fishermen not killing those animals anymore, since they now constitute a source of income for them who now have a compelling incentive to keep them alive and in good health. Around the world, various models of coexistence between endangered species and Humans have been experienced. Those issues are for everyone to make his / her own mind.

From South America

Pan flute, bamboo

Beside artworks, Villa Umi also displays two articles from an original French news paper dated 1911

The robbery of Mona Lisa

In 1911, the painting Mona Lisa was robbed and later given back mysteriously by the robber. Leonardo Da Vinci had been invited to France by then King François 1er. Da Vinci traveled from Italy to France across the mountains of the Alps on a mule and on foot, carrying with him, among other things, his painting Mona Lisa. The King gave Da Vinci a place where to live in Amboise, an area well known for its sumptuous ancient castles, and where Da Vinci died. That is the reason why the Mona Lisa is now exhibited in the Louvre museum in France

Traditional workers on the street in Paris, France. in 1911

Two jobs are displayed : a craftsman sharpening knives and another one carrying glasses on his back. In the 1950’s, from his childhood, Dr Chaoulli still remembers craftsmen entering into the courtyard surrounded by apartments built on several floors where he used to live with his parents in Paris, and hearing the shouting « vitrier, vitrier » which meant « glass installer, glass installer », offering their services for the replacement of any broken windows which were made out of glass. Nowadays, those jobs, like many others, have disappeared. Likewise, in the nineteenth century, a certain young man called Pierre-Auguste Renoir, then totally unknown, was a craftsman painting by hand on porcelains for his boss, until factories, built under the industrialization era, took over and led the young Renoir to lose his job. Renoir then turned to painting decorations in cafes, before starting a career making oil paintings on canvas.

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