Encompassing thousands of islands and mainland topographies between India, Australia, and China, Southeast Asia has been at the center of long-distance trade networks for centuries. Accordingly, Southeast Asian artworks feature innovative forms that blend local and imported traditions. The region’s art is also deeply connected with the tropical environment. Nature informs everything from the materials used to the imagery portrayed.
Thousands of sacred sites can be found across the region. Their structures range from caves and simple shrines to vast temple complexes. Like the artworks they hold, the sites are positioned in relation to natural features, such as rivers and volcanoes.
Comprising close to nine hundred objects, the Freer and Sackler’s Southeast Asia collections range from Buddhist and Hindu sculpture in stone and bronze to gold jewelry and ceramics from Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma). Below, you can browse our objects, explore Southeast Asia’s sacred sites, and delve into the region’s vibrant material cultures.