RITE & RITUAL – Ceremonial Art across Cultures focuses on the beauty and meaning of objects used for familial, tribal and community events in traditional cultures: birth, childhood, initiation, marriage, death and festivals and in various religious expressions among the world’s peoples: Shamanism, Shinto, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism.

Mingei means “art of the people” and invites the viewer to discover beauty in the commonplace, the daily, the useful. This exhibition is rooted in the useful, but the objects featured here reach a step beyond the ordinary into the realm of tribal, societal and civic rituals and ceremonies. Among them are imposing masks and dance drums and rattles from Africa feathered festival head-dresses from Brazil, ceremonial tools, a ceremonial stone chair and an exquisite ceremonial dagger of carved wood and worked metal.

Visitors will be greeted by two painted and gilded guardian figures from Bali. They’ll find a monumental clay horse from southern India, a five-tiered Peruvian retablo with at least 1000 figures depicting a Holy Week procession and a Chinese temple drum. Among the objects used for family rituals are five dowry chests and a nineteenth century American crazy quilt. Another family rite is displayed in the Museum’s windows — a papier maché Mithila wedding party from India’s Bihar state. A nineteenth century American memorial wreath, fashioned from human hair is also on display. The diverse objects gathered for the exhibition are vital creative expressions from many cultures. Their beauty and power can delight, intrigue and awe. These objects invite viewers to look with fresh eyes at their daily routines; at the major and minor ceremonies and rituals in their lives; and at the objects they use for them.

Designer: Jerry Maloney


On View: Sep 10, 2009 - Jun 26, 2010

Curator: Rob Sidner

More Exhibitions



Recycled and Embroidered Textiles of Bengal

Featuring approximately 40 kantha (decorative stitched quilting made from recycled sari) from the Museum's permanent collection.

October 28, 2017 - March 25, 2018Closes soon


Weaving a Path

Navajo Women and the Feminine Ethos

December 9, 2017 - May 20, 2018


Voluminous Art

Treasures from San Diego's University Libraries

March 10, 2018 - September 3, 2018



70 Years of Craft & Design

April 21, 2018 - September 3, 2018Opens soon