Museum Volkenkunde Leiden: Regular exhibits

I bought a ticket at the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden for the Cool Japan exhibit, but with that ticket, you can also visit the rest of the museum. I am always a person who likes to get my money's worth, so I walked through the whole museum. I went faster through the areas that gave me the creeps (funeral rituals) and stayed longer at certain places to admire the beautiful pieces of history. I don't want to spoil the fun for you by showing you everything, but I will share some of my favorite pictures that I had taken in several of the exhibit halls, named after countries and continents. 


When you want to go to the Cool Japan exhibit, you need to pass through the "Indonesia" exhibit hall and there, you can find beautiful jewelry, golden boxes, magical kris weapons, and scary statues.

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden Indonesia golden boxes

The museum has three floors:
- Basement. Wereld Lab with an atelier and game area for the Wereld Club, cloakroom and lockers for your belongings, and toilets.
- Ground floor. The temporary exhibit area (currently, the Cool Japan exhibit), the exhibit halls (Indonesia, Asia, and Africa), the museum lounge and cafe, ticket counter and the gift shop. 
- First floor. The exhibit halls (Mid- and South-America, the North Pole and North America, Japan and Korea, China, and Oceania), the Buddha room, Kleine zaal, Grote zaal, and Kabinet.   

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden Indonesia jewelry


In the "China" exhibit hall, you can find this beautiful, black costume of a low rank government official with a gold stamp on the chest. Underneath, you can see a fan shaped tile with a painting of the production of silk, derived from the 御製耕織圖 (Imperially Commissioned Illustrations of Agriculture and Sericulture). The main piece of the exhibition hall, is a large golden statue called the Mountain of immortals, which I had taken a picture of, but I will leave that for yourself to see in person. 

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden China costume ancient government official
Museum Volkenkunde Leiden China tile painting

Japan and Korea

If you haven't had enough of all the warriors in the Cool Japan exhibit, there is another samurai costume in the "Japan and Korea" exhibit hall.

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden Japan and Korea samurai costume

There is also this beautiful, Japanese stationery box with gold cherry blossom trees, two combs, and a hair pin.

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden Japan and Korea combs drawer

This is a Japanese porcelain plate, dating from 1880-1883.

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden Japan and Korea plate painted

This Korean set of armor and helmet is said to be from a high ranking officer and it is rare that it has been kept in such great condition. 

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden Japan and Korea costume soldier

I just love lacquered boxes, so I had to take a picture of every lacquered box that I came across in the museum. This Korean cabinet, decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay, used to contain the munbang sau (文房四友). Literally translated, it means the four friends of the study room, and they are the ink sticks, the ink stone, brushes, and paper. It is funny, because in Chinese, we call them 文房四寶, the four treasures of the study room. 

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden Japan and Korea decorated box
The cabinet underneath - also beautifully decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay - was used to keep thread or cloth materials.

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden Japan and Korea  decorated boxes
Museum Volkenkunde Leiden Japan and Korea decorated cabinet box drawer doors

I looked at these items for a very long time and I just couldn't figure out what they were for. After looking on the museum website, I found out that they were used to roll up thread. I was surprised that even though they all have different sizes and shapes, they were all used for the same purpose.

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden Japan and Korea decorated items

The Korean mother-of-pearl inlay technique is especially masterfully showcased in this plate.

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden Japan and Korea decorated plate

North Pole and North-America

These wooden Kachinas dolls are really adorable. Some of their facial expressions actually remind me of Japanese manga characters. Kachina are ghosts who intermediate between humans and gods. They can bring sunshine and rain, help the good, and punish the bad. 

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden North Pole and North America wooden dolls
Museum Volkenkunde Leiden North Pole and North America wooden dolls funny expressions

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