The aim of the Société des Amis du Musée Cernuschi, which was founded in 1922 and registered as an institution in the public interest since 1986, is to enrich the museum collections and to enhance knowledge of the arts and cultures of Asia.

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The Société des Amis: a pioneering body for the Asian artists of Paris

The Société des Amis du Musée Cernuschi (Society of Friends of the Musée Cernuschi) was founded in 1922 by the museum’s first director, Henri d’Ardenne de Tizac. Its gift, in 1925, of a large low relief from the Later (Eastern) Han (AD 25-220), was the first in a long, uninterrupted series to this day.

Members of the Société des Amis are lovers and collectors of the Asian arts, who gather for conferences, tours, cultural trips and an annual dinner.

Its vocation being to enrich the museum collections and to contribute to its development, the Société des Amis du Musée Cernuschi also welcomes corporate members who are interested in cultural exchange as the basis for a durable economic relationship.

Registered as an institution in the public interest since 24 September 1986, the association can offer a tax rebate for all gifts of money, including the annual membership fees.

A generous subscription for the acquisition of a gilt bronze bear from Han period

The Société des Amis presented Gilles Béguin on his retirement with a gilt bronze bear dating from the Han dynasty, in recognition of his services as director of the Cernuschi Museum. A special subscription was organised for the purpose. The museum thanks the corporate sponsors and many Asian art lovers without whom this acquisition would not have been possible.

The bear is depicted in an asymmetrical atlas position. A cavity in the back containing a horizontal pin indicates the function of this bronze as a base, although we do not know what kind of object it might have supported. The figure of the bear is associated with immortality and is a characteristic decorative element in funerary objects of the Han period, under the reign of the emperor Wudi (140 – 87 BCE). The bear motif was used at the time in supportive elements, as in the famous ding with its bear-shaped feet found in the tomb of Liu Sheng in Mancheng. This function endured under the Eastern Han dynasty, as illustrated by the gilt bronze zun dating from the 21st year of Emperor Guangwu’s rule (AD 45), in the Palace Museum, Beijing. While the position of the Cernuschi Museum bronze bear is similar to this zun, in terms of the feet, it nevertheless differs in its lack of incrustations, which suggests that it dates from an earlier period. Its exceptionally large size also makes it stand out among the collections of Western Asian art museums.

In accordance with the government's guidelines, the Cernuschi Museum is temporarily closed.