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The heritage that forms the core of the permanent Museu do Oriente exhibition is fundamentally divided up into two main collections:

The first collection, alluding to the Portuguese presence in Asia includes over a thousand artistic and documental pieces resulting from acquisitions carried out by the Fundação Oriente practically ever since its foundation in both national and international art markets. It contains various pieces of exceptional value such as the range of 17th and 18th century Chinese and Japanese folding screens, various examples of highly rare Namban art, a Company of Indies porcelain collection or the significant collection dealing with the cultures of the peoples of Timor.

The second collection, the Kwok On Collection, resulting from the 1999 donation by the Association do Musée Kwok on, Paris, has over 13,000 pieces related to the performing arts of a geographic area extending from Turkey right across to Japan and to the great narratives and popular religions as well. A special highlight is the nucleus of pieces related to the rituals of Hinduism and to the different aspects of Bhudism, according to the country where it is practised, or even to animist religions or xamanic cults. An important collection of masks from all around Asia, and shadow and puppet theatres from India, China and Indonesia, must also be emphasized.

This collection has increased along several decades by means of local missions to regions of Asia where such social and cultural practises are still alive. Such missions proceed on an annual basis in order to fill eventual gaps or prevent the collection’s crystallization and outdating.

The Kwok On collection, considered the top of its genre at a European scale, includes items of a remarkable quality and great impact. A great deal of pieces comes from remote times, part of them being unique or very rare, when compared to others on display at important museums.