Exhibition: Secrets of the Lacquer Buddha

Exhibition Dates: 9 December 2017 – 10 June 2018

Secrets of the Lacquer Buddha unites the only sixth- and seventh-century, life-size Chinese lacquer buddha sculptures known: one from the Walters Art Museum, one from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and one from the Freer Gallery of Art. They have never been exhibited together before.

The exhibition explores how the sculptures were made, giving new insights into these deceptively simple objects. It also highlights how science can contribute to understanding art. The Freer|Sackler Department of Conservation and Scientific Research’s experts used specialised equipment and new methods to analyse the sculptures, exposing microscopic details. Find out what tree species the lacquer came from, what type of burnt bone was mixed in, and other unexpected discoveries.

The amount of detailed background information given on the Freer|Sackler website is amazing. The essay by Donna Strahan and Blythe McCarthy on the construction of the buddha sculptures is particularly fascinating.

They discovered that pieces of wood wrapped in textiles which had been dipped in lacquer were used as a support inside some of the buddhas. The fibres from all four sculptures were identified by polarised light microscopy as bast fibres with crystalline nodes. The fibres’ colours further identified them as hemp when examined under polarised light.

A textile dated to between 1272 and 1284 also features in the essay on Lacquer, Relics, and Self-Mummification by Denise Patry Leidy.

For more information visit the website of the Freer|Sackler museum, Washington DC.

Advertisements

Event: Politics of Collecting Asia: 1800 – Present

 

Event date: 28 April 2018 10:00 – 16:30, London.

The global history of collecting has been profoundly shaped by national and international politics over the past two centuries. Taking geopolitics as its starting point, this symposium will examine the history of collecting Asian art objects in a range of geographical locales, from Britain and continental Europe to East and Southeast Asia.

Topics covered include Competition and Collaboration: Stamford Raffles and Collecting in Java, 1811-1816, The First Private Museum in China? Revisiting Pan Shicheng and His Collecting in Canton, and The Poetics and Politics of Collecting and Displaying Kachin Culture.

Online registration is essential for this SOAS School of Art event and further details can be found here

News: Spring-cleaning India’s Most Magnificent Tent

For those of you who might have missed it, Asian textiles got into the news last month when a royal Rajasthani tent was cleaned for the first time in over three hundred years. A totally unique textile, made in imperial workshops from red silk velvet and gold, unfurled it stands four metres high – as high as a London double-decker bus. It’s known as the Lal Dera, or the Shahi Lal Dera – the Royal Red Tent, and is believed to have been the home of Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal.

To read the article in full, visit the BBC website.

Event: OATG Visit to ‘Life and Sole – Footwear from the Islamic World’ at the British Museum

British Museum - Life and Sole, Footwear from the Islamic World (talks)

Event date: 27 April 2016, 1:30–2:30pm

Last chance to reserve a place! There are still 10 spaces left for this OATG event next week.

Join the OATG for a privileged tour of this wonderful exhibition of around 25 pairs of shoes, slippers, sandals, clogs and boots from North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, Central Asia and South Asia, shown together for the first time, with curator Fahmida Suleman and conservator Barbara Wills.

Meet at the British Museum at 1.20pm inside the entrance of the John Addis Gallery of the Islamic World (Room 34). Tour to begin at 1.30pm.

OATG members free, non-members £3. Coat check available at the museum for £1.50 per item. The exhibition is free and continues until 15 May 2016.

Please RVSP to the OATG events organisers (oatg.events@gmail.com) so that they have an idea of numbers attending in advance.

Textile Tidbits: Taming the Dragons on a Chinese Imperial Dragon Robe

CBL C 1051, detail

The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland, recently published a blog post all about the process of conserving a Chinese imperial dragon robe. It makes for fascinating reading, and includes lots of detailed photographs of the initial analysis of the textile and the subsequent conservation work involved.

Sir Alfred Chester Beatty collected eight Chinese dragon robes; it is thought that several came from the Forbidden Palace in Beijing. These magnificent robes were once worn by the emperors of the Qing Dynasty, 1644–1911, the last ruling dynasty of China. The robes tell a story of a vanished court life and were worn for important rituals as well as everyday occasions.

Over the last few years, a rolling programme of conservation has been undertaken to conserve all the dragon robes within the collection, to allow an annual rotation to coincide with the library’s celebration of the Chinese New Year. For anyone thinking of planning a visit, the dragon robe case is in the first floor ‘Arts of the Book’ exhibition gallery.

The blog focuses on the conservation of one of the three imperial yellow robes, which are of the highest quality yellow silk and feature exquisite embroidery.

To read more about this conservation work, visit the blog of the Chester Beatty Library conservation team.