Exhibition: From Kabul to Kolkata – Of Belonging, Memories and Identity

 

 

Exhibition dates: 11 October – 15 December 2018 (Closed Sundays and Mondays)

Afghans have travelled to India for centuries but it was in 1892 that they were given a romantic, and lasting identity. This link was set into history when India’s most famous modern poet and one of its greatest cultural icons, Rabindranath Tagore, penned his short story about the Kabuliwala or man from Kabul.

This exhibition of photographs by Moska Najib and Nazes Afroz concerns a specific intra-Asian connection between Afghans and Indians that highlights larger historical patterns of trans-Asian migration, cultural resilience and transformation, and shifting senses of self, community and home.

While until a few decades ago, real Kabuliwalas were a common sight on the streets of Kolkata, as in most cities of north and central India, today stereotypes and standard attributes have formed an ambiguous image of these people. Moska Najib, an Afghan by origin but living in India for most of her life, says, ‘Being away from my homeland, I’ve been always drawn to the themes of identity and new belonging. This inspired me to photograph one of the oldest settled Afghan communities in India in modern times.”

More information about the project, including a short video, can be found on the From Kabul to Kolkata website. If you click on the “More” link at the top, you can access further background information. Moska describes how during their first encounter with the community, they realised that they kept a dual existence – one inside their home and one outside. In their abode, they’d wear their traditional attire and follow the typical customs observed in Afghanistan – the habit of sitting on the carpet and not on sofas or chairs, sharing a communal meal from the same platter, using the spittoons and drinking endless cups of green tea.

For more information about the exhibition visit the website of the Brunei Gallery

Location: Brunei Gallery Exhibition Rooms at SOAS, 10 Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H  0XG

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Exhibition: Empire of the Sikhs

 

Exhibition dates: 12 July – 23 September 2018

This major free exhibition telling the story of the last great native kingdom which challenged the British for supremacy of the Indian subcontinent opens today. The Sikh Empire (1799–1849), which spanned much of modern day Pakistan and northwest India, was forged by the ‘Napoleon of the East’ Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780–1839) who became known as Sher-e-Punjab, the Lion of Punjab, over his forty-year reign.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh established a powerful military meritocracy that included many European officers. His empire offered a crucial buffer state between the British and incursions via the Khyber Pass. The one-eyed king was a trusted ally of the British but also a potentially formidable opponent.

The inevitable clash with the British came in the form of two bitterly fought Anglo-Sikh Wars (1845–46, 1848–49) in which British pre-eminence hung in the balance as they came within hours of a total surrender. But through treachery, victory was turned into defeat for the Sikhs whose territories, treasury and fighting men became incorporated into British dominion.

A source of great interest to British visitors to the Sikh royal court prior to annexation was the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which was wrested from Afghan hands in 1813. The fabled jewel was eventually presented to Queen Victoria on 3 July 1850 in the armlet that Ranjit Singh had specially made for it. Fitted with a rock crystal replica of the original, uncut Koh-i-Noor, it is now preserved as part of the Royal Collection and will be one of the highlights on display along with a stunning array of over 100 objects and works of art from leading private and public collections.

Among them will be glittering jewellery and weaponry from the Sikh Empire including personal items that belonged to Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the most famous of his thirty ‘official’ wives, Maharani Jind Kaur. They were the parents of the deposed boy-king Maharaja Duleep Singh and grandparents to prominent suffragette (and goddaughter to Queen Victoria), Princess Sophia Duleep Singh.

For more information visit the website of the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London.

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

Exhibition: Embroidered Tales and Woven Dreams

brunei-gallery-embroidered-tales-and-woven-dreams

Exhibition dates: 19 January – 25 March 2017

The exhibition Embroidered Tales and Woven Dreams is a colour-coded social history of the vast and geographically varied landscape known as the Silk Road (or originally the ‘Seidenstrasse’, a name given to this road by the German explorer Richthofen), which stretches from Central Asia to Western Europe. Its regional history will be explored through the embroidered tales and woven textiles of the communities who lived north and south of this ancient trade corridor across Asia.

The textiles on display have recorded a wonderful vernacular art, as embroidered tales, told by women storytellers, who were guardians of their customs and traditions for their individual tribes, castes and communities.

This exhibition, with a series of related lectures by internationally renowned lecturers, will examine the immensely rich, culturally fascinating identity of the Central Asian, Middle Eastern and South Asian landscapes, through the heritage of their embroidered textiles and costumes. It is a rich seam of historical material, meticulously embroidered and woven.

While the Silk Road, as a concept, refers to an area that underwent a thousand years of turbulent history, the physical links were comprised of smaller land routes, often through difficult terrain, and passable only by specialised trade caravans.

The northern ‘–stans’ of the Uzbeks, Kyrghiz, Tajiks, Turcoman and Khazaks exchanged goods with distant neighbours in Afghanistan and northern India, and, depending upon varying political arrangements, the even more distant powers of South Asia, Persia, Byzantium, Russia and China.

The exhibition will briefly examine the political upheavals that destroyed the lives of these communities and their nomadic, semi-nomadic and settled lifestyles.

For more information, visit the website of the Brunei Gallery, London, UK.

Exhibition: World Ikat Textiles – Ties That Bind

Brunei Gallery - World Ikat Textiles

Exhibition dates: 15 April – 25 June 2016

This exhibition celebrates the rich legacy of ikat, an age-old textile technique stretching across the continents of the world. This unique collection brings together an array of priceless pieces of ikat textiles with live demonstrations by master weavers, a symposium, film screenings and a book display. This program reflects the World Crafts Council’s global commitment to nurture, promote and revive precious indigenous craft skills. It also serves to connect the skilled practitioners from across these diverse regions to contemporary society and promote greater awareness of the handwoven tradition and its innovation.

There is also a series of events scheduled in relation to this exhibition:
· Thursday 14 April: Opening of exhibition with focal lobby display on ‘mud-mee’ ikat textiles of Thailand
· Friday 13 May: Focal lobby display changes to Indian ikat textiles.
· Saturday 14 & Sunday 15 May: Symposium ‘Ikat Textiles Ties That Bind (Past, Present and Future)’
· Thursday 9 June: Focal lobby display changes to Central Asian ikat textiles with supporting event.

For more information, visit the website of the Brunei Gallery, London.

Event: Scott Redford Talks about Medieval Anatolian Animal Carpets and Seljuk Art for ORTS

ORTS - Medieval Anatolian Animal Carpets

Event date: Wednesday 23 March 2016, 7pm

This is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event.

Scott Redford, Nasser D. Khalili Professor of Islamic Art & Archaeology at SOAS, will give a lecture on medieval Anatolian animal carpets and Seljuk art. Scott has published widely on the art, archaeology and architecture of medieval Anatolia and the eastern Mediterranean.

The talk will be held at St James Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL.

The Conference Room entrance is in the Church Place passageway, which runs between Jermyn Street and Piccadilly.  There is a wrought iron gate signed ‘Church Hall Conference Room’ leading downstairs.  Drinks and snacks will be served.

Piccadilly Circus tube is 5 minutes’ walk, and Green Park Tube is 10 minutes’ walk.  There is free parking in St James Square after 6.30pm.

Please note this is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event, but non-members are welcome to attend: £7 single lecture, £5 students, or choose £20 for one year’s membership (11 events).

For more information, visit the website of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society.