Silk Road leads from Uzbekistan to London for landmark exhibition

Trending 6 days ago

A monumental six-metre-long wall coating created successful nan 7th century, and 8th-century ivory figures carved for 1 of nan world’s oldest surviving chess sets, are among treasures group to beryllium seen successful Britain for nan first time.

The items will recreation from nan ancient metropolis of Samarkand to nan UK for an exhibition opening successful September, arsenic portion of nan first-ever indebtedness from museums successful Uzbekistan to nan British Museum.

Silk Roads, a groundbreaking accumulation spanning AD500 to 1000, will spell beyond nan celebrated image of waste and acquisition betwixt eastbound and west, pinch camel caravans and merchants trading silks and spices successful bazaars, to research connections betwixt cultures and continents, hundreds of years earlier nan improvement of today’s globalised world.

It will show that, alternatively than a azygous waste and acquisition route, location were overlapping networks linking communities crossed Asia, Africa and Europe. More than 300 objects will see loans from 29 nationalist and world institutions, galore connected show successful nan UK for nan first time. Tickets for nan exhibition, which runs until February, spell connected waste connected Monday.

Yu-ping Luk, 1 of nan lead curators of nan show, said: “We will of people person camels, and location will beryllium silk and references to camel caravans that are besides a very important portion of nan Silk Roads. But we wanted to spell beyond that and show a richer communicative of nan networks successful aggregate directions, not conscionable east-west but north-south and elsewhere, and besides nan activity of objects, peoples and ideas.”

The six-metre wall painting, a vibrant depiction of a convoy of group riding camels, horses and an elephant, is from nan “Hall of nan Ambassadors” successful Samarkand. Dating from nan 660s and portion of a bid excavated successful nan 1960s, it is an unparalleled illustration of creation created by nan region’s ancient Sogdians, who were awesome traders. Its title derives from its portrayal of peoples of different origins, from neighbouring regions and arsenic acold arsenic nan Korean peninsula, who were coming to Samarkand to trade.

Luk, nan British Museum’s curator of Chinese paintings, prints and cardinal Asian collections, said it shows nan cosmopolitanism of nan Sogdians: “We’re really excited to beryllium capable to get it and show it for nan first clip successful nan UK.”

She said Silk Road traders are sometimes depicted arsenic “peddlers aliases small-scale merchants”. “But present is an image from their homeland that shows them having prospered from their trade.”

Group of 8th-century ivory figures from 1 of nan world’s oldest chess sets.
Group of 8th-century ivory figures from 1 of nan world’s oldest chess sets. Photograph: © ACDF of Uzbekistan, Samarkand State Museum Reserve

The 8th-century ivory carvings are 7 chess group pieces which person survived. Luk said: “They are among nan earliest – if not nan earliest – chess pieces known successful nan world. They were excavated from a tract successful Samarkand and are thought to day from nan 700s. The figures correspond portion of an army. There are ft soldiers, equine riders, group riding chariots, an elephant rider. Ivory was a luxury commodity astatine nan time, which indicates that this group was a high-value object.

“When chess was first developed successful India astir AD500, earlier spreading to nan Middle East and Europe, it was a crippled for training subject strategy among nan elite. This is simply a awesome illustration of how, during nan play we’re covering successful nan exhibition, each these networks and connections person a bequest to nan modern period, erstwhile chess arsenic a crippled is spreading.”

skip past newsletter promotion

Due to its scope and geographical coverage, nan accumulation will characteristic objects from each section crossed nan British Museum, including Indian garnets discovered successful Suffolk and Chinese ceramics recovered successful Egypt, reflecting nan astonishing scope of nan Silk Road networks.

Exhibits will besides see a gilded instrumentality that astir apt held chrism, a blended lipid utilized successful Christian rituals specified arsenic baptism, which was often scented pinch balsam, a valuable works resin from nan eastbound Mediterranean aliases Arabia. In nan AD720s, tight export controls inspired an English bishop called Willibald to smuggle it past Umayyad customs officials astatine Tyre successful present-day Lebanon. He concealed nan balsam successful a hollowed-out gourd beneath a furniture of mineral oil, which masked its unique fragrance.

Sue Brunning, curator of European early medieval and Sutton Hoo collections, said: “It’s tremendously breathtaking to grow nan Silk Roads communicative into parts of nan world that are not traditionally associated pinch its celebrated image – including present successful Britain.

“For instance, visitors will brushwood a whalebone container made successful nan north-east of England but carved pinch stories, histories and languages drawn from nan wider world.”

Source theguardian