On the Silk Road and High Seas: Chinese Ceramics, Culture and Commerce at the Crow Collection of Asian Art is composed of 73 extraordinary works art that illustrate the influence of trade along the infamous Silk Road, a complex network of routes linking East Asia with Central Asia, South Asia and Europe.
On display in chronological order, visitors enjoy an artistic journey that spans over 2,000 years of history. A gorgeous earthenware tomb figure from the Tang dynasty (618-906) depicts a female polo player dressed in men’s riding clothes. The position of the figure’s arm sets the flow of action, indicating that the woman is leaning over to strike a ball with the polo mallet as her horse is forever suspended in a flying gallop. This figure shows that some Chinese women of the time period were fortunate to experience freedom and some equality alongside men. In the subsequent Song Dynasty, there was a return to Confucian values and Chinese women were once again segregated from male society.
During the Northern Song period (960-1126) many ceramic pillows were produced and, due to their durability, have lasted longer than other types of pillows made during that time period. A note to their practicality, porcelain pillows offered refreshing coolness during hot weather. The design on this headrest is of boys frolicking amongst peonies, indicating that it may have been utilized by a son of high status.
This exhibition illustrates the many artistic influences on art and culture by trade along the Silk Road. A stunning porcelain bottle with cobalt blue and white kraak decoration was probably made for Portuguese export during the Ming dynasty, early 17th century. A fashionable porcelain peacock blue fish vase, from the Qing dynasty, Jiaqing regin (1796-1820) was recorded to have been sold to Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV.
Do not forego an up close and personal viewing of this superb collection of Chinese ceramics, winding through two levels of the Crow Collection. On the Silk Road and the High Seas: Chinese Ceramics, Culture and Commerce explores why Chinese ceramics were prized commodities, both at home and abroad.
I am really looking forward to learning more about the history of these works during a special a visit from, Laurie Barnes Curator of Chinese Art from the Norton Museum of Art, who organized the exhibition and will speak at a member’s reception.
Unlike previous stops on this traveling exhibition’s journey, admission during regular hours is free! For more information, visit crowcollection.org.