Over the coming months, astute visitors may notice some gallery changes that are not part of our regularly scheduled gallery rotations. This is because with Shanghai is up for an extended period, museum staff have an opportunity to rotate some of our less light sensitive objects, including bronzes, ceramics, and stone sculpture. This week we started by installing three new works in the South Asian and Chinese galleries.
First, newly on view in the South Asian galleries is a recently acquired silver bowl featuring scenes of Zoroastrian rulers. Made in a Burmese silver shop for a well-to-do Parsi family, this impressive bowl measures more than a foot in diameter and was meant for use in an annual ceremony honoring deceased relatives.
The events depicted on this bowl are well known in ancient Persian sculptures. Perhaps most notably, compare this bowl against the famous relief and inscription of Darius I located at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bisitun.
Also newly on view in the South Asian galleries is a metal plate displaying an elaborate floral decoration. This is an example of the “bidri ware” produced in south-central India using a complex casting, engraving, inlay, and chemical process.
Finally, In the Chinese galleries we just installed a ritual food vessel (gui) dating to the Western Zhou dynasty (1050-771 BCE). This particular vessel has a curious connection to Shanghai. According to curator Michael Knight:
“The inscription on this vessel tells us it was cast for someone named Zhui. A vessel of similar shape and also cast for Zhui appears in the 1892 hand scroll Illustrations of the Antique Collection of Kezhai, on display in the Shanghai special exhibition galleries on the first floor. There are at least four other vessels of the same shape with the same inscription, making it impossible to determine if the piece illustrated in the scroll and this one are the same.”
We’ve got lots more objects lined up! Keep an eye on this blog for news of additional gallery changes over the coming months.
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