I spent a couple glorious days in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London this week. I had two research directions, though related, planned that I for this trip. I wanted to see the small collection of ceramics, mostly parts of small terra cotta figures and some shards, from the Stein collection.
The re-discovery of the Silk Road is considered by many as on of the one of the important achievements of modern archaeology and Sir Aurel Stein was prominent among those who researched the area. After my trip to China’s Silk Road the summer of 2013, I became fascinated by his travel and discoveries. He also did a considerable amount of what I consider “pillaging” of important manuscripts he “discovered” in the library cave at the Mogao Grottoes, Dunhuang. I am not sure where I am going with this, but I feel a bit like a detective at the moment.
Of course, the Silk Road is related to trade from China in silk, spices, and ceramics, in particular from Jingdezhen. Export ware and the fascination in Europe with Chinese porcelain has been an important research thread for me. The V&A Ceramics gallery on World Ceramics details the routes and has visible proof that there was a great deal of back and forth and influence going on in the world, related to ceramic styles and techniques. This idea of connections fascinates me.
The Ceramics Galleries take up most of the 6th floor and includes 26,500 objects presented glass storage displays, with some rooms, literally floor to high ceiling.
Ceramics is also an important aspect of many of the other galleries, such as the Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Islamic Galleries. I cannot express in words the feeling of being around so many wonderful ceramics objects in one place. It is a thrill!