SOAS University of London

Ancient Vessels: A Visual and Material History of Food and Drink in China

BATEA 130, Cizhou type stoneware yuhuchun shape vase, Yuan dynasty (1279 - 1368)

Date: 10 January 2020Time: 10:30 AM

Finishes: 21 March 2020Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Exhinition Rooms

Type of Event: Exhibition

SOAS’s Brunei Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition in partnership with the Museum of East Asian Art (MEAA), Bath that complements MEAA’s exciting new exhibition China on a Plate: A Visual and Material History of Food and Drink (23 November 2019 – 8 May 2020) focusing on the historical culture of Chinese food and drink. The exhibitions are the result of a joint research project between the Museum and SOAS University of London which will culminate in an international scholarly conference in March 2020.

A large percentage of objects within the MEAA’s collections were originally used as food or drinking vessels. In fact, many beautiful artefacts that are classified as Chinese ‘art’ were originally made for daily purposes and were not meant to be displayed in a museum or collected by enthusiasts as they are today. Both exhibitions aim to reconsider this by exploring the original functions and uses of these museum objects. The exhibits date from the later Neolithic period in China (c. 2000 BC) to the 19th century and are made from a wide range of materials, including jade, porcelain, lacquer, bronze and glass.

The SOAS exhibition presents the objects in eleven different but related themed sections, which reveal the blurred boundaries between food and medicine in Chinese culture, the importance of vessels in religious and ritual practices, food and drink in burial traditions, the different vessels used for wine and tea consumption as well as the special designs and decorations on food and drink vessels which often relate to art and visual culture.

Through these new interpretations of the objects, visitors will be able to explore historical Chinese material culture from a fresh perspective and gain an insight into the material world of food and drink in China before the 20th century.

Sample images from the exhibition