SOAS University of London

'Arts of the Mongol World' exhibition in preparation at the Royal Academy of Arts

28 June 2022

Delays due to the pandemic are over and an exhibition with the working title 'Arts of the Mongol World' is now formally underway after the show's proposal received its final approval from the Royal Academy of Arts' Exhibitions Committee on 25th May 2022. The project has been led by Shane McCausland (Head of the SOAS School of Arts) with fellow curators Sussan Babaie (Courtauld Institute of Art) and Adrian Locke and Rebecca Bray (Royal Academy of Arts) since its inception in summer 2019. The exhibition now awaits assignment of a gallery slot, most likely in the Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries in the 2026-27 season.

Arts of the Mongol World exhibition curators

The show explores the inter-cultural world of art and artists under the 'Great Mongol State', the Mongol imperial formation which grew from its foundation by Chinggis (or Genghis) Khan in 1206 into the largest contiguous land empire in world history. Spanning the Eurasian continent over the 13th-14th centuries -- east to west from the shores of Japan to Vienna and north to south from Mongolia to Java -- the Mongol world has long been a source of wonder through the accounts of travellers like the Moroccan scholar Ibn Battuta and the Venetian merchant Marco Polo.

Featuring superb quality artworks in media from Chinese picture-scrolls to Persian and European illuminated manuscripts and from blue-and-white ceramics to metalware and silks, the exhibition will in its interpretation through a post-nationalist lens reconsider the complex role of the Mongol khans and their elites in the production and consumption of arts between continental royal courts and the local cultures incorporated into the Mongol khanates. It will also explore issues of colonialism and empire associated with this powerful and vast but ultimately short-lived Mongol polity in Eurasia.