University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Secrets of the Silk Road

June 4, 2010

I got my first look at the “Secrets of the Silk Road” exhibition now at the Bowers Museum and it looked great!

The show opens at the Penn Museum on February 5, 2011 so mark your calendars.   I took the audio tour which was included with the price and well worth a listen.  I particularly enjoyed the parts where Victor Mair gave insight into some of the pieces on display.  You could tell he was excited to talk about the show. He has an article about the textiles in the  exhibit in the May issue of Orientations.   The textiles are particularly interesting because  the designs on the burial clothes  can be found throughout Eurasia and the western world.  These signs and motifs give us clues about who was in direct contact with the people at the site of Xiaohe.

I was also struck by the food items included in the show.  They looked like something you would find in a sweet shop today.  It was a nice touch that helped to bring the artifacts into perspective:  these were real people with real concerns for their afterlife affairs.  How they prepared for that journey and what they chose to include in the coffin is an interesting peak into their world view and can even shed some light on our own.  There was a little bit of something here for everyone.  From sculpture and textiles, to jewelry, baskets, food, coins, and amulets  I think  most visitors will have that same  “aha moment” that I did.   I’m excited about the possibilities for programming and bringing in as many new visitors to the museum as we can.  Hopefully they will check out the rest of the museum and learn about how much depth there is to our collection.

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