Monthly Archive: December Worl
Glass is probably the most fluid of solids. Looking at blown glass, such as that in the ROM's Chihuly exhibition, is like watching movement made still. If you look carefully at the handles of the perfectly preserved handles of this Roman glass vase from Syria (above), it looks as though it is still a fluid, still dynamically moving along its flow. In a way, that is because it is. Glass essentially has the atomic structure of a fluid, but it has been so rapidly cooled that it is essentially stuck in that condition.
The Japanese art collection at the ROM includes approximately 10,000 objects: it is the largest collection of the kind in Canada. The largest number of Japanese items is from the Edo period (1601-1868). Among them are lacquer works, such as incense containers and writing boxes beautifully decorated with gold leaf, which would have embellished people’s everyday lives. “Samurai art,” such as armour, helmets, saddles, spears, and tsuba (sword guards), some of which date from before the Edo period, is also represented.
Since 2004 I had walked the Qalamoun mountains around the monastery of Deir Mar Musa looking for archaeological features to record. In all that time I found one lithic, a stone tool from humanity’s prehistoric past. My colleagues back home that specialised in these objects would say that I just didn’t know what I was looking for. In the last days of the 2009 season, what turned out to be my last season at the monastery, I thought I would reconnoitre the southern part of the field area.
During the recent Hero-themed Friday Night Live at the ROM, I brought out examples of popular prints from the collection that explored different hero tropes in South Asian culture. Here are some of them. About a hundred year ago, mass produced colour lithographs proliferated across the South Asian subcontinent creating new imaginary communities through a shared visual imagery. In this new kind of visual culture, hero images seemed to flip traditional gender roles by being dominated by warrior females and pacifist males.
Written by Aruna Panday, Ph.D Candidate York University, Co-Chair Friends of South Asia Committee, and ROM curatorial intern.
Bagh nakh (tiger-claw weapon), lacquered steel, India, 19th century, ROM 913.10.28
Probably on October 24th in 79 AD a large group of people congregated on the beach at the seaside town of Herculaneum, in Italy. They were presumably trying to take ship to gain distance from Mount Vesuvius, which had been raining ash and rocks on the city, and the neighbouring town of Pompeii, all day. But suddenly, a massive cloud of red-hot ash swept down from the volcano directly towards Herculaneum. Studies of the skeletons on the beach show that they were mostly males, with women and children huddling in boathouses by the shore. One man in particular was a soldier.
Sophia Chowdhury (far right) with her sister Meena (second in from left) and the next generation: Aneesa (far left), Zakary (centre), and baby Anarah. In the ROM’s curatorial area with the dagger, August, 14 2014. Photo Deepali Dewan, posted with permission of the family.