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@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) Chinese Turkestan, Kashgar – Embroidered wild silk
(2) North American, 19th century (?) – Apron of coarse flannel, ornamented with Marginella labrosa shells (a West Indian species)

The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford was founded in 1884 when Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers (phew!), an influential figure in the development of archaeology and anthropology, gave his collection of almost 20,000 objects (gathered from all over the world and representing many cultures both past and present) to the University of Oxford. Since the museum’s inception the collection has continued to grow and now consists of over half a million objects. On entering the museum – a highly atmospheric, dimly lit maze of 19th century wood and glass display cabinets overflowing with objects – you’d be forgiven for thinking all half a million plus are currently on display (and apparently a very large percentage of the collection is on view. From the museum’s website: “In some instances the ‘displays’ are primarily visible storage, due to the museum being first and foremost a teaching and research institution”).

Objects are arranged according to how they were made or the purpose they served, rather than by cultural origin or age. This method of display, fairly unique amongst anthropological and archaeological museums, focuses the viewers’ attention on the skill & creativity with which people across the globe have tackled, and found solutions to, the common problems of daily life. In many ways this method of display serves to highlight our similarities rather than our differences, and makes for a very absorbing visit.

This is a small (and apparently entirely random!) selection of some of the pieces that caught my eye. I struggled to get any great shots in the dim light (set low to conserve the objects) and minimising reflections off the glass cases proved tricky, but I hope they’ll convey at least some sense of this fascinating collection… well worth a visit!

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) Sarawak, Borneo – Frame on which warp threads are strained and prepared for dyeing using the ikat technique. Groups of threads are bound at numerous points, which together form the required pattern. The bindings are made with fibre of lembah (curculigo). When dipped in dye, the bound parts remain undyed while the rest of the warp takes up the dye. After the bindings have been removed the warp will be put on a loom for weaving to produce the ikat cloth (and further dyeing stages may be required). The ikat technique is used widely, and in some regions the weft may also be dyed in a similar fashion (both warp and weft are dyed to produce double ikat)
(2) Salish, Haro Archipelago, Canada – Woven blanket (also used for wearing), probably made of dyed goat and dog’s hair

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) Chilkat, S.E. Alaska – Dance apron of deer skin, fringed & hung with puffins’ beaks & deer-hoofs; with textile designs representing the Bear
(2) the original, hand-written object labels are things of beauty in themselves…

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) West Africa – Ritual masquerade mask representing a god or ancestor
(2) Peshawar, W.Pakistan – Child’s shirt, cotton, silk, multicoloured embroidery, small pieces of inset mirror-glass

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1 & 2) Aleut/Unangan, Aleutian Islands, Alaska – Man’s parka made of seal intestine. The cuffs and hem feature a complex border of fourteen thin bands of parchment-like sealskin dyed red and black. These are overwoven with fine caribou-hair embroidery in geometric patterns. There are more than 20,000 embroidery stitches in the border alone.

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) one of the many ‘Magic, Ritual, Religion & Belief’ display cabinets
(2) Sussex, England – Silvered & stoppered bottle said to contain a witch, obtained about 1915 from an old lady living in a village near Hove, Sussex. She remarked “and they do say there be a witch in it, and if you let un out there’ll be a peck o’ trouble!”

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) Trophy human skulls (?)
(2) Milan(?), Italy – Portions of three packs of playing or tarot cards (?)

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) England & France – 17th Century keys
(2) Aurès Mountains, Algeria, Africa – Surgical instruments

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) Oceania (?) – Chest or forehead ornaments (kapkap), possibly 19th or early 20th century, turtle and tridacna shell (?)
(2) Japan – Noh theatre masks (the one in the middle is described as “representing a spirit in the form of a young boy”)

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1, back) Zulu, South Africa – cattle skin shield (isimbi)
(1, front) Swazi, Swaziland – miniature shield and spear (assegai),
carried by girls when dancing
(2) Inuit, Sisimiut, Western Greenland – Girl’s traditional outfit (detail), made by Haldora Davidsen 1991-92

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Information about each piece has been derived from the captions that accompany them in the museum (or from my digging through the Museum’s online collections database). Object labels were not always visible and I’ve included a (?) where I’m hazy on the details of specific objects.

Here are just a handful of the many and varied wonderful objects that caught my eye on a recent visit to the Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology in Oxford. I was particularly drawn to the beautiful, fragile remnants of cloth in the museum’s textile displays and (as you no doubt might’ve already guessed if you’ve visited here before) am always a sucker for anything incorporating creature-inspired representations.

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

of the water
(top) Makara, Mathura region (northern India), AD 350-450, terracotta plaque (The makara is an auspicious aquatic monster, symbolising water and fertility)
(bottom) Pottery rhyta (vessel for drinking or pouring offerings) in the form of a fish, Sasanian, AD 225-650, Iran

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

vessels
(top) Rounded clear glass flask, eastern Mediterranean?, AD 200-300 (?)
(middle) Tang dynasty (AD 618-906) ceramic containers
(bottom) A pewter dinner service from Appleford, c. AD 300-400 (This large service is made of pewter, an alloy of tin and lead [both metals mined by the Romans in south-west Britain]. Inscriptions on two of the plates and a written record suggest that this service was owned by people of Celtic origin who used Latin and enjoyed a Roman lifestyle. The tableware was hidden in a well when the Thames Valley became unstable in the last years of Roman occupation, about AD 400. Some of the plates were over 100 years old at the time of burial)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

this (modern) fabric was part of a display describing Japanese textile weaving and dyeing techniques that, surprisingly in a museum, was accompanied by a sign inviting the viewer to “Please Touch”. On turning the fabric over I was delighted to find this thickly layered web of threads on its reverse side – such order from such (apparent) chaos!

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

strikingly similar colour palettes, across time and place
(top) Portrait of a woman in a dress worked with flowers (detail), Cornelius Jonson (English, 1593-1661), after 1618, oil on panel
(bottom) Fragment of a large cloth, perhaps intended as a hanging, Roman, c.AD 300-400 (Woven in undyed linen, the cloth is decorated with tapestry wool bands of brightly coloured flowers and foliage)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

enigmatic gazes
(top) The Buddha, Gandhāra (now parts of Northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan), c.AD 200
(bottom) Statue of a bearded man, Wadi Bayhan, Yemen (ancient Kingdom of Qataban), calcite-alabaster, possibly 300 BC – AD 200
(Funerary statue. The large holes in the eyes contain traces of bitumen that once held shell inlays in place)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

spiritual discipline
(top) Head of an ascetic, Gandhāra, AD 300-400, unfired clay
(bottom) Hand and forearm of the Buddha (detail), Mathura, AD 100-200, sandstone

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

(gorgeous!) Ikat cloth, Central Asia (present-day Uzbekistan), 1800s – 1900s, silk (Derived from the Malay word mengikat [“to tie”], the term ikat defines a textile-patterning technique in which parts of the warp and/or weft are knotted to protect them from dye penetration. The careful planning of the dyeing process is the key to the realisation of the vibrant decorative patterns that characterise ikats)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

lacework
(top) The lacemaker (detail), Bernhard Keilhau (1624-1687), oil on canvas
(bottom) Sampler, 1660, England, silk on linen (whitework including cut work and pulled work, with needlepoint and needle-woven fillings, signed by the maker “Mary Parker 1660”)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

blooming
(top) Gentle Spring (detail), Frederick Sandys (1829-1904), oil on canvas
(bottom) Plate with carnations, roses and leaves imitating Iznik ceramics, Venice or Padua, c.1600-1650

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

more unexpected colour harmonies
(top) The Burn, November – the Cucullen Hills (detail), John William Inchbold (1830-1888), oil on canvas (The view from Sligachan, looking southwards over the Sligachan Burn towards the Cuillin Hills… in the autumn of 1855)
(bottom) Samurai helmet (ceremonial), Japan, 1560,
iron, lacquer, silk, gilt metal (?)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

feathered, antlered
(top)
zoomorphic brooches, bronze inlaid with coloured enamel,
Roman Period (Britain), AD 43 – 410 (?)
(bottom) Assyrian ‘winged genie’ relief; carved from ‘Mosul marble’ (gypsum), Nimrud, Iraq, Reign of Ashurnasirpal II, 883-859 BC

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Information about each piece has been derived from the captions that accompany them in the museum. A ‘(?)’ indicates that I’m unsure of the details… having failed to take a proper note of them at the time of viewing!

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Rainbow over Haarlem, shortly before last night’s big, beautiful thunderstorm arrived #rainbow #haarlem #storm_clouds_gathering #moody #sky #clouds #colour #summer #thunderstorm #dome #verdigris #cathedral #kathedralebasilieksintbavo #studio_view #rooftops #netherlands A very happy 54th wedding anniversary today to my magnificent Mum & my dashing Dad!
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#mum_and_dad #happy_anniversary #1960s #classic #style #1960shair #lookin_good #family #old_family_photos #sepia #black_and_white #patina Luminous jelly bells! Jellyfish silkscreen print detail…
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#screenprinting #silkscreen #serigraph #zeefdruk #screen_printing #printmaking #handmade #ink  #glow_in_the_dark #GID #phosphorescent #jellyfish #cnidarian #bells #marine_bioluminescence  #pattern #black #green #glow
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https://tinyurl.com/yclpowve I am indebted to the always inspiring artwork of 19th/early 20th Century German biologist Ernst Haeckel. These recent pop-up interpretations (by Maike Biederstädt) of various plates from Haeckel’s masterpiece ‘Art Forms in Nature’ (‘Kunstformen der Natur’, published between 1899 and 1904) are very cool! Swipe right to view ‘em all (six images in total). Japanese woodland spirit, Chibi Totoro, particularly likes the ‘forest’ of sea anemones (5th image :-)
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#ernst_haeckel #art_forms_in_nature #kunstformen_der_natur #biology #natural_history #marine_biology #sea_creatures #creatures_of_the_deep #octopus #octopus_vulgaris #red_starfish #asterias_rubens #acanthophractida #cyrtoidae #radiolaria #protozoa #sea_anemones #actinaria #chibi_totoro #popup #pop_up_book #maike_biederstädt #paper_engineering #prestel #pattern #texture #form #design
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‘Ernst Haeckel Creatures of the Deep: The Pop-up Book’, by Maike Biederstädt, published by Prestel August 2016 A couple of weeks ago, during a particularly stressful time, we were asked by our neighbours to kitten-sit while they were away for a few days... turns out kitten therapy was just what we needed #purrs 😺 Today I downloaded these pics off my SLR and thought I'd share 'em here... because everyone can do with a bit of kitten therapy in their lives! #kittens #kitten_therapy #grey #sansa #british_blue #black #jax (scroll right for Jax!) Summer solstice sundowner, 22h05, 21 June #summer_solstice #northern_hemisphere #sunset #sundowner #brouerijtij #beer #ijwit #thirst_quencher #sandy #beach #parnassia #north_sea #ocean #netherlands

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