The exhibit provides an overview of the ceramics produced by families at the Changsha Kilns during the Tang Dynasty more than one thousand years ago. The exhibit puts Tang ceramics into their historical, geographic, and cultural context. The Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 AD) was a time of peace, prosperity, and acceptance in China, during which Changsha ceramics and other goods were traded overland along the Silk Road and overseas to reach as far away as western Asia and Africa.
The exhibit features more than 100 ceramic objects from the MOA’s Lam Collection. A year ago, Wake Forest alumnus Timothy See-Yiu Lam (’60) donated to the Museum of Anthropology nearly 600 ceramic pieces that he collected over more than 25 years. The Tang Dynasty bowls, ewers, cups, teapots, small toys and other pieces in the collection represent the largest and most comprehensive group of ceramics from the Changsha Kilns in the United States. Some of the pieces in the collection are broken (but painstakingly repaired) because, due to slight flaws in shape or glazing, kiln inspectors discarded them by burying them in refuse piles which were then excavated by archaeologists in the 1960s and 1970s. Ironically, most of the pieces that passed inspection were sold, used and ultimately broken—meaning they can rarely be fully reconstructed.
During the Fall 2012 semester, Wake Forest student intern junior Yidan Fu worked with Museum Director Stephen Whittington to develop the exhibit. Yidan helped organize and analyze the hundreds of pieces in the Lam Collection. She also conducted research on Changsha ceramics in Chinese language texts and shared her insider’s view of Chinese culture, greatly contributing to the final exhibit. During the month of January, Whittington worked with Salem College student intern Victoria Smith to complete the final arrangement and installation of the exhibit.
Click here if you’d like to read more about the Lam’s gift to the Museum.