Museum to display Silk Road artifacts

By By John Collins

By John Collins

The famed Silk Road refers to massive network of trade routes that stretched from China to eastern Europe during a 1,500-year period. As dynasties rose and fell, caravans crossed the Taklimakan Desert and frozen mountains to meet a growing demand for exotic goods in countries to the west. The Utah Musuem of Fine Arts is featuring a collection of artifacts that highlight the changes that art, culture and religion experienced throughout the centuries along the legendary trade route. Entry is free for students.

About 4,000 years of prosperity and stability in ancient China paved the way for a skilled class of artisans. In this new exhibit, intricate ivory carvings and delicately painted porcelain are alongside equally impressive wooden carvings from palaces in India and ornate depictions of Hindi gods. An emperor and empress carved from elephant bone sit on thrones of dragons and birds in precise detail.

The passage of time and distance is represented in the display. The “ritualistic libation vessel,” an early bronze piece dating back to the Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 B.C.) is alongside an Imperial Cong Vase from the late 19th century Guangxu period. Himalayan relics offer glimpses into the spirituality of the people who constructed them.

The museum is planning to incorporate a Silk Road companion program as well as a Chinese New Year celebration in February. The exhibit is scheduled to run through April. Information about UMFA hours and the upcoming lecture series can be found online at www.umfa.utah.edu.

[email protected]