Behind-the-Scenes Update on Secrets of the Silk Road

Only a couple more days until the Secrets of the Silk Road exhibition opens to the public. We are working fast and furiously to make sure everything is in its place.

Our designers converse about the placement of the glass back lit floor to be installed. Text panels lean against the walls and open exhibit furniture awaits objects to be installed.

Our text panels arrived today as well as the glass that will create a back lit picture floor to hold the real star and secret of our exhibition - the Beauty of Xiaohe. Xiaohe Mudi (Small River Cemetery) is an incredibly rich archaeological site which many of the objects in the exhibition originate from. The female mummy (c. 2000 BC) is truly beautiful with flowing long red hair and eyelashes, not to mention amazing bone structure. Her bead bracelet, basket filled with wheat, practical and stylish felted wool hat with feather and fur details, and woolen cloak are evidence of the detailed attention of the burial customs of these ancient but unknown people. She and the other objects in the exhibition help to redefine how scholars understand the peopling of Central Asia and reveal that the East and West were in contact far earlier than thought. It is an incredible experience to have her and the exhibition here at the Bowers.

Making notations on the condition of the Beauty of Xiaohe at the Xinjiang Archaeological Institute in Urumqi.

The Beauty of Xiaohe could never have imagined that she would travel as far as the United States where she will go on to visit and be seen at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and The Penn Museum in Philadelphia. Certainly she could never have imagined the media coverage she has received on national and local radio, television and Internet sites. You can see Diane Sawyer talk about the exhibition tomorrow night on ABC.

The Beauty of Xiaohe recently uncrated in the gallery is filmed and photographed by national press.

In the image below our designer can be seen working with a Chinese courier from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum to make sure objects are secured in their display case before being sealed. On the back wall on the left is a bill of sale for a female slave named Upach from Turkestan. Written in the Sogdian language (a Middle Iranian language) around the 7th Century AD, the script is visually beautiful and the contents are culturally important. On the right, a painting on silk screen from the the same time period depicts a female dancer (the other half of the painting once showed a female musician - only her shoes remain). Silk screen paintings that depict women in daily life are incredibly rare finds - this is the oldest silk painting depicting women's lives ever to be found in China.

Final touches to the exhibit are made by our designer and Chinese representative.

We are looking forward to seeing you here at the Bowers. Don't forget you may follow this link or visit our website to purchase tickets ahead of time on our website.

All text and images under copyright. Please contact the Collection Department for permission to use.

Whole Cloth or Linsey-Woolsey Quilt
Silk Road Curator's Update
 

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Saturday, 23 October 2021

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