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Ships of the Silk Road: The Bactrian Camel in Chinese Jade

Date: 28 October 2021 (Thursday)
Time: 5:30-7:00pm
Location: CRT4.04, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus
Zoom Link: https://hku.zoom.us/j/97490624001?pwd=ME5qT3Iyck9VekxCSVRJZ2ZNaERXUT09z
Zoom Meeting ID: 974 9062 4001 | Password: 008348

For hundreds of years, the Bactrian camel ploughed a lonely furrow across the vast wilderness of Asia. This bizarre-looking, temperamental yet hardy creature here came into its own as the core goods vehicle, resolutely and reliably transporting to China fine things from the West while taking treasures out of the Middle Kingdom in return. It took all manner of goods linking China in the East with Rome in the West via Persia for perhaps 1,000 years. Where the chariot, wagon and other wheeled conveyances proved useless amidst the shifting desert dunes, the surefooted progress of the camel – the archetypal ‘ship of the Silk Road’ – reigned supreme. The Bactrian camel was a subject that appealed particularly to Chinese artists because of its association with the exotic trade to mysterious Western lands. In this talk, Angus Forsyth tells the full historical background to the key role of the Bactrian camels and explores the numerous diverse jade pieces depicting this iconic beast of burden.

Speaker: Mr. Angus Forsyth

Angus Forsyth is an internationally respected collector of, and authority on, Chinese jade and a former president of the Oriental Ceramics Society of Hong Kong. He has given long and dedicated study to ancient jades, with special attention to the Neolithic period, publishing widely on the topic. His publications include Chinese Jade (1991) and Jades from China (coauthored with Brian McElney, 1994) and Ships of the Silk Road: The Bactrian Camel in Chinese Jade (PWP, 2018), which was the basis of his talk to RASBJ March 3 “Jade Camels of the Silk Road”.

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