Event – December 10 – April 26 | Aga Khan Museum, Toronto: New Exhibition Launch: The Lost Dhow – A Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route

“This exhibition beautifully shows that creative exchanges between China and the Islamic world were fully under way one thousand years ago.”

– Alan Chong, Director of Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum

“The Lost Dhow exhibition is a natural fit with the Aga Khan Museum. The cross-cultural exchange exemplified by the dhow’s cargo is exactly what our collection and programming both celebrate and explore.”

– Henry Kim, Director and CEO of the Aga Khan Museum

AKM - LostDhow

EVENT: New Exhibition Launch: The Lost Dhow – A Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route
Media Preview: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014, 10:00 a.m. EST
Exhibition opens to the public: Saturday, December 13th, 2014 to Sunday, April 26th, 2015, click for museum hours
International Symposium, Film Series, and Performances: Dates coming soon
VENUE: Aga Khan Museum Auditorium, 77 Wynford Drive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

For the first time ever in North America, a stunning array of artifacts from this cargo is on display at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. Jointly organized by the Asian Civilisations Museum of Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board, and the Aga Khan Museum, the exhibition The Lost Dhow: A Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route runs from December 13, 2014, to April 26, 2015 with a full complement of multi-disciplinary programming.

About the New Exhibit:
The Lost Dhow – A Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route

In 1998, an Arab ship carrying goods from China was discovered at the bottom of the Indian Ocean off Belitung Island, Indonesia. Dating from the 9th-century (China’s Tang Dynasty), the Belitung shipwreck is the earliest Arab vessel of this period to be found with a complete cargo, including silver ingots, bronze mirrors, spice-filled jars, intricately worked vessels of silver and gold, and thousands of ceramic bowls, ewers, and other vessels.

Uncovering its mysterious origins reveals the interconnections between two great powers, the Tang and Abbasid Empires, whose influence collectively stretched from the East China Sea to North Africa.

The Lost Dhow: A Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route provides the earliest evidence of a maritime silk route — and confirms the vibrant exchange of ideas, and technologies between peoples that occurred centuries before the Portuguese entered the region in the late 15th century.

Through the display of more than 300 objects from its cargo, this exhibition tells compelling stories about the ship, its crew, and the treacherous movement by sea of domestic and luxury wares between continents 1,200 years ago.

The Lost Dhow: A Discovery of the Maritime Silk Route is jointly organized by the Asian Civilisations Museum of Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board, and the Aga Khan Museum.
The exhibition has received support from PSA International Pte Ltd and Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited.
The objects in the exhibition are from the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore. Acquisition of the Tang Shipwreck Collection was made possible by the Estate of Khoo Teck Puat.
The recovery and conservation of the collection was undertaken by Tilman Walterfang.


Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds: The Cargo of the Belitung Shipwreck

John Vollmer, Guest Curator for the Aga Khan Museum’s presentation of this exhibition, is a senior curator and scholar specializing in Asian art, textiles, decorative arts and design. He is a former director of the Design Exchange, Toronto and Kent State university Museum in Ohio. He was Senior Curator Fine and Decorative Arts at the Glenbow Museum, Calgary and has held curatorial positions in the Far Eastern Department and the Textile Department at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. Vollmer is Principal, Vollmer Cultural Consultants, based in New York City.

An international symposium, a film series, and performances by Silk Road-inspired musicians such as Wu Man, Kayhan Kalhor, and Sandeep Das are among the programming initiatives that will provide historical context for the exhibition and encourage conversation about the importance of preserving and sharing maritime heritage.

A richly illustrated publication, Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds, written by Simon Worrall and published by the Aga Khan Museum accompanies the exhibition.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

A green-splashed ewer featuring a handle in the form of a lion with a dragon-head spout and ringhandled cups, among nearly 200 pieces of white ceramics decorated with splashes of bright green that were found with other higher-value items of cargo from the Belitung shipwreck. Chemical analysis of broken pieces from the wreck suggests they were produced at the Gongxian kilns in Henan Province, renowned for its undecorated white wares.

A white ware cup stand, among about 300 pieces of white-glazed wares made in northern China at the Xing and Ding kilns in Hebei Province.High-fired white wares approaching porcelain in translucency and hardness were an innovation of northern Chinese kilns during the Tang dynasty.Highly prized by Chinese aristocrats because of their perceived similarity to luxury silver dishes, these wares were also coveted in foreign markets, particularly in West Asia where they were imitated.

A gold cup, which is completely unique among the items recovered from the cargo. Gold acquired great value in Chinese culture during the Tang dynasty. The shape of this vessel, metallurgical technology, and drinking of grape wine came from West Asia.


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