THE CELESTIAL EMPIRE
In this section of the Museum pieces of furniture (like tables, chairs, closets and beds) are displayed, mostly dating back to the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), and coming from patrician mansions. Many of the most valued pieces belong to the period of the Qianlong kingdom (1736-1795). Right in that period, the Qing empire reached its maximum geographical extent and the climax of its demographical and economic development. In such a prosperous environment, outstanding artworks were accomplished, and the whole creative sector recorded a remarkable growth.
Emphasis has been given within this section of the museum to workmanship as we can see it in the pieces of furniture being displayed, very often manufactured with precious woods. The construction of each component was carefully studied: complex wedges and metal locks that are surprising for their beauty and exquisite making, are a sample of the greatness and dexterity of human handiworks.
SOUNDS FROM THE ANCIENT EMPIRE
The history of the bell was born in China over 5,000 years ago. The succession of emperors and the progress of technical skills and creative abilities of past craftsmen have yielded, across the centuries, some of the most beautiful bells now existing in the world.
The idea of such a collection was born by chance, some years ago, when the director of an Italian museum expressed his wish to buy an ancient Chinese bell.
What initially was just a commission, became later on an exciting activity of exploration aimed at discovering rare and valued pieces, and leading the researchers of the Obrietan museum to travel all the way to some of China’s most remote sites.
This section of the museum is consecrated to furnishings and house accessories mostly coming from China and Tibet. Small oddities telling the life of far away peoples, having to do their everyday jobs. The exhibits range from the containers where food was preserved, to furnishings and clothing, from horse saddles to peculiar and unusual working tools.
Musical instruments are included in the exhibits, as well as seals and objects used for handwriting and calligraphy. All the arts are represented here under the shape of the utensils used by men to carry out their creative works. And let’s not forget the defence weapons, like for instance knives or ancient daggers, protected by their precious sheaths. An outstanding path across distant civilizations, helping us in getting to know their vernacular tradition, that we can then compare to ours.
TIBET: ART AND SPIRITUALITY
Tibetan art is deeply connected to the spiritual aspects of life, and is then very rich in decorations and symbolic messages which are also being reproduced on common objects. As a matter of fact, in Tibet every form of art is a mighty medium conveying the universal meaning of Buddhism.
Something the visitor will find very interesting is a reproduction of a small monastery, which could be executed thanks to the retrieval of some constructive elements (columns, girders and architraves, carved and painted) coming from some ancient Tibetan monasteries that have been demolished, and are forever lost.
This section of the museum is consecrated to some of the most remarkable pottery pieces of the Thais collection and are a part of the “Hoi-An treasure”, an all-important archaeological salvage made in 1966 in the Dragon Sea, off the city of Hoi-An in Vietnam where, in 1440, a Thai merchant ship sank with its precious charge of pottery pieces. After a group of fishermen randomly discovered it, long and very demanding salvage operations followed, carried out by a private company with the help of some experts from Oxford University, allowing to recover a number of dishes, vases, bottles, small boxes and small perfume bottles, as well as many other glass-covered handiworks, exquisitely decorated with blue patterns.
The discovery of these Vietnamese ceramics turned out to be so important on a worldwide level, that UNESCO resolved to include the Hoi-An treasure in the World Heritage List.
A part of the salvaged ship load was donated to some Vietnamese museums, another, noteworthy part of it was bought by some of the biggest museums in the world, and the rest was auctioned in San Francisco, California. The Obrietan Museum actively participated in the latter, important event, knocking down some among the most interesting pieces from the collection, now being displayed in this section of the museum.