The Silver Age: Origins and Trade of Chinese Export Silver

19 December 2017 - 25 February 2018

Silver, as early currency, has been linked to global economy, maritime trade and international relations. Silver wares made by this rare metal triggered the technical and cultural exchange of handicrafts between countries and regions. Curated by the Hong Kong Maritime Museum and co-organized with the Home Affairs Bureau, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Guangdong Museum, this exhibition is divided into six sections, including ‘Global Maritime Trade’, ‘Making of Chinese Silver’, ‘Export Silver’, ‘Workshops in Treaty Ports’, ‘From Canton to Hong Kong’ and ‘East Meets West: Table Etiquette’. Taking the role of silver in global economic development as a starting point, it explores the origins of Chinese export silver, Hong Kong as a trading hub of export silver during the late nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, and Hong Kong’s close relation with other silver manufacturing centers in China. Selected from the prominent collections of the Guangdong Museum, the HSBC Archives, Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Museum of Art and a number of local collectors, this exhibition is organized in conjunction with the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR.

The Silver Age Exhibition

To See a World in a Grain of Sand: Ancient Maritime and Overland trade

From 17 May 2016 
 
 
‘To See a world in a Grain of Sand’ is an exhibition that uses a small number of objects to communicate about the extensive maritime and overland trade routes of the past. Sand is an interesting metaphor for the land and sea trade which characterised the ancient Silk Road. The objects chosen for this exhibition highlight key themes around the circulation of commodities, people and ideas across the Silk Road over time.
 
Inspired by the first line of the poem by British poet William Blake (1757-1827), this exhibition explores the idea that the miniature can capture the essence of the vast. For the Silk Road, this includes both the maritime and land routes and the fascinating cross-cultural exchanges on art and culture across China, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
 
This exhibition offers visitors a glimpse into the spread of decorative style, religious ideas and the development of technology that came about as a result of centuries of trade and cultural connections between China and the world. The artefacts on display include materials from different cultures related to China – far and near. They include export ceramics from China and Southeast Asia, gemstones from Southeast and Central Asia, Mongolia and the Mediterranean, Turkish saddles decorated with textile patternand ancient Roman glassware used in China. Some of the Chinese export ceramics on display demonstrate the influence of nomadic and Central Asian metalwork.