Friday 11 May 2007
CHICAGO — A trove of pieces of broken pottery has become something of a treasure at the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago, where the shards will be displayed May 15 through Oct. 14 in an exhibition titled Daily Life Ornamented: The Medieval Persian City of Rayy.
The pieces will be on display for this exposition in the Marshall and Doris Holleb Family Gallery for Special Exhibits at the museum, 1155 E. 58th St.
The exhibit documents daily life and post-Sasanid culture in medieval Persia and also demonstrates how archaeologists reassemble the past from the broken fragments that they find in large quantities.
For the exhibition, curators have examined pottery shards in boxes in the basement of the Oriental Institute that were part of an excavation made just south of Tehran in the city of Rayy, one of the most prominent communities on the Silk Road in the Middle Ages and a major centre for post-Sasanid culture and scholarship from the 9th to the 13th centuries.
The ceramic fragments come from vessels that range from humbly etched cooking pots to brilliantly coloured luxury ware. All reflect a fascination with decoration in many aspects of everyday life and link the patterns of life at Rayy to an Islamic culture that spanned the Middle East. The curators have assembled about 150 of the pieces and 30 exquisite watercolours made to illustrate whole pots. The watercolours are matched with a number of the pieces.
The paintings of whole vessels made on the basis of evidence in shards also illustrate the work of archaeologists, who must use their vast knowledge and detective-like insights to assemble as much as possible to examine long-gone civilizations.
Suggested donation for admission to the museum is $5 for adults and $2 for children.