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5 March, 2017 22:04

March 5, 2017

The collection which I focused on was Europe and the World (1600 – 1720). This collection contained a variety of artefacts highlighting how European countries were influenced and affected by the cultures, religions and industries from other continents during this time period. The trading of goods between continents and the transatlantic slave trade were also growing around this time, bringing in new materials such as hardwoods from America and raw cotton from Africa.

One object in the collection that drew me in was the Flower Pyramid which was made in about 1695 in the Netherlands. It is an imitation of the very sought after Chinese porcelain, which was no longer available to trade due to the collapse of the Chinese Ming dynasty. At the time, Europeans did not have the skills to create pieces of the same standards as the Chinese, but attempted to copy the style in this tin-glazed earthenware, painted with similar blue and white patterns. Due to the lack of knowledge of making processes, these pieces were very costly to produce, meaning that it would not be very widely available.

The increase in trade between continents majorly altered how people were living, as well as inspiring new industries as people wished to learn the ways of other craftsmen across the world. A large amount of the goods that were traded were produced using cheap labour or slaves. To me, this implies a lot of greed from people within the Western world. The Flower Pyramid is placed on display next to an ebony cradle, made in around 1660. Like most of the items in this collection from Asia, this piece was made for Europeans and includes western features, as well as Indian motifs. This also highlights the demand for work of skilled craftsmen from other continents, and the lack of knowledge of Europeans at this time.

Another piece on display is a German dish made in 1735 from the first European factory that could make porcelain of the East Asian type. This progress in manufacturing and materials could have greatly affected the supply and demand of items around the world, as this labour then would not necessarily have to be outsourced to other countries, altering trade altogether. Another interesting thing to me about this is that it has Japanese patterns, in the same way that all the previous Asian pieces have western patterns. Trade has allowed each culture to be influenced by the other.

From what I have observed, the collections that the museum has on show highlight that, as different political events happen and cultures change, it is reflected within the art and design created. I think that the museum showcases how we adapt within our societies, and how we have been influenced across different industries. It also highlights how different countries are more advanced.


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