Wine Cups Along the Silk Road: Transmission, Materiality, and Banquets

The silver stem cup in Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection is an embodiment of the transmission of art and culture along the Silk Road during the medieval period. This talk introduces how the seemingly ordinary shape of stem cups signified an innovation in the form of Chinese drinking vessels under the influence of Central and Western Asia. Dr. Zhang further addresses issues around materiality through an investigation of the production and perception of luxury silverware by Chinese and Nomads respectively. Lastly, we contextualize the stem cup in the social setting of public banquets to examine how the cup was engaged with both its users and viewers. Focusing on a specific hand gesture of holding the wine cup, Dr. Zhang demonstrates the cultural exchange across the Eurasian Continent did not only remain at the material level, but also shaped social protocols.

Dr. Fan Zhang is Professor of Practice in Asian Art at Tulane University. She received her PhD from New York University and specializes in cross-cultural exchanges between China and Central Asia through and beyond the Silk Road network. Dr. Zhang has published on various topics, including the circulation of luxury goods and artistic styles, the intersection of funerary art and Buddhist art, as well as the construction of identities in the process of cultural interaction. She has conducted archaeological fieldwork in both China and Tajikistan and also participated in research and curatorial programs in several museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of Korea, and the Sichuan Museum in China.

Buddha and Shiva, Lotus and Dragon: Masterworks from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection at Asia Society is co-organized by the American Federation of the Arts and Asia Society. This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The installation at NOMA is sponsored by Dr. Siddharth K. Bhansali, Judith Fos Burrus, Tim L. Fields, Dr. Nina Dhurandhar, Drs. Tarun and Rupa Jolly, Nuria Rowley, E. Alexandra Stafford and Raymond M. Rathle, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. John A. Batt, Jr., Mrs. Anila Keswani, Tom and Dian Winingder, Saffron NOLA, Danny and Denise Kingston, Hiren and Urvi Shah, Drs. Dimple and Kiran Zaveri, and Gia Rabito.

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Education and outreach initiatives at NOMA are supported in part by the Zemurray Foundation; the Lois and Lloyd Hawkins Jr. Foundation; The Helis Foundation; The Gayle and Tom Benson Foundation; The City of New Orleans; IBERIABANK; The Wagner Foundation; Janice Parmelee and Bill Hammack; the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative, funded by the Walton Family Foundation and the Ford Foundation; Sara and David Kelso; Patrick F. Taylor Foundation;  Dr. Scott S. Cowen; The RosaMary Foundation; The Azby Fund; the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency; The Collins C. Diboll Private Foundation; Burkenroad Foundation; Marian Dreux Van Horn Education Endowment; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation;  Ruby K. Worner Trust through the PNC Charitable Trusts Grant Review Committee; The Harry T. Howard III Foundation; New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.; Harvey and Marie Orth; The Bruce J. Heim Foundation; and Mrs. Bennett A. Molter, Jr. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.