The British Museum

Our first afternoon was spent at the British Museum.

We planned to spend several hours at the Museum and decided to try and see everything. We loosely followed the “Don’t Miss” route — seeing as much as possible along the way.

We were allowed to take pictures in most of the rooms (huzzah!!) and I took A LOT of them. Here we go!

Don’t Miss #1: The Lewis Chessmen

The Lewis Chessman
“The most famous chess set in the world.”

Don’t Miss #2: Oxus Treasure
I was not intrigued with this one.

I was instead more impressed by this:

Lion attacking a bull, wall relief from Persepolis
Wall Relief from Persepolis

Don’t Miss #3: The Royal Game of Ur
Also, not interested. After seeing the Senet games in the Egyptian Museum, this was…meh.

Speaking of Egypt however:

Egyptian sarcophogi behind glass
Egyptian Sarcophogi

They obviously had a pretty ridiculously awesome Egypt section. Including, of course, the Rosetta Stone. (Which was also Don’t Miss #9.) I would’ve liked to spend more time with this — but it was easily the busiest artifact in the Museum. People were elbowing all over the place trying to get a good view/good picture. Too bad.

Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone

“Oh, is this named after that language learning program you see in airports all the time?” –Tank

Don’t Miss #4: The Portland Vase
Now, I didn’t think this would be too cool. A vase? Really? Well, naysayers, it was rather arresting. It was smashed sometime in the mid-1800s and painstakingly restored. The two color style, done in this way, is rare, and gorgeously rendered. I’m now a fan.

The Portland Vase
“The Roman Inspiration for Wedgwood”

Don’t Miss #5: Samurai Armour
Did you know that Samurai Armor was also given to James I as a diplomatic gift from Tokugawa Hidetada? (True story: we saw it on display at the Tower of London.)

Display case of samurai armor
“Military might in medieval Japan”

Don’t Miss #6: Cloisonne Jar with Dragons
We couldn’t find this one! Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I now know it looks like this.

However, I really enjoyed the rest of the China and Southeast Asia floor — racking my brain for details learned in Prof. Kucera’s Southeast Asian Art History class at Olaf.

Shiva and Parvati sculpture
Shiva and Parvati – “This stone sculpture shows the powerful Hindu deity Shiva, with his consort Parvati, ‘the daughter of the mountain’, seated on his knee.”
Sculpted relief of Durga killing a Demon
I think this is Durga laying waste to the demon Mahisa.

Don’t Miss #7: Ife Head
The African section was very poorly marked. I’m pretty sure we saw this, because we scoured those rooms, but sadly no pictures. (This is it.)

Here are a couple of other things we saw instead:

Throne of Weapons – “The throne was made by the Mozambican artist Cristovao Canhavato (Kester) from decommissioned weapons collected since the end of the civil war in 1992.” A different kind of Iron Throne? (Game of Thrones is infecting my brain.)

Throne of Weapons, made from firearms
Throne of Weapons

I don’t remember what this was called and I can’t find it online — however I did find a Guardian article that included this description of it:
“Coronation of Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa in 1930…Under the dove of the Holy Spirit, the Lion of Judah (one of the emperor’s titles) presides over a last supper of animals who would normally prey on each other, and are shown doing so in the scenes at the side…The ruler has done what all rulers ought: banished discord and conflict, and united his country in peace using spiritual means to overcome evil.”

Painting
Tank wanted to hang this up in our house.

Don’t Miss #8: Easter Island statue Hoa Hakananai’a
Nope! Not posting any pictures of Easter Island statues…UNTIL I GO THERE MYSELF.

Don’t Miss #10: Assyrian Lion Hunt Reliefs
These were out of control. Massive wall reliefs depicting every possible way that you could kill a lion with a pointy weapon. Just lion after lion with spears and arrows lodged in all parts of their bodies. And this:

Detail of a lion vomiting from the Assyrian Lion Hunt reliefs
Yep. A lion vomiting.
So, not only do the Assyrians know how to shoot a lion from every angle, they can also make them puke in fear?

Don’t Miss #11: Parthenon sculptures
Awesome. Now I really want to go to Greece. (That, and read the next Rick Riordan series.)

Male torse Parthenon sculpture
This one was Tank’s favorite.

Tank really liked this series of sculptures that depicted Greeks battling Centaurs. They can be read as a depiction of a mythical battle between Lapiths and Centaurs that occurred during a feast, or as a depiction of the larger struggle between Athens and Persia.

Metope from the Parthenon depicting a Greek battling a Centaur
Tank especially liked this one because it was one of the only to show the Greek winning.

That was it from The British Museum’s “Don’t Miss” list. But there was SO MUCH MORE TO SEE! Here are just a few more…

Assyrian Gates – I liked these two because they were a mismatched set.

Scupltures from and Assyrian gate, one side: winged bull with the head of a man; other side: winged lion with the head of a man
Notice one side is a winged minotaur and the other side is a winged sphinx.

Cuneiform! Rows of cuneiform were carved OVER other wall reliefs. I thought this was an interesting decision as heiroglyphs are usually seen painted or carved around other visual depictions — not right on top.

Carved rows of cuneiform
This says ‘E.T. forever’

This was right outside the Parthenon room and is a Nereid Monument. Nereids are water nymphs associated specifically with the Mediterranean (as distinct from Naiad = FRESH water nymph, and Oceanid = SALT water nymph).

Nereid Monument with four ionic columns and three nereid statues
Nereid Monument
Half of E's face with half of a bust
Nothing to see here…
E.T. in front of the British Museum
After seeing SO MUCH HISTORY! we were exhausted and hungry.

I think we were wandering around until 7:30 (it was open until 8:30). So. much. fun.

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5 thoughts on “The British Museum”

  1. I also loved the Haile Selasse Celebration tapestry, but not as much as I loved that lion up there. But then again, you know how I am about puking. #HaileGebraSelasse #Throwup #hashtrick

  2. Dear Emilycd,

    My name is Lawrence Chang from an online English-learning company located in Taiwan.
    And I just found these fascinating photos here related to British Museum. We are just wondering if we can use these wonderful pictures on our company’s website? Please kindly approve and we’ll be much appreciated for it. Thank you.

    Sincerely yours,
    Lawrence

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