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Sascha Priewe. 'Ritual and Revelry: The Art of Drinking in Asia': An Exhibition at the British Museum

The exhibition ‘Ritual and Revelry’ – the second in a series of pan-Asian exhibitions at the British Museum, which began with ‘Images and Sacred Texts: Buddhism across Asia’ in 2010 – explores some of the cultural contexts surrounding the consumption of liquids, mainly through the vessels that were used to drink, pour and store them. Of the 135 objects selected, most of them have rarely been on display, and cover a range of media from metalwork, lacquerware and ceramics to paintings. Showcasing examples from East, South and Southeast Asia, covering a broad time period from the Bronze Age in Central China (c. 1000 BCE) to 20th century India, this is not an exhaustive display, but one that focuses on a discrete set of case studies, explicated by objects in the collection.  It  traverses the ritual landscapes of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, Islam and Christianity, thereby illustrating the relationship between ritual and revelry. In this article, the author explores some of the overarching themes on which the exhibition is based.

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