China: Wisdom Comes from the East

On November 19, the Maritime Exhibition Hall of the Museum of the World Ocean presents a renewed exhibition of the section China: Wisdom Comes from the East. Based on items
from the museum collection, presenting ancient cultural traditions of Tianxia, as well as on specially selected materials, the exhibition reveals a very significant and interesting episode in the history of China – its development as a powerful marine country. The exhibition complex “China Explores the Ocean: Zheng He and his Fleet” acquaints with the legendary admiral of the Great Ming, a traveler and a mariner Zheng He (1371–1433) and his unique treasure ships, which made seven major voyages to the counties of Indochina, Hindustan, the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa in 1405 to 1435.

The history, depicted on a Chinese screen is supplemented with a large decorative map of Admiral Zheng He’s voyages. A special sector of the exhibition is a so-called “interior” of a Chinese house, full of distinctive traditional handicraft articles, such as decorative and applied art, lacquer furniture, sculptures, and paintings. A picturesque exhibition at the Maritime Art Gallery continues the topic. Canvases of “The Images of China. Following Yu. Sosnovskiy’s Expedition to China (1874-1875)” tell about an amazing journey to the Celestial Empire to discover new trade routes, explore the lands and peoples inhabiting them. Among participants of the expedition under the command of Colonel Yu. Sosnovskiy was a doctor, an artist, a portrayer of ordinary life and an explorer – P. Pyasetskiy (1843 — 1919) – and a talented photographer A. Boyarskiy. While travelling, they created several
hundreds of unique drawings and photographs, featuring Mongolia and China views, ethnographic types, individual and group portraits of residents of little-studied areas in Southeast Asia.

The core of the exhibition is made up of copies of P. Pyasetskiy’s watercolours and lithographs from the State Hermitage and the Scientific Library of the Russian Geographical Society holdings as well as copies of A. Boyarskiy’s photographs from the Scientific Archive of the RGS. A special small section presents amazing inventions of Chinese origin. We use many of them every day and even don’t realize their ancient history is rooted in the Celestial Empire!

Brief info
Julian (Yuli) Sosnovskiy (1842—1897) — an officer of the General Staff of the Imperial Armed Forces, a major general, a Knight of the Order of St. George, a participant of the Russo-Turkish War (1877—1878), an orientalist and an Asia explorer. Pavel Pyasetskiy (1843—1919) — a Russian physician, a traveler, a writer and an artist. Thanks to the scientist and military doctor P. Pyasetskiy, the history of national medicine was enriched with introduction of a new unique skin transplantation technique and discovery of kefir health benefits, and art & literature – with excellent drawings and a very valuable narration on the far-away lands of China. Adolf Boyarskiy (n/a) – a non-service nobleman, a photographer and a participant of the Russian Scientific-Commercial Expedition to China (1874—1875).

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