The new exciting display in the Foyle Special Collections Gallery of the Brunei Gallery The Arts of Southeast Asia highlights the breadth of the region’s cultures as represented in the SOAS collections. It demonstrates the long-term engagement of SOAS Staff and Alumni, whose research and travels have brought this variety of objects to the School. Curated by Anna Contadini (School of Arts), the exhibition constitutes an important further stage in the “Treasures of SOAS Project”, designed to highlight and encourage research of the SOAS collections.
The objects displayed, many for the first time, have a wide chronological span, are diverse in nature, comprising manuscripts (written on bark, palm leaves, copper sheets and paper), textiles, sculptures, metalwork, ceramics and paintings, and reflect the variety of religions, cultures and languages to be found across this vast area. The objects come from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and range in date from circa 1000 BCE to the twenty first century.
The exhibition is organized around four broad themes that touch upon a number of important aspects of Southeast Asian life and culture:
-Magic and divination
-Contacts with East and West
Within this framework the objects displayed reflect the range of Southeast Asian arts, their innovations and traditions to be found in the SOAS collections.