Cloisonné is an enamelling technique for decorating metalwork. Metal wire cells (cloisons in French) are added to create the design. Coloured glass rods are melted and dripped into the cells, then fired. When the object cools and the glass shrinks, gaps in the design are filled in and the object is re-fired. This process is repeated up to four times. Finally, the work is polished and the metal wires gilded (covered in gold).

Ming emperors encouraged developments in craft technology through patronage. They ordered brightly coloured objects to decorate the vast halls of their palaces. According to two inscriptions under the rim of this jar, it was made under the supervision of eunuchs in the ‘Directorate for Imperial Accoutrements’ for the Xuande emperor (r. 1425–1435).

See this spectacular jar and other fascinating objects in #Ming50Years – open now until 5 Jan 2015.

600 years ago on 20 September 1414, the Sultan of Bengal sent a giraffe as tribute to the Yongle emperor of China. The animal arrived at the Ming court to great acclaim and was thoroughly documented in words and images, like in this hanging scroll from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The giraffe was interpreted at court as the mythical beast, the qilin, supposedly seen only when a sage ruler was on the throne. Many exotic animals were sent as tribute to the Ming court from lands visited by the imperial fleet and its admiral Zheng He.
You can see this hanging scroll and much more of China’s amazing craftsmanship from the period in the BP exhibition Ming: 50 years that changed China, until 5 Jan 2015.
Be one of the first to see these stunning objects from museums across China and the world in this highly acclaimed exhibition.
★★★★★ ‘magnificent’ The Telegraph, ★★★★ ‘spectacular’ The Times 

600 years ago on 20 September 1414, the Sultan of Bengal sent a giraffe as tribute to the Yongle emperor of China. The animal arrived at the Ming court to great acclaim and was thoroughly documented in words and images, like in this hanging scroll from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The giraffe was interpreted at court as the mythical beast, the qilin, supposedly seen only when a sage ruler was on the throne. Many exotic animals were sent as tribute to the Ming court from lands visited by the imperial fleet and its admiral Zheng He.

You can see this hanging scroll and much more of China’s amazing craftsmanship from the period in the BP exhibition Ming: 50 years that changed China, until 5 Jan 2015.

Be one of the first to see these stunning objects from museums across China and the world in this highly acclaimed exhibition.

★★★★★ ‘magnificent’ The Telegraph, ★★★★ ‘spectacular’ The Times 

To be considered educated in China, you were expected to be able to practise the Four Arts. These were playing the qin (a complex stringed instrument like a zither), weiqi (the strategy game also known as go), writing fine Chinese calligraphy in the styles of the great masters (shu), and appreciating and critiquing classical Chinese painting (hua). This wine jar from Shanghai Museum shows a group of ladies engaged in these cultural pursuits. You can see it in the BP exhibition Ming: 50 years that changed China, opening on 18 Sep 2014.

Great Britain moved from using the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar on Wednesday 2 September 1752. By this time, the two calendars were out by 11 days, so the following day was Thursday 14 September! This caused issues for objects like this one – a medal featuring a perpetual almanac. It was calculated using the Julian calendar, and the dates therefore became obsolete. There is a myth that people rioted asking for their eleven days back, which was stirred up by a satirical painting by William Hogarth, of which he also made an engraving, which you can see in the collection

As we mark 100 years since the declaration of war in 1914, here’s a picture of the British Museum’s War Memorial, which has been recently restored. The pictures also show a ticket to the unveiling of the memorial in 1921, along with the original design for the wreath. You can also read the original minutes of the British Museum War Memorial Committee.

The British Museum is also connected with the First World War through Laurence Binyon, Keeper of Oriental Prints and Drawings. Binyon wrote the Ode of Remembrance, taken from his poem For The Fallen, from which we recite the famous words:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

This is Mike the cat, who assisted in keeping the Main Gate at the British Museum from Feb 1909 to Jan 1929. When he died, the former Keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities, Sir E A Wallis Budge, wrote this pamphlet about him. His obituary was featured in both the London Evening Standard and Time magazine! In 1979, to mark the Golden Jubilee of his death, another pamphlet with illustrations was produced.

This is Mike the cat, who assisted in keeping the Main Gate at the British Museum from Feb 1909 to Jan 1929. When he died, the former Keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities, Sir E A Wallis Budge, wrote this pamphlet about him. His obituary was featured in both the London Evening Standard and Time magazine! In 1979, to mark the Golden Jubilee of his death, another pamphlet with illustrations was produced.