There’s lots to see at the RAS!

Earlier this week, Tuesday 20 November, the Society hosted a lecture by Dr Jacob Ghazarian (University of Oxford), titled “The Ancient Silk Road: its enduring impact on China and renewed objectives”. Dr Ghazarian discussed the arrival of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam in China, and the relationship between these events and the Silk Road, before summarizing the status of these religious traditions in China today. His lecture was illuminated by some wonderful photographs highlighting rarely-seen parts of western China.  The second half of Dr Ghazarian’s lecture looked at conceptions of the Silk Road today, particularly the place of the Silk Road in the geopolitical and strategic interests of modern China; and the economic and wider cultural significance of this ancient route in the present day.

Dr Jacob Ghazarian delivers his lecture

Dr Ghazarian also donated to the Society a copy of the inscriptions from the Nestorian Stele, or Nestorian Tablet, which dates from the Tang Dynasty and documents the first 150 years of Nestorian Christianity in China.

Dr Susan Whitfield introducing the lecture

Next week, on Tuesday 27 November at 6pm, the Society will host an event to explore the connection between Great Britain and Georgia. The Annual Rustaveli Day will see two talks, one by Dr Henry Sanford on the British-Georgian actress Gayane Mickeladze, and one by Professor Elguja Khintibidze, who will present his book on the links between Rustaveli and Shakespeare. We hope that many of our blog readers will be able to attend.

In other news, we are delighted to have a new exhibition on display in our Reading Room. This display was curated by Praphaphan Chuenkaek, who completed an internship at the Society as part of the SOAS Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme. Praphaphan did valuable work with our collections, which focussed on the listing, cataloguing, and repackaging of our holdings pertaining to the British archaeologist and historian, H.G. Quaritch Wales (1900-1981). Quaritch Wales is chiefly known for his work with South East Asian antiquities, especially in Thailand, and our new Reading Room exhibition focuses on Quaritch Wales’s first book, Siamese State Ceremonies, first published in 1931. We are very grateful to Praphaphan for all her work with the Quaritch Wales collection, and hope that visitors to the Library over the next few months enjoy looking at the display.

My colleague Nancy Charley, the Society’s Archivist, writes most of the Society’s blog posts, but this week I’m standing in for Nancy as she’s on holiday. As it happens, this is actually the second blog post I’ve done this week: you can find the other one on the blog of the Horniman Museum and Gardens, at That post coincides with the ongoing loan of a beautiful Ming Dynasty Arrow Vase, which is on display at the Society until the end of March 2019, as part of the Object in Focus programme. We’re very grateful to the Horniman for lending us this stunning object. In addition to Praphaphan’s display, it provides yet another reason to come and visit our Reading Room!

The Arrow vase currently on display