Five of the most unusual objects from the National Museum of Scotland's new galleries

Five of the most unusual objects from the National Museum of Scotland's new galleries

credit: Stewart Attwood

Highlights from the Ancient Egypt, East Asia and Ceramics galleries

Three new galleries have recently opened at the National Museum of Scotland, which aim to provide new and engaging displays of internationally significant material. These galleries, dedicated to Ancient Egypt, East Asia and the Art of Ceramics, include treasures which tell unique stories from cultures around the world. Here, we pick out five highlights from the galleries, revealing more about these untold stories.

Coptic sock from Akhmim, Egypt (4th–5th century)
Who knew the Ancient Egyptians wore socks in the desert, and thick, woollen ones at that? This sock (pictured above) was designed to be worn with sandals, and is made of different coloured wool to create a striped effect (now we know where Paul Smith got his inspiration from). The shape of the toe is really unusual, presumably so the sock would fit either side the toe post of the sandal. Very innovative and aesthetically pleasing too.
On display: World Cultures, Ancient Egypt Rediscovered

Puzzle jug by Newbigging Pottery, Musselburgh, Scotland (c.1820–30)
This jug suggests that drinking games – like socks – are much older than you'd think. The puzzle jug has hidden holes designed to drink from, which explain how you'd win the game: by avoiding any spillages from these holes. This one is decorated in a hand-painted blue and white design, like those made by Spode in England, and is inscribed with a rhyme which tells you how to play the game.
On display: Art of Ceramics

Korean hats (19th–20th century)
The display of 19th and 20th century Korean hats proves that one hat will not do for every occasion, and that hats are not a case of 'one size fits all'. Amongst the collection is a sacrificial hat worn by the emperor's representative at the tombs of ancestors, hats for the everyday gentleman, and a bride's hat. The materials range from paper, to horse hair, to dyed bamboo and silk; an eclectic mixture both in terms of style and function.
On display: World Cultures, Exploring East Asia

Five of the most unusual objects from the National Museum of Scotland's new galleries

Porcelain chocolate pot, China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
This object looks like a teapot on first glance, with the addition of a spout, which is interesting when thinking about its use. Drinking chocolate seems the most plausible explanation, as it's hard to imagine people in the early modern period covering things in melted chocolate as we do today, and this would explain the spout. The pot is decorated in a painted polychrome style with birds and figures in oval panels, and was probably intended for export to Europe.
On display: World Cultures, Exploring East Asia

Mao porcelain vase by Jiangxi Ceramic Industry Company, China (1968)
As if propaganda posters, paintings and statues weren't enough, Mao's portrait on a porcelain vase takes self-promotion one step further. The large vase contains an inscription wishing him long life, and a poem entitled 'The Double Ninth' by Mao himself on the reverse. The radiating lines around his portrait echo the representations of Mao as the sun which were popular at this time. This has got to be one of the most unusual pieces of communist propaganda out there, surely?
On display: World Cultures, Exploring East Asia

National Museum of Scotland

Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF

In its landmark building, occupying more than half of Chambers Street, the National Museum of Scotland was formerly two different museums – the Royal Museum, built in 1861, and the more modern Museum of Scotland, completed in 1998. The facilities were…

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