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A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

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“Roads of Arabia” Exhibition at National Museum Extended Thru May 13th!

 

Poster

Poster for the exhibition announcing the extension (in the pink circle!)

By Avi Landau

Anyone who keeps up with world affairs has heard that the oil rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the world`s most “traditional”, conservative and reclusive regimes is starting to change. Among the reforms rumored to have taken place (or  soon to be implemented) are: women being given the right to drive automoblies and attend certain sporting events, public cinemas being allowed to open, foreigners being allowed to apply for tourist visas(??!!) and the (partial privatization of the national oil company Aramco.

At least this is what we`ve been reading about or hearing in the news – but there is no way for us to confimr what is really going on. The evidence we DO have right here in Japan for the changes we`ve been hearing about taking place in Saudi Arabia is an eye-opening exhibition being held at the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno – Roads tof Arabia – Archaological Treasures of Saudi Arabia which has been extended to run through April 13th( it had originally been scheduled to close on March 18th).

Figure

Anthropomorphic stele, Qaryat al-kaafa (Late 4th-3rd millenium BCE) – the many of the works shown in the first part of the exhition were discovered by a team of archaeologists from Kanazawa University

The exhibition was a surprise (and evidence of change) for two reasons – first, I had never seen any exhibition of works on loan from Saudi Arabia before, and second, the works themselves did not focus on Islam (and the often astounding works of art, architecture and calligraphy inspired by it) – but on the pre-Islamic civilizations that once thrived (or at least left their archaeological mark on) what is now the kingdom (many of which I had never heard of before). Who would have thought the Saudi government would sponsor an exhibition of pagan images! Not me. But along with all the other fascinated visitors who`ve been enjoying this show, I have to say thanks for this celebration of man and human civilization.

Here are some of the works on display (photography is permitted in all parts of the exhibition!)

Head

Head of Man. Qaryat al-Faw (1st century BCE-2nd Century CE

 

Ancient figurines said to be from around 6,500 BCE! (al-Magar)

Ancient figurines said to be from around 6,500 BCE! (al-Magar)

 

Various idols

Figurines depicting various pagan gods

 

tablet

Tablet inscribed in Aramaic (in Hebrew letters)

 

Here and there on the exhibition walls are photos of Saudi Arabia`s histoircal and archaeological sites - making  us hope that some day we might reallly be able to visit the country as tourists!

Here and there on the exhibition walls are  photos of Saudi Arabia`s historical and archaeological sites – filling us with the hope that some day we might reallly be able to visit the country as tourists!

 

Sheeps head

Sheeps head created thousands of years before the Common Era

 

Tablet

Stele

 

Ancient human figure carved in stone

Ancient human figure carved in stone

 

Image

Human Figure

 

stella

stele with mysterious inscriptions

 

relief

Stone relief depicting a lion and some more inscriptions

 

A 1st century CE grave in Thaj. A beuatiful gold  funerary mask was found here (my picture didn`t come out very well - but you can see it at the official exhibition website

A 1st century CE grave in Thaj. Besides this body surrounded by gold coins a beuatiful gold funerary mask was found here (my picture didn`t come out very well – but you can see it at the official exhibition website along with more information of the history of the Arabian Peninsula

 

On the day I visited the Roads of Arabia exhibition there was a tent set up out front. Dried dates and chai were served and anyone who wanted to was invited to join a seminar on Islam.

On the day I visited the Roads of Arabia exhibition there was a tent set up out front. Dried dates and chai were served and anyone who wanted to was invited to join a seminar on Islam.

Also at the National Museum is the newly opened exhibition: Echoes of a Masterpiece – the Lineage of Beauty in Japanese Art