Early this morning – Eastern time in the US, a colleague brought to my attention the a newly released book about “Chinese Silk on Russian Military Flags in Swedish Collection,” at the Swedish Army Museum (Armémuseum).
At first, the title sounded fabulously esoteric – especially, as I sit here in my study in old New England. However, after reviewing the introduction to the text, I realized that I have not only been to the Armémuseum in the district of Östermalm of Stockholm, but it is in fact one of my favorite museums in Sweden. The traditional style exhibitions, though on a grand scale in a majestic building, bring the stories of Scandinavian history to life.
This to me – a West Asian museologist born on the Silk Road – is what Silk Road history embodies. An expansive network that facilitated cultural exchanges across thousands of miles from far East Asia to Western Europe. One that lasted for centuries, and which continues to influence our daily lives around the globe, whether we are aware of it or not.
Introducing a book on Chinese Silk in Sweden via Russia (Zhejiang University Press 浙江大学出版社) is a most apropo way to conclude the first Silk Road Week 2020. And, that is what the National Cultural Heritage Administration & Zhejiang Province did, at the Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, earlier today.
The launch ceremony of “Chinese Silk on Russian Military Flags in Swedish Collection” coincided with the closing of Silk Road Week 2020. In attendance were Chief editor (of “Chinese Silk on Russian Flags in Swedish Collection”) and curator of China National Silk Museum, Zhao Feng. He was joined by Yuan Yachun (Chief Editor of Zhejiang University Press), Su Miao (associate chief editor of the book, associate Dean of College of Textile Science and Engineering, Zhejiang Sci-Tech University), and Zhang Chen (associate chief editor of Zhejiang University Press).
I imagine were it not for the challenges to travel (& life) posed by Covid-19, Karin Tetteris (Curator of Flags in the Collections Department, Swedish Army Museum) would have also joined in the ceremony upon the release of the book that surveys a rich collection in her highly recommendable museum.
Here’s a short excerpt from Ms. Tetteris’ introduction to the book:
“During the 17th century Sweden conducted a politics of expansion that resulted in numerous wars against the neighbouring states: Russia, Denmark, Poland-Lithuania, Holy Roman Empire, etc. As a result a vast amount of infantry colours, cavalry standards, pennants as well as naval flags were delivered to Stockholm. There are indications that a certain routine started to evolve as to how the conquered trophies were to be handled. If the king himself was present in the campaign all banners should first be presented to him. The soldiers who had been fortunate enough to capture a banner were rewarded with money or a valuable item of some sort such as gold objects…” (Zhejiang University Press)