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Columbus Museum of Art explores the Silk Road
Esfahan Kalamkari hat kalamkari (painted cotton) child's hat.


COLUMBUS, OH.- The Columbus Museum of Art invites you to explore the culture and history of Southern Asia’s Silk Road. Hats on the Silk Road: Selections from the Collection of Russell S. and Dona Fling, on view April 17 – July 5, showcases the remarkable collection of Russell S. and Dona Fling, among the most important collections of its kind in the world.

The Silk Road is not a physical highway but consists of thousands of miles of random, unpaved, trading trails stretching across Southern Asia. Throughout history, traders traveling these trails searching for new markets encountered a variety of cultures and religions along the way, and, as commodities were traded, so were the influences of these other ways of life.

The exhibition presents a colorful selection of headdresses, hats and, skullcaps from the Fling Collection and examines the history, provenance and, cultural backgrounds from which the works come. These hats reflect the people who made them, as well as their cultures, religions, customs, traditions, livelihoods, social status, time periods, and even the climate. Hats were made for practical purposes, such as protection from the weather; for special occasions, such as weddings; for recognizing social or political status; and for purposes of religion. They represent all levels of society, from rulers to ordinary citizens, rich and poor, male and female, adult and child. Some were worn by kings, queens, and powerful political leaders; others, by brides and grooms.

The Fling Collection is extensive, including hats from across the globe and including countries and regions such as Turkey, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Russia, Mongolia, Nagaland, India, Pakistan, Tibet, Bhutan, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines — many of them in the current world spotlight.

Accompanying the exhibition is a lavishly illustrated new book, also titled Hats on the Silk Road. Every hat in the exhibition is included in the book, providing much informative detail. The text also examines the Silk Road in some detail, recounting the intriguing history of this fascinating, important, and too little known part of the world. The book is offered in the Museum Shop.





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