The Trans-Border Arrangement of Ming Pilgrim Flasks and the Narrative of Transculturation in the British Museum

Pao-Yi Yang


This article revolves around the concepts of trans-border arrangement and transculturation and their significance to a critical theme in the British Museum today: cultural connectivity. Trans-border arrangement refers to displaying and classifying an object in museum space based on the object’s context of production as well as its relations with other objects and people; its transfer, gifting, collection, consumption, and appropriation. It represents, in museum space today, the circulation of material objects across cultural-geographical boundaries over a period of time in the past. To illustrate a trans-border arrangement, this article provides an empirical investigation of the multiple placements of Ming pilgrim flasks in the British Museum’s galleries of China, India, and Europe. This display scheme not only shows how the British Museum can accommodate the narrative of transculturation into its spatial configuration, but also how the institution of the museum can engage in the global turn in art history that blossomed in the late 1990s.


Transculturality; Global biographies; Trans-border spatiality; Chinese Ming porcelain; British Museum

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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