Digital Lab Blog

The MAA Digital Lab is a way of highlighting artefacts, histories and relationships from the collections at MAA, starting with a number of key research themes including tea, alcohol and Chinese art & culture.

Explore the most recent blog posts below or use the side bar to filter by date or category, or head over to the University of Cambridge Museums Collections in Action blog, for many more blogs from across both MAA and the wider UCM consortium.

Preserving and Revitalising 昆曲 (Kunqu Opera) on the World Stage

昆曲 (Kunqu Opera) one of the oldest remaining forms of Chinese opera, was listed on the ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity‘ by UNESCO in 2004. It has acted as a representative of traditional Chinese culture and national treasure, receiving attention both nationally in China and around the world.  In general academic…

Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year? – Celebrating in Harmony

The term ‘Chinese New Year’ and ‘Lunar New Year’ are interrelated and often spark controversies. The festival itself is celebrated across east and southeast Asia. It is a shared intangible cultural heritage, often victim to claims of origin and authenticity. Can museums and the collections in their care provide a forum to negotiate these claims?

The Tea Horse Road

Michael Freeman, photographer and author of ‘Tea Horse Road: China’s Ancient Trade Road to Tibet’, explores the pressed tea bricks in MAA’s collections and the longest trade route in the ancient world.

More than Music

4 minute read By Mark Elliott There is music in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Well, there is and there isn’t. Museums have traditionally acquired, exhibited and interpreted artefacts: tangible things. Intangible aspects of human cultural life and wellbeing such as music don’t generally get collected except in their material manifestations as musical instruments.…

Brick Tea and Currency

By Aayushi Gupta In my previous blog post on this object, I pursued one of the clues found on the label on its back. That label also gave us another clue – ‘Given to me by A.C. Haddon 29 Dec 1900’. Who was this tea brick given to? Why did Haddon give it to them?…

‘Square Face’: Gin, Currency, and Colonialism in Africa

By Mark Elliott A bottle of European gin made its way from Germany to Nigeria, where it was collected by an English missionary. Discover it’s stories of trade in West Africa, currencies, colonial exploitation, Christianity, traditional African religious practices, sociality, alcohol consumption and prohibition.

Introducing MAA’s Digital Lab

By Mark Elliott We are excited to announce the launch of the MAA Digital Lab: an online platform through which we aim to increase and diversify digital engagement and access to the world cultures collections in the Museum.

The Buddha, the War God and the Pirate King

By Ashleigh Griffin While recataloguing the Asian collections at MAA, I came across a number of historic inaccuracies as well as stories of warfare and plunder hinted at in the documentation around the objects. This is the tale of an artefact that brought both of these together, which highlights important issues facing collections of ethnography,…

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