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Exhibitions: Two Temple Place, Cherokee Heritage Center, and Censorship in Dhaka

February 10, 2016.  Two Temple Place in London showcases Egyptian collections of UK regional museums, “Cherokee Syllabary: From Talking Leaves to Pixels” celebrates the restoration and revitalization of the Cherokee language, and an offended Chinese ambassador causes one of Dhaka’s biggest art shows to cover up five artworks on the subject of Tibetan self-immolation.

The Bulldog Trust, a charity that supports regional museums across the UK, has opened its annual Winter Exhibition in Two Temple Place, this time featuring artifacts from seven of Britain’s smaller museums.  The exhibition, “Beyond Beauty: Transforming the Body in Ancient Egypt” combines objects with human imagery, including exquisite painted coffins and decorated funerary masks, with artifacts the show the tools and tricks whereby the ancient Egyptians made themselves beautiful: jewelry, mirrors, hairpins, scent bottles and even makeup. More than two hundred UK museums have Egyptology collections, many of the objects collected in the Victorian period. The Bulldog Trust hopes to raise awareness of the many UK Egyptian collections and resources through the exhibition. The exhibition is curated by Egyptologist Dr. Margaret Serpico, with Heba Abd El Gawad, a PhD student in Egyptian Archaeology at Durham University.

Cherokee Syllabary: From Talking Leaves to Pixels,” an exhibition at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma from January 28-April 2, displays the use of the 85 character written language from the time of the 13 colonies to the 21st century. First codified into a syllabary by the great Chief Sequoya between 1809 and 1825, Cherokee became a threatened language through the many vicissitudes suffered by the Indian nation. Use of the language has expanded through a social and political revival that included the establishment of primary and secondary schools taught in the Cherokee language.

The Cherokee were early convinced that the key to the tribes survival was to adapt to and use the tools of their colonizers. In 1827, the Cherokee Nation drafted a Constitution modeled on the United States, with executive, legislative and judicial branches and a two-tiered legislature. Tribal leaders worked diligently to spread literacy in order to raise a generation of leaders capable of negotiating with the US government; the bilingual ‘Cherokee Phoenix,’ was the first American Indian newspaper, in February 1828. Voting, petitioning and formal negotiations did not avail in the preservation of the Cherokee homeland against encroachment by white settlers. The Trail of Tears was a US government forced migration in 1838 in which the Cherokee, despite having previously defended the integrity of their territory through the US courts, were forced to march over 800 miles across the US to lands in Oklahoma. As many as 4,000 people died of disease, exposure and starvation.

Cwy_no_parking“Last Words.”  The Dhaka Art Summit, a major art exposition in Dhaka, Bangladesh at a state-run art gallery, agreed to cover up five art photographs of  letters written by Tibetans who self-immolated, after demands for their removal by the Chinese Embassy. The photographs were part of a multimedia installation “Last Words” on Tibetan self-immolation. A show organizer, who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “It was intimidating. I, personally, have started to feel threatened since then.” The owners of the works are Indian filmmaker Ritu Sarin and her husband Tenzing Sonam, a Tibetan living in exile. Sarin said that they were “outraged by the Chinese demand,” but agreed to cover up the works with sheets rather than to remove them in order to avoid the possibility that the entire exhibition would be shut down. A 2009 exhibition of photography of Tibet, ‘Into Exile, Tibet 1949-2009,’ was closed. At that time, police locked the gallery owners out after Chinese diplomats complained.

Images: Sequoya, inventor of the Cherokee syllabary, By Lithographer: Lehman and Duval (George Lehman (d.1870); Peter S. Duval) Painter: Henry Inman (1801-20-28 – 1846-01-17); copy after a painting by Charles Bird King (1785 – 1862) which was lost in a fire in the Smithsonian in 1865. – Source of this reproduction unknown. See also File:Sequoyah painting.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=378855; No Parking traffic sign in Cherokee syllabary and English in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, author Uyvsdi, 2007.

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