What just happened?

To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


Jade brush pot

Jade brush pot

© 2003 Private Collection

Illustration from the Gengzhi tu

Illustration from the Gengzhi tu

Diameter: 19.000 cm

On loan from a private collection 29:18

The dense, detailed carving on this substantial brush pot depicts two scenes from farming life, the winnowing of grain and the stacking of sheaves. These can be directly compared with images from the Gengzhi tu, a set conventionally used to illustrate rice growing and sericulture (silk farming). Many woodblock, stone engraved and painted images of these sequences of agricultural life were made in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The British Museum has a set dated to 1696.

Jade workshops followed conventional painting themes in some of their work, creating in effect pictures on jade. Both the subject matter and some techniques of the painter or engraver were acquired. The surface of the jade is treated rather like a sheet of paper, to be subdivided like a handscroll. Here the scenes are subdivided by large bands of rock that cross the field of the pot from top to bottom.

On display: Room 33b: Chinese jade