Ritual and revelry
the art of drinking
in Asia

27 September 2012 – 6 January 2013

The exhibition is now closed

Recommend this exhibition

Discover the importance of water, alcohol and tea in cultures across Asia over the past 2,500 years.

From Bronze Age China to modern South Asia, liquids have played an important role in both religious and secular spheres, though the boundaries between them are often fluid. The exhibition celebrates the ritual and social uses of liquids including sake (rice wine), toddy, water and the mighty Asian drink that has conquered the world – tea.

The display features vessels for drinking, pouring and performing religious offerings, as well as depictions showing their use in paintings and prints, covering their significance in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, as well as traditional Chinese and Japanese religious practices.

The social side of liquids is revealed in sections on revelry and intoxication. These include stories of consumption of sake in the pleasure districts of Tokyo, alcohol in the Mughal courts of India and drinking games in China. The exhibition also uncovers the spread of tea across Asia, its use in the iconic Japanese tea ceremony and how butter tea is drunk in Tibet.

Stoneware kendi

Stoneware kendi painted with four-clawed dragon. Vietnam, c. 1440–1480.