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St Alfege

Pytney bridge (part three)

Eclairs with fresh cream and raspberries

Bronze group of a bull and acrobat

The Liberty of the Clink

Papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Nedjmet

A new era in tea

Cuneiform tablet recording food supplies

South Kensington

The Grenadier Guards

The queen of vintage - Hilary Proctor

The Murders Begin

Chigwell

Blacas ewer

Ealing Common

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Head from a statue of the Buddha


As shown on previous pages, in early Buddhism it was not thought appropriate to represent the Buddha in human form. The images of the Buddha so familiar today did not begin to appear until the first to third centuries AD, over 500 years after the Buddha’s death. This early image of the Buddha was made in Gandhara, an area that today is in Pakistan and Afganistan.
Hinton St Mary mosaic

This magnificent mosaic floor contains what is thought to be one of the earliest representations of Christ in human form in the history of Christian art. It was made 300 years after the religion began, when Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire. Before this time, Christians represented Christ through symbols. The mosaic floor was made for a large villa in Britain and the design reflects how old pagan beliefs were blended with the new religion.
Icon of the Triumph of Orthodoxy


This Christian icon, a devotional image from the Orthodox tradition, is itself a picture of another icon and celebrates the end of a period in Orthodox Christianity when the use of icons and other religious images were banned and destroyed.
Limestone panel depicting the Buddhapada

In early Buddhism, images of the historical Buddha as a human figure were not considered appropriate. Instead the Buddha was represented through symbols such as those on this relief, which depicts the Buddhapada (Buddha’s footprints). The “lotus feet” of gods and gurus are still revered in India today, and worshippers are expected to have bare feet in temples, shrines and private houses. The Buddha’s feet can be identified by their characteristic toes of equal length.
Seeing the Divine

All around the Museum are images of gods, goddesses, saints, and figures from the myths and religious texts of almost every culture in the world. These range from great works of art to simple crafted artefacts, pieces that may have taken months to create or mass-produced as cheap objects for daily devotion. This plethora of pictures, statues and sacred objects reveals the central importance of the role religion has played in human life for at least the last 40 000 years.
James Gillray (1756-1815), Promis’d Horrors of the French Invasion, -or- Forcible Reasons for Negociating a Regicide Peace

The British Museum holds one of the world’s largest collections of prints. Some of the most famous are political satires and prints from the time of the French Revolution and subsequent wars against Napoleon. In this example, James Gillray is presenting a nightmare image of French soldiers in London after a successful invasion of Britain.
Scene from a satirical papyrus

This satirical picture comes from a 3000-year-old document painted in Egypt during the Twentieth Dynasty (about 1186-1069 BC). It is one of several fragmentary papyri possibly found at the site of Deir el-Medina. These papyri form a unique collection of artistic works satirizing society during the reigns of the last Ramesside kings. The scenes are parodies showing animals undertaking human activities.
Ivory salt cellar

This ornate ivory salt cellar is evidence for different links of trade between Europe and West Africa a thousand years after the pepper pot on the previous page was used. It would have graced the table of a wealthy European family in the 1500s. The carvings show four Europeans, probably Portuguese, along the base. On the lid, in a boat, is a fifth figure holding a telescope.
“Empress” pepper pot from the Hoxne hoard

Pepper and spices have been highly valued and traded for thousands of years. This ornate Roman gilded silver pepper pot was one of four pepper pots found in the Hoxne hoard, the richest find of treasure ever found in Britain.
Brass head with beaded crown and plume

These objects reveal different aspects of the cultures and history of West Africa in the XII to XV centuries. This striking brass sculpture represents a ruler (oni) from Ife, capital state of the Yoruba peoples, on the River Niger in southwestern Nigeria. The head was probably used in funerary ceremonies and may have been attached to a wooden figure. Ife was one of several powerful states and empires in West Africa during this period.