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Sandstone stele with a figure of Harihara

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London bridge (part ten)

West Ruislip

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“When will they lern, Dear ol Boss?”

Date and walnut loaf

Millennium Bridge (part three)

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Bird kite

This is the oldest surviving example of a Maori bird kite. Maori kites were made of a light wooden framework covered with imported cloth. Before cloth was introduced they were covered in barkcloth. Bird kites were generally given a human rather than a bird’s head, on this example made from a contoured mask with shell eyes.
Relief panel from the Harpy Tomb


This panel is from a monument known as the Harpy Tomb after the female-headed birds carved at its corners. They are perhaps better identified as sirens, escorts to the dead. The small figures they carry may represent the souls of the dead.
Lead pilgrim badge depicting St. George and the dragon

Going on pilgrimage was an important part of Christian life in medieval Europe. Pilgrims often travelled hundreds or even thousands of miles to visit a saint’s shrine. Some just wished to be close to the remains of the saint, while others hoped to find miraculous cures or forgiveness for sins.
Edward Burne-Jones (1833-98), St. George fighting the Dragon

This carefully finished pencil drawing is one of a number of studies for a series of seven paintings illustrating the legend of St. George, patron saint of England. The series was commissioned to decorate the house of artist Miles Birkett Foster at Witley in Surrey. The painting to which this drawing relates is now in the Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, while others are in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Forbes Collection in New York, and the Bristol Art Gallery.
Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), St. George and the Dragon


The artist Lucas Cranach the Elder created many different images of St. George and the Dragon, reflecting how popular St. George was as subject matter for many late medieval and Renaissance artists in Europe.
Icon of St. George (“The Black George”)


The next few pages all show images of the Christian saint George slaying the dragon. These are just four of the many different versions of this image across the Museum.
Cloisonné jar

In Chinese art the dragon has a long snake-like body and, unlike dragons in European cultures, is seen as auspicious, not evil. Dragons were particularly associated with imperial power and authority. Imperial dragons, such as the dragon on this bronze jar, are often yellow or golden coloured and always have five claws.
Articulated model dragon, signed by Myochin Kioharu
One of many images of dragons from different cultures in the Museum, this dragon comes from Japan. The fall of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1867 brought an end to the traditional warrior-based politics of Japan. As demand for armour decreased, many blacksmiths adapted their skills to making articulated iron models of animals. These were probably ornaments placed in the tokonoma (an alcove in the reception room of a house). They are astonishingly detailed and were created to display the technical virtuosity and artistic expertise of the maker.
Ship’s figurehead

This figurehead was discovered in 1934 and for a long time was widely thought to be from a Viking ship of the IX to XI centuries. A few doubts, however, were raised about the style, and in 1970 the Museum’s Research Laboratory undertook carbon-14 dating of the wood. The results left little doubt that the figurehead was carved much earlier than previously thought and did not come from Viking ship.
Turquoise mosaic of a double-headed serpent

This ornament is an icon of Aztec art. It was probably worn on ceremonial occasions as a pectoral (chest ornament). It is carved in wood and covered with turquoise mosaic. The eye sockets were probably originally inlaid with iron pyrites and shell. Red and white shell was used to add details to the nose and mouth of both serpent heads.