Hong Kong’s first and most comprehensive exhibition of Persian decorative arts has just opened at the Liang Yi Museum, coinciding with the start of the Persian New Year.

The Blue Road: Mastercrafts from Persia” showcases 94 carefully selected artifacts, ranging from glass, ceramic, textiles, and paintings to manuscripts, all illuminating the significant role of the color blue in the visual and material culture of Iran.

“The color personifies a timeless quality in Persian history,” said the museum, “and the impact made on the shaping of other artistic traditions in Asia and beyond.”

The exhibition has been put together in collaboration with 11 prestigious institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum in the U.K., the David Collection in Denmark, the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore, the Doris Duke Foundation of Islamic Art, and the Freer and Sackler Gallery Archives in the U.S.

“Iranian culture and the Persian empire have long been a topic of fascination for me,” said Lynn Fung, the director of Hong Kong’s Liang Yi Museum. “But it was when I visited the country in January of 2017 that it really solidified into a concrete idea for an exhibition at Liang Yi Museum.”

Ms. Fung is the daughter of the Hong Kong tycoon and Chinese antique collector Peter Fung who built his fortune as head of an investment company and began collecting in the 1980s.  She grew up surrounded by her father’s collection of Ming and Qing dynasty furniture, now housed in the museum she heads, along with bejeweled, early-20th-century Cartier and Boucheron vanity boxes.

When Ms. Fung set out to focus on Persian decorative objects, it became obvious to her that blue-and-white ceramics would be a topic of immense local interest.  “A lot of people think of blue-and-white ceramics as being inherently Chinese,” she said. “However, blue glazing actually first became popular in Middle Eastern ceramics in the ninth and tenth centuries, and only spread eastward to China along the Silk Road and became refined as Chinese porcelain in the Yuan (1271-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties.”

Liang Yi Museum “The Blue Road” Mastercrafts from Persia installation

Curated by Dr. Yuka Kadoi, “The Blue Road: Mastercrafts from Persia is divided into six sections that all look at the various uses of the color blue: in Ancient Near Eastern and Islamic Traditions; in Ceramics; in Architectural Decoration; in Textiles and Carpets; in Glass and Other Portable Objects; and in Manuscript Illumination and Painting.

Dr. Kadoi is an art historian who studied Islamic art at the University of Edinburgh and has a particular expertise in the art and material culture of the Persian world after the 7th century.   Dr. Kadoi has held curatorial and research positions including at Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art and Chicago’s Art Institute.

Liang Yi Museum “The Blue Road” Mastercrafts from Persia installation

Opened in March 2014, the Liang Yi Museum is Hong Kong’s largest private museum, housing a world-class collection of Chinese antique furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as the world’s most extensive collection of European vanities. It differs from other public museums in that it operates by appointment only, with visitors shown around in small groups by knowledgeable experts and encouraged to touch and experience the furniture on display.

“The Blue Road: Mastercrafts from Persia” runs until June 24. Complementing the exhibition will be a gallery dedicated to the museum’s collection of jeweled vanity boxes, with over 80 lapis lazuli, sapphire, enamel and turquoise vanities, marking the final stop on the Blue Road.