Temari Ball Yarn

Temari (手まり) balls are a folk craft that originated in China and was introduced to Japan around the 7th century A.D. "Temari" means "hand ball" in Japanese. Historically, temari were constructed from the remnants of old kimonos. Pieces of silk fabric would be wadded up to form a ball, and then the wad would be wrapped with strips of fabric. As time passed, traditional temari became an art, with the functional stitching becoming more decorative and detailed, until the balls displayed intricate embroidery. Temari became an art and craft of the Japanese upper class and aristocracy, and noble women competed in creating increasingly beautiful and intricate objects.

It is part of our Modern Languages Departmental Collection, and can currently be found displayed in Cheney School's main reception.

Daruma Lucky God

The Daruma doll (達磨) is a hollow, round, traditional Japanese doll modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. These dolls are typically red and depicting a bearded man (Dharma), but colour and design depend on the region and the artist. Daruma has a design that is richly symbolic and is regarded as a talisman of good luck to the Japanese. Daruma dolls are seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck, making them a popular gift of encouragement. When purchased, the eyes are white so a person can decide on a goal or wish and paint one eye in. Once the goal is achieved, the second eye is filled in.

It is part of our Modern Languages Departmental Collection, and can currently be found displayed in Cheney School's main reception.

Sakura Cups

Sakura is the Japanese word for cherry blossom, which blooms across Japan between March and May each year.  During cherry blossom season, people head out into local parks and gardens for a "hanami" (flower-viewing). During this period, public places take on a party-like atmosphere. 
In ancient Japan, cherry blossom had great importance because it announced the rice-planting season and was used to divine the year's harvest. Its fleeting beauty was celebrated as a metaphor for life, and it was praised in numerous poems. The Japanese believed the sakura trees contained spirits, and made offerings to them with rice wine.

These cups are part of our Modern Languages Departmental Collection, and can currently be found displayed in Cheney School's main reception.

Art Nouveau Jewellery Box

This Art Nouveau Jewellery Box is part of our Modern Foreign Languages Department collection.
This is a replica of a lavishly embellished work created in the Art Nouveau style of French artist Émile Gallé. Émile Gallé (8 May 1846 – 23 September 1904) was a French artist who worked in glass, and is considered to be one of the major forces in the French Art Nouveau movement. Art Nouveau is an international style of art and architecture that was most popular between 1890 and 1910. A reaction to the academic art of the 19th century, it was inspired by natural forms and structures, not only in flowers and plants, but also in curved lines.
The movement was committed to abolishing the traditional hierarchy of the arts, which viewed the so-called liberal arts, such as painting and sculpture, as superior to craft-based decorative arts. The style went out of fashion for the most part long before the First World War, paving the way for the development of Art Deco in the 1920s, but it experienced a popular revival in the 1960s, and it is now seen as an important predecessor - if not an integral component - of modernism.

Russian Dolls

This set of Russian nesting dolls belongs to our Modern Foreign Languages Department collection.

A matryoshka doll is a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside another. The name "matryoshka" (матрёшка), literally "little matron", is a diminutive form of Russian female first name "Matryona" (Матрёна). The first Russian nested doll set was made in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin from a design by Sergey Malyutin, who was a folk crafts painter at Abramtsevo.

Matryoshka dolls often follow a particular theme. Originally, themes were often drawn from tradition or fairy tale characters, in keeping with the craft tradition—but since the 20th century, they have embraced a larger range, including Soviet leaders. Modern artists create many new styles of nesting dolls. Common themes include floral, Christmas, Easter, religious, animal collections, portraits and caricatures of famous politicians, musicians, athletes, astronauts, "robots," and popular movie stars. Matryoshka dolls that featured communist leaders of Russia became very popular among Russian people in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Nautical Sextant

This nautical sextant is part of our Science Department collection.

A sextant is an instrument that measures the angle between two objects that are visible. Primarily, it is used to measure the angle between a celestial body and the horizon. The angle measured and the time at which it was measured is then used to identify the location of the user on the grid map of the world. 

The principle of the instrument was invented by Sir Isaac Newton during his life time but the actual tool was developed later on by John Hadley and Thomas Godfrey in 1730.

The sextant consists of a telescope, a horizontal mirror which the telescope "looks" through, and a moving arm on which the index mirror is fixed. By manipulating this arm a star or other celestial body can be made to appear on the horizon. Accurate adjustments are made by means of a micrometer knob. The angle can then be read off the arc and micrometer. The shades are used when the object being looked at is bright - such as the sun.

Minoan Octopus Jar

This replica Minoan octopus jar is part of our Classics Centre collection.

This particular style is called a "stirrup" jar, because of the inverted stirrup-shape of the handles. Its fluid octopus design is typical of the Late Minoan period (1500BC). Marine motifs, like the octopus, work well on a variety of vase shapes, because their shapes are simple, irregular and sinuous and translate well to two-dimensional representation.

The Late Minoan period reached a high point in foreign expansion and vigorous economic activity. The pottery of this period is characterised by an exuberant joy in nature; the motifs are naturalistic and there is a great sense of movement. There is no three-dimensional illusionism; the impact of the painting comes from the shapes of the motifs and their relationship to the vessel’s shape and contours. The marine style is also characterised by the desire to fill every available space with some ornamentation.

The original of this piece, found in the palace at Knossos, is in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Heraklion on Crete and dates to ca 1500 BC. There is a similar one in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Stenopterygius skull

This is a replica fossil of a "stenopterygius skull" of a juvenile icthyosaur. It is an extinct genus of thunnosaur ichthyosaur known from Europe. it is part of the Science Department collection.

Its skull was extended into a kind of a beak and was armed with a quantity of large teeth. 

It spent most of its life in the open sea, where it hunted fish and other animals. The abdominal cavity of skeletons of this ichthyosaur often contains the remains of such food. One famous fossil is that of a mother and baby that died in childbirth. This proved that ichthyosaur infants were born tail-first, to prevent them from drowning before fully clearing the birth canal.

Stenopterygius was a very fast swimmer, with a cruising speed similar to that of tuna, which is among the fastest of all living fishes.

Minoan Snake Goddess

Our replica Minoan Snake Goddess is part of our Classics Centre collection.

These figurines, depicting a woman holding a snake in each hand, were found in Minoan archaeological sites in Crete. The first two of such figurines (both incomplete) were found by the British archaeologist Arthur Evans and date to the neo-palatial period of Minoan civilization, ca. 1700–1450 BC. Evans called the larger of his pair of figurines a "Snake Goddess", the smaller a "Snake Priestess"; since then, it has been debated whether Evans was right, or whether both figurines depicts priestesses, or both depict the same deity or different deities.

The figurines were found only in house sanctuaries, where the figurine appears as "the goddess of the household". They are made of faience, a technique for glazing earthenware and other ceramic vessels by using a quartz paste. This material symbolized in old Egypt the renewal of life, therefore it was used in the funeral cult and in the sanctuaries. After firing this produces bright colors and a lustrous sheen. It is possible that they illustrate the fashion of dress of Minoan women: a tight bodice which left the breasts bare, a long flounced skirt, and an apron made of material with embroidered or woven decoration.

Protolindenia Wittei Dragonfly

This is a replica fossil of a "protolindenia wittei" dragonfly that lived in the Jurassic period around 135 million years ago. These dragonflies had wingspans of about 15cm. It is part of the Science Department collection.
Adult dragonflies are characterized by large multifaceted eyes, and two pairs of strong transparent wings, sometimes with coloured patches and an elongated body. Many dragonflies have brilliant iridescent or metallic colours, making them conspicuous in flight.
Fossils of very large dragonfly ancestors have been found from 325 million years ago (Mya) in Upper Carboniferous rocks; these had wingspans up to about 75cm.
Dragonflies are represented in human culture on artifacts such as pottery, rock paintings, and Art Nouveau jewellery. They are used in traditional medicine in Japan and China, and caught for food in Indonesia. They are symbols of courage, strength, and happiness in Japan, but seen as sinister in European folklore.

Phaistos Disc

Our replica of the Phaistos Disc is part of our classics centre collection.

The Phaistos Disc consists of fired clay and is about 15 centimeters in diameter. It was found on 3 July, 1908 during excavation of the Minoan palace of Phaistos, near the south coast of Crete. The disc is one of the most famous Bronze Age finds and one of the great mysteries of Mediterranean archaeology. It contains over 240 spirally arranged human, animal and plant motifs that were printed with individual stamps. Its sophisticated manufacturing technology with movable type is in direct contrast to the uniqueness of the find. The use of reusable stamps only makes sense if used several times or even frequently. Practically everything that concerns the disc is controversial; this even includes the orientation of the writing and the language used.

The Minoan Civilisation flourished from about 2600 to 1100 BC on the island of Crete and surrounding islands. The civilisation was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of British archaeologist Arthur Evans. It has been described as the earliest of its kind in Europe.

The term "Minoan" refers to the mythical King Minos. Minos was associated in Greek mythology with the labyrinth and the Minotaur, which Evans identified with the site at Knossos (the largest Minoan site). According to Homer, Crete once had 90 cities.

Replica Corinthian Helmet

This type of helmet is known as a 'Corinthian helmet' by archaeologists because the goddess Athena is shown wearing it on Corinthian coins from its period of use (7th - 3rd Century BC). This style of helmet was also frequently featured on the decorative vases. 

This replica helmet was created based on an original Italo Corinthian style helmet that can be seen in the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford (more detail here). The original has a large hole in the temple, presumably the result of battle. This helmet was created especially for the Museum and Iris Classics Centre at Cheney by Matt Lukes at Fabrica Romanorum. At some of our events, members of the public are able to try this helmet on!