This exhibition at the main building of the Benaki Museum, opening tomorrow September 25th, 2013, focuses on a group of fascinating, multi-faceted 19th century objects from the field of the decorative and applied arts: the ornamented trays produced during the Indian summer of the japanning industry in Europe, which are today prized treasures of private and museum collections in Greece and Turkey.

Once an essential part of the rituals of daily life in the Ottoman empire and the newly founded Greek Kingdom – the serving of coffee and syrupy ‘spoon’ sweets but also the elaborate rituals of hospitality enacted over the partaking of meals – these objects, hitherto unpublished and under-researched, are laden with the complex socio-cultural history of their times.

This exhibition aims at an inter-disciplinary reading which looks into their iconography and function, the techniques of manufacture and places of production, the commercial routes that brought these coveted wares to the ‘east’ and the homes of their intended audience; all while simultaneously recording the contemporary ‘voices’ (both literary and visual) that document their existence – and the stories told by the objects themselves. What emerges is a kaleidoscope of colors, flavors and meanings that lie beneath the surface of these objects which balance deliciously between east and west, oriental and occidental, functional and ornamental.

Curators: Flavia Nessi-Yazitzoglou, Myrto Hatzaki

Within the framework of this exhibition various events will be taking place. Guided tours to the exhibition will be carried out by Xenia Politou, the curator of the Neo-hellenic Collection, on specific dates in October and November. Guided tours are available in Greek. Also, a special gastronomic night dedicated to the tastes of Constantinople, will be organized by the Main Building restaurant (1 Koumbari st), on Thursday, October 10th, 2013. Information-reservations for the special gastronomic night: Benaki Museum, T +30 210 3671 000 internal line 3 (Wednesday, Friday: 9:00-16:30, Thursday, Saturday: 9:00-23:00 & Sunday: 9:00-14:30).

Duration: October 25 – November 17, 2013