Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Faces of China: Portrait Painting of the Ming and Qing Dynasties

Faces of China
Portrait Painting of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368–1912)

12.10.2017 to 07.01.2018 
Kulturforum Berlin Germany

Faces of China is the first exhibition explicitly dedicated to Chinese portrait painting. A selection of more than 100 paintings from the collections of the Palace Museum Beijing and the Royal Ontario Museum Toronto, most of which have never been shown in Europe, spans a period of more than 500 years. The main focus is on the unique portraits of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912), including images of members of the imperial court, ancestors, military figures, and informal portraits of artists and famous women. These portraits evidence a blossoming of the genre that had never been seen before.
Portrait painting has a 2000-year-old tradition in China. Beginning in the middle of 16th century, the late Ming Dynasty brought with it an economic boom and great intellectual openness that spurred a significant moment of florescence. It was in this period that Italian Jesuit painters visited the country, such as Matteo Ricci, who brought new techniques of European portrait painting with him in 1583. After the Manchu people conquered China in 1644 and established the Qing Dynasty, the imperial court in Beijing was host to a lively cultural exchange between China and Europe. This is particularly well reflected in the portrait paintings. The Jesuit painter Giuseppe Castiglione (Chinese name: Lang Shining; Milan 1688 –Beijing 1766) is a key figure of this period.

Portrait traditions - The Livinig and the Dead
Chinese portrait painting is characterized by two traditions of representation: images of ancestors and images of living figures. Ancestor portraits were created to honor deceased family members, who were venerated as part of religious observance within the family. Most were painted by professional but anonymous artists and are unsigned. On the other hand, there are portraits signed by often famous artists depicting well-known figures, such as officials, artists, poets, or those in the military, along with ordinary citizens shown in both single and group family portraits.
In exhibitions on Chinese portrait painting to date, only one of these traditions of representation has always been the central theme. However, Faces of China is deliberately dedicated to both of these two traditions, as developments in one always informed developments in the other. While the upper exhibition hall is dedicated to portraits of princely figures, officials, and artists, the focus in the galleries on the lower exhibition hall is on private individuals, families, and ancestral portraits.

Contexts of the Portraits - Clothes, Technique, Europe
The works are placed in carefully chosen relationships in light of their original social and religious contexts, as well as their circumstances of production. Thus, large-scale imperial portraits are surrounded by imperial silk garments once worn in the Palace—both groups of objects are on loan from the Palace Museum Beijing. The ancestor portraits—loans from the Royal Ontario Museum Toronto—are placed alongside an altar table with a censer, candlesticks, and flower vases, intended for honoring deceased relatives. Further objects on display come from the extensive Chinese collections of the Staatliche Museen’s own Ethnologisches Museum and Museum für Asiatische Kunst.
A collection of 365 preparatory studies for ancestral portraits that have never gone on display before, along with a series of presentation pieces in album form that artists showed potential clients as a way of sampling their wares, offers insight into workshop practices of the time. Also included in this collection are handbooks for portrait painters with woodcut illustrations, such as Ding Gao’s Secret Workshop Traditions of Portrait Painting, which not only gives details on technique, but also explores scientific approaches to the art of portraiture, such as physiognomy.
In addition, the exhibition deliberately highlights transcultural relationships to European portraiture by placing the Chinese portraits alongside a handful of European masterworks from the same time. So Anthony van Dyck’s Portrait of a Genovese Lady (ca. 1623) from the collection of the Gemäldegalerie appears next to a Chinese portrait of similarly large dimensions and from the same time, depicting a male ancestor.

An exhibition organized by the Museum für Asiatische Kunst – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Palace Museum Beijing, in cooperation with the Royal Ontario Museum Toronto
An extensive catalogue, published by Imhof Verlag, will accompany the exhibition.
Faces of China. Portrait Painting of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368–1912) has received generous support from The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation.

Friday, 24 November 2017

"World Heritage along the Silk Road" in Hong Kong Museum of History from 29.11.2017- 5.3.2018

Miles upon Miles: World Heritage along the Silk Road 

During the Western Han dynasty, Zhang Qian, a Chinese imperial envoy, was sent to Central Asia (traditionally known as the Western Regions) in the 2nd century BC. His mission provided the Chinese with knowledge about Central Asia and beyond, and opened up a trade network linking China to Central, West and South Asia, North Africa and areas lining the Mediterranean coast. Until the 16th century, this network had played a significant role in fostering the economic, cultural, religious and technological exchange among countries in the East and the West. This ancient trade route, known as the Silk Road, measured 10,000 kilometres from east to west, and 3,000 kilometres from north to south. In 2014 with the joint efforts of China, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor of the Silk Road stretching from Chang'an (present day Xi'an) in China to Central Asia was listed as UNESCO World Heritage, testifying to its historical and cultural significance.
This exhibition is one of the highlight programmes of the Hong Kong Government to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It is also a major programme of the 10th Asia Cultural Co-operation Forum. The focus of this exhibition is on the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor of the Silk Road which spans four mainland provinces (Shaanxi, Henan, Gansu and Xinjiang), Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Showcasing the cultural relics from China, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, the exhibition aims at illustrating the historical and cultural significance of this Routes Network. Some 160 items/sets of invaluable artefacts have been selected from the four mainland provinces for display at the exhibition, over 50% of which are Grade-I National Treasures, while over 50 items/sets of artefacts will come from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. These exhibits include jadeware, textiles, sancai figurines, gold and silverware, bronze ware and large-scale murals. The exhibition will also be complemented by multimedia programmes and interactive elements to enrich visitors' learning experience.
The Museum offers public guided tours from 7 December (Thursday) onwards. Each tour lasts about 1 hour and admits 30 persons on a first come, first served basis.
Audio Guide Service is available in Cantonese, English and Putonghua to introduce the exhibit highlights. Please check out details with the Audio Guide Service Counter on 1/F Lobby.

Gilt bronze silkworm
Han dynasty
Collection of Shaanxi History Museum
Gold mythical beast
Warring States period
Collection of Shaanxi History Museum
Mural of camel and Central Asian cameleer
Tang dynasty
Collection of Luoyang Ancient Art Museum
Costume of an aristocrat from a tomb at Yingpan
Han to Jin dynasty
Collection of Xinjiang Archaeological Research Institute
Light yellow glass bottle with plate-mouth and slender neck
Tang dynasty
Collection of Famen Temple Museum
Clothing and weaponry of the Golden Man (replica)
4th century BC
Collection of National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Lamp in the shape of an altar with figures of horsemen and animals
2nd - 1st century BC
Collection of National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan
"Sancai" glazed camel and Central Asian cameleer
Tang dynasty
Collection of Gansu Provincial Museum
Buddhist stone carving
8th - 10th century AD
Collection of Chigu Museum of History and Archaeology
"Sancai" glazed horse with white speckles over blue glaze
Tang dynasty
Collection of Luoyang Museum

Monday, 20 November 2017

800-Year-Old Tombs Tell the Story of an Ancient Chinese Couple

From: LiveScience by Owen Jarus November 20, 2017

800-Year-Old Tombs Tell the Story of an Ancient Chinese Couple
Here, the rear wall of the coffin chamber in née Wu's tomb.
Credit: Photo courtesy Chinese Cultural Relics

Two 800-year-old tombs belonging to a man named Lord Hu Hong and his wife née Wu, who carried the title Lady of Virtue, have been discovered at a construction site in Qingyuan County, in China's Zhejiang province.
An inscription says that Hu Hong is the "Grand Master for Thorough Counsel." He and née Wu lived at a time when China was divided between two dynasties, with Hu Hong serving the southern Song dynasty that controlled southern China, according to the researchers who described the findings.
The lengthy inscription discussing Hu Hong's life was found inside his tomb. A translation of the inscription states that it "has been inscribed on this stone to be treasured here, in the hope it will last as long as heaven and earth!" 
Among Hu Hong's many duties was, in 1195, becoming "Investigating Censor prosecuting the treacherous and the heretical, with awe-inspiring justice," the inscription says. Historical records say that in 1195, the government launched a crackdown on a religious group called the Tao-hsueh, who criticized Chinese senior officials and emperors for drinking alcohol and having multiple wives and concubines according to a number of researchers who have written about this time period.
Jianming Zheng, a researcher with the Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, led the team of archaeologists who excavated the tombs. They discovered that Hu Hong's tomb had been robbed, but née Wu's tomb hadn’t. While inscriptions were found inside both tombs, the inscription in née Wu's tomb is illegible, archaeologists said.

Their bodies had almost completely decayed. A large amount of mercury was found within née Wu's tomb that "was probably used [unsuccessfully] to prevent decomposition," the archaeologists wrote in their journal article.
Inside both tombs, the archaeologists found porcelain jars decorated with elephant designs. And inside née Wu's tomb, they also discovered gold jewelry, gold combs, gold and silver hairpins and a crystal disc. [Photos: Terracotta Warriors Protect Secret Tomb]
This gold pendant was also found in née Wu's tomb. Archaeologists believe that it would have been attached to a vest.
Hu Hong was born in April 1147, and according to the inscription and historical records, his family was poor. His father taught Confucianism to the public, and his earlier ancestors were refugees who moved to Longquan County (which is near Qingyuan County) after much of China was engulfed in civil war during the 10th century, according to the inscription.
"Hu Hong loved learning, but his family was poor and had no money to buy books. When there were book peddlers passing by, he would borrow the books, read them overnight and return them the next day," the "Gazetteer of Chuzhou Prefecture," which was a text published in 1486, reads in translation.
Apparently, he showed "outstanding talent" as a child in school and, in 1163, passed a competitive series of government exams to get a junior position in the government according to the inscription found in Hu Hong’s tomb. He then rose gradually through the ranks. His career got a boost in 1179, when he agreed to serve on the southern Song dynasty's northern borders. In 1193, the government recognized him as "best county magistrate of the year," the inscription says.
As the "investigating censor," Hu Hong prosecuted the "treacherous and the heretical" in 1195, the inscription says. He was made a military commissioner in 1200 and was charged with defeating a group of rebels. "At the time, the Yao tribes were rebellious, and he stamped the rebels out," the inscription says. Today, the Yao live in China and Southeast Asia.
In his final years, Hu Hong was growing critical of his own government, and retired not long after 1200. "He knew that he was beyond his prime and insisted on retiring. Had he kept being outspoken, he would have been pushed out," the inscription says. [In Photos: 1,000-Year-Old Tomb With Colorful Murals Discovered in China]
"Although worried about current affairs and concerned with the moral decline of the time, and though he could not easily let go, he no longer had the energy to fight and serve," the inscription says. He died in 1203, and his wife died in 1206. Their tombs were built side by side. Hu Hong and née Wu had two sons, three daughters and two granddaughters, the inscription says.
The two tombs were discovered in March 2014. An article reporting the discovery was published in Chinese, in 2015 in the journal Wenwu. Recently, the article was translated into English and published in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.

Beyond Scrolls and Codices: Manuscript Formats on the EasternSilk Road

Recording of one of the Mellon Sawyer lectures on Friday December 2, 2016

by Susan Whitfield
Director, International Dunhuang Project, British Library (IDP)

“Beyond Scrolls and Codices: Manuscript Formats on the Eastern Silk Road”

Manuscripts in the tens of thousand have been excavated from first millennium AD sites of the eastern Silk Road. On various local media — birchbark, wood, palm leaf, silk, paper and others — and in over twenty languages and scripts, they reflect the diversity of the cultures in this period and place. This paper introduces the range of manuscript formats, materials, languages and scripts, and discuss their diffusion along the Silk Road. It also considers the lack of diffusion of some unique formats used in specific contexts and only found for relatively brief periods.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

First results of the long term project on Kucha wall paintings in Leipzig on 24.11.2017

Monika Zin and Ines Konczak-Nagel present first results of the long term project on Kucha wall paintings in Leipzig on 24.11.2017 https://www.

von 11:15 bis 13:00
WoSächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Karl-Tauchnitz-Str. 1, 04107 Leipzig
Termin übernehmeniCal

Am Rande der Wüste – Buddhistischen Malereien der Kuča-Oase (ca. 5.-10. Jh.)

Prof. Dr. Monika Zin
Wenn der Buddha ins Nirvāṇa geht. Vorstellungen zum Fortbestehen der Lehre anhand der Malereien von Kuča
Dr. Ines Konczak-Nagel
Darstellung indischer Städte in den Malereien Kučas
Mit anschließender Diskussion. 
Interessenten sind herzlich willkommen.

Die buddhistischen Höhlenanlagen der an der Nördlichen Seidenstraße gelegenen Kuča-Region (Uigurisches Autonomes Gebiet Xinjiang, VR China) wurden insbesondere wegen ihrer beeindruckenden Wandmalereien im Jahr 2014 ins UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe aufgenommen. Die ca. zwischen dem 5. und 10. Jh. entstanden Malereien gehören zu den wichtigsten Quellen für die Erforschung der transkulturellen Vernetzung des antiken Königreichs von Kuča. Denn obwohl sie in enger Beziehung zur Kunst Indiens stehen, sind sie in einem Stil ausgearbeitet, der gemischt ist mit Elementen aus dem Mittelmeer- und dem syrisch-iranischen Raum sowie später aus Ostasien. Die Malereien zeigen narrative und devotionale Themen, wie Szenen buddhistischer Erzählungen und Legenden oder Bildnisse von Buddhas, Bodhisatvas und Gottheiten. Darüber hinaus enthalten sie Darstellungen rein dekorativer Natur, wie stilisierte Landschaften, Architekturdarstellungen und eine Vielzahl von Ornamenten. Die Analyse der Malereien in Bezug auf ihre Bildinhalte und -elemente ermöglicht Aussagen über die kulturellen Prozesse, die mit der Ausbreitung des Buddhismus nach Zentralasien und China verbunden waren.
Da viele der Malereien von den Preußischen „Turfan-Expeditionen“ in dieses Gebiet zwischen 1902 und 1914 zerstört wurden, indem sie große Teile abnahmen und nach Berlin brachten, ist es eine der Aufgaben des Projekts, den ursprünglichen Kontext der in Berlin aufbewahrten Malereifragmente virtuell zu rekonstruieren. Die Erschließung des gesamten Expeditionsmaterials, zu dem neben den Originalen auch Fotos der Höhlen und von im Krieg in Berlin zerstörten bzw. nach St. Petersburg verbrachten Malereien sowie zahlreiche weitere Dokumente der Expeditionen zählen, soll der Verantwortung für dieses einzigartige Kulturgut gerecht werden

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

New book by Susan Whitfield

Silk, Slaves, and Stupas: Material Culture of the Silk Road 

by Susan Whitfield

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (10 April 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520281772

Following her bestselling Life Along the Silk Road, Susan Whitfield widens her exploration of the great cultural highway with another captivating portrait through the experience of things. Silk, Slaves, and Stupas tells the stories of ten very different objects, considering their interaction with the peoples and cultures of the Silk Road-those who made them, carried them, received them, used them, sold them, worshipped them, and, in more recent times, bought them, conserved them, and curated them. From a delicate pair of earrings from a steppe tomb to a massive stupa deep in Central Asia, a hoard of Kushan coins stored in an Ethiopian monastery to a Hellenistic glass bowl from a southern Chinese tomb, and a fragment of Byzantine silk wrapping the bones of a French saint to a Bactrian ewer depicting episodes from the Trojan War, these objects show us something of the cultural diversity and interaction along these trading routes of Afro-Eurasia. Exploring the labor, tools, materials, and rituals behind these various objects, Whitfield infuses her narrative with delightful details as the objects journey through time, space, and meaning. Silk, Slaves, and Stupas is a lively and unique approach to understanding the Silk Road and the cultural, economic, and technical changes of the late antiquity and medieval periods.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Textiles of the Silk Road. Design and Decorative Techniques: From Far East to Europe

The Artistic Traditions of Non-European Cultures, vol. 4

The Artistic Traditions of Non-European Cultures, vol. 4
Textiles of the Silk Road. Design and Decorative Techniques: From Far East to Europe

edited by Beata Biedrońska-Słota and Aleksandra Görlich

ISBN: 2450-5692
Format: 17 x 24
Liczba stron: 179
Oprawa miękka 

Silk Road is one of the most important trade routes connecting the Far East with the West. Stretched from Japan to the countries of Western Europe it also became one of the most important cultural exchange routes in history. It has been a subject of studies in various fields of research. Presented here are studies concerning textiles of the Silk Road.
Fifteen articles collected in the 4th volume of The Artistic Traditions of Non-European Cultures were presented at the international conference Textiles of the Silk Road. Design and Decorative Techniques: From Far East to Europe organized by the Krakow Branch of Polish Institute of World Art Studies and the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology. They are divided into four parts reflecting geographical and technical scope of their subjects: East Asia, Central Asia, From Central Asia to Middle East and Europe – Influences, and Technique and Tradition Throughout Asia. They are presented by art historians and experts of related disciplines from Poland, Ukraine,  Sweden, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Japan.
This publication is a collection of articles presenting traditions of various designs and decorative techniques spreading through the Silk Road from Far East to Europe, their connections and the way they developed. It also presents a condition of this heritage and its role in the realm of modern fashion and textile design.

Table of contents


Małgorzata Martini, Kumihimo: An Ancient Art or a Present–Day One? The Gifts of Mrs Midori Suzuki to the Japanese Art Collection in Krakow

Barbara Szewczyk, “How the Kimono Released Women from Corsets” – Japonism in Fashion at the Turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries

Anna Bielak, The Kimono as a Fashion Phenomenon in Modern Japan and Beyond

Maria Cybulska, Tomasz Dróżdż, Traditional Japanese Shibori and Contemporary Textile Design

Joanna Bodzek, To [Mend] * A Reflection on the Lee Edelkoort Anti-Fashion Manifesto, the Kimono Reconstruction Project – My Personal Vision on How Mended Clothes Can Mean “Style” in the Future and How This is Connected with the Boro Textiles of Japan

Ewa Orlińska-Mianowska, Reception of the Orient in the Eighteenth-Century European Silk Industry


Marta Żuchowska, Transferring Patterns Along the Silk Road: Vine and Grape Motifs on Chinese Silks in the 1st Millennium AD

Paweł Janik, The Faces from Noin Ula’s Embroidery – Xiongnu or Kushans?

Astrid Klein, The Language of Kučean Clothing: A Comparative Study of Wall Paintings and Textiles


Kosuke Goto, The Celestial Lotus: On the Sources of Ornamental Patterns Woven in Silk Samite

Maria Ludovica Rosati, Textiles Patterns on the Move: Looking at the Iconographical Exchanges Along the Silk Route in the Pre-Modern Period as Cultural Processes

Beata Biedrońska-Słota, The Cross-Cultural Role of Textiles Exemplified by Textiles with Arabic Inscriptions and Some Other Motifs

Cemile Tuna, Silk Trade from Bursa to Krakow on the Silk Road


Natalia Shabalina, Colour is a Sign of National Traditional Ornamental Art

Racep Karadag, Characterisation of Dyes, Metal Threads and Silk Yarns from 16–18th-century Ottoman Silk Brocades