Monday, 11 December 2017

College de France and the Shahnameh: the Book of Kings

At College de France you will find the latest research in natural and social sciences with lectures, seminars, symposia open to the general public and audio, video and online publications.

One of the topics is History and Literature and there you'll find Frantz Grenet who for many years gives very interesting lectures on many subjects regarding the history and culture of pre-islamic Central Asia.

2016/2017 is about "Le Livre des Rois de Ferdowsi et les épopées sistaniennes : strates textuelles, strates iconographiques" (Ferdowsi's “Shahnameh”: The book of kings).

I've chosen out of the many video's which are available two who are in English:

Sistani Epics in the Shāhnāma Manuscript Tradition: on the Demon Shabrang and the Hero Barzu

Saturday, 9 December 2017

More news and photo's: Map of the Silk Road from the Ming period donated to Palace Museum

From: 4 december 2017

On November 30, the National Palace Museum donated a very precious historical value of cultural relics - "Silk Road landscape map." It is said that the artifacts had been lost to Japan in the 1930s. This time, Xu Rongmao, chairman of the board of Shimao Group, invested 130 million yuan to buy it from private collectors and donated it to the National Palace Museum at no charge.

"Silk Road Landscape Map"
"Silk Road Landscape Map" painted on top of the silk, width 0.59 meters, a total length of 30.12 meters, is a painting in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, should be used within the House of green mountains hand scroll. It depicts the vast area of the east from Jiayuguan west to Tianfang (now Mecca, Saudi Arabia). A total of 211 volumes of geo-coordinates were drawn, marking many important cities on the Silk Road such as Dunhuang in China and Isfahan in Iran. All city names are marked in Chinese and the name of the city west of Jiayuguan is translated from the Chinese characters of many exotic languages such as Turkic, Mongolian, Persian, Arabian and Armenian languages.
"Silk Road Landscape Map" part

President Shan said that not long ago, U.S. President Trump visiting China visited the National Palace Museum. During the visit, "Silk Road Landscape Map" left a deep impression on President Trump. "President Trump admired both the opening of the first large-scale business exchange between the East and the West on the Silk Road and the moving of East-West cultural, artistic and ideological exchanges through the Silk Road to the entire history of the world Meaning and far-reaching impact. "

I recall that a few years ago this piece of "Silk Road Landscape Map" had been introduced and exhibited by Poly Culture in the "Belt and Road Initiative."

According to professor Lin Meicun from Peking University Institute of Archeology and Museology, doctoral tutor and research fellow of Silk Road, the original picture of this "Silk Road Landscape Map" is about 40 meters long, that is, the starting and ending points should be Jiayuguan and "Lushen" (Lin That is, Istanbul). In the picture, about 10 meters long, the passage from "Tian Fang" to "Lu Fan" was later arbitrarily eliminated.

Some scholars through the clues provided by Professor Lin Meicun, after reading the "Western land character map", you can draw the following conclusions: There are indeed many missing notes on the map, the part from the side to the Lutheran was cut off. The furthest point of the map is a place called "Lushan". In the book "Foreign Ministers of Staff" written by A-lish in the Ming Dynasty, the Western missionary in Ming Dynasty recorded a "Lumi" kingdom in Asia Minor, Asia.
"Silk Road Landscape Map" part
During the Ming Dynasty, Ricci, an Italian, came to China and in 1584 (twelve thousand years of Wanli), he painted the "Vision of All Nations." In 1601 (Wanli twenty-nine years), Matteo Ricci arrived in Beijing division dedication to this map, later known as "Kun Yu universal map." The world in this illustration is an oval with some astronomical and geographic maps attached: a nine-day sky map in the upper right corner, a heavenly world map in the lower right corner, a hemisphere map of the equatorial northern hemisphere and a solar eclipse map in the upper left corner and an equator in the lower left corner South hemisphere map and gas map; another amount of days scale attached to the bottom left of the main map. Matteo Ricci's mapping method, which was later accepted by the Ming government, was extensively printed and reproduced, transforming the Western method of mapping into the dominant method of later generations.
"Silk Road Landscape Map" part
This "Silk Road Landscape Map" has not yet drawn the basic shape of the oval globe, there is no proportion of the calculation of ruler, is based on Chinese traditional hand-drawn form. Therefore, the lower limit of the "Silk Road Landscape Map" should be before the Wanli Dynasty.

On the back of the map, there is the title "Mongolia Landscape Map" titled "Shangyountang" at the famous bookstore of Liulichang at the end of the Qing Dynasty and the early Republic of China. Some scholars believe that the "Shang You Tong" title is based on past habits, this title is really not in line with the prevailing circumstances. One of the reasons why the Kansai seven-guard jurisdiction over the vast territory after the Ming Dynasty has reached the farthest reaches of Afghanistan, Kazak, Uzbekistan and other regions; During the period from Yongle to Wanli, frequent trade in the Western Regions was a historical one. The arrival of the Portuguese Benedict XVI explained the prosperity and smoothness of the Silk Road. Therefore, this map can be clearly named "Silk Road Landscape Map" than "Mongolia landscape map" is more accurate.

Some people think that "Silk Road Landscape Map" is a work by Qiu Ying Ming Dynasty painter: and Qiu Ying painting "Fen Fen map" painted Linfen watchtower exactly the same, it seems that the same powder used.
Chou Ying paintings "Fen map"

Mr. Zhu Shaoliang, a famous ancient calligraphy and painting collector and ancient scholar of calligraphy and painting appraisal, holds that the painter of Qiu Ying, from Zhou Chen and the court of Southern Song Dynasty, uses a square pen to express himself that his square pen is a side striker rather than a slant front, Use it occasionally. With the pen gentle corners, continuous and non-stop, Zhou Chen, Wang Qiao pause at the sharp corners, Qiuying's continuous and fluid ink. Chou Ying "Fen map" painted Linfen watchtower, Zhong Yan Xie Xiantao three dripping pavilion-style buildings, tail to the two Song before the icon, "ticket gate" style gates.

The "Silk Road Map" of Jiayuguan Shing Mun, watchtower is a single Yanke Xieshan two drops of water pavilion-style buildings, Qiongwei outgoing typical Ming and Qing architectural features. "Coupons door" style gates obvious. Another example is the horse Harena Tower, Zhong Yan Xieshan cross spire three dripping pavilion-style architecture, Qiongwei Inward Ming and Qing architectural features.

Therefore, it is obvious that the painting style of the "Silk Road Landscape Map" and the composition style of the building are all different from those of Qiu Ying.

Zhu Shaoliang through the "Silk Road Landscape Map" study of ink and found that with the mid Ming Dynasty "Wu sent landscapes" is very close to the fine fresh and beautiful green landscape and the ability of world painting. Stacked layers rather than depth-depth relationship between the layout, the top of the platform, dense moss dot, angular clear alum first distinctive painting. All this is very much in line with the "Wu landscape" features, closer to Wen Zhengming's student Xie Shichen's painting style. The Tang Yin, Qiuying both from the Southern Song dynasty academy painting start, and far chase the Northern Song Dynasty masters, pay attention to the theme, structure, pay attention to real scenery.

Xie Shichen in the landscape, the ability to draw the boundaries of the painting is very strong, such as "Kuanglu waterfall map", "Xishan 霁 snow map", alum head, ideas, composition and "Silk Road landscape map" consistent. Boundary drawing features, in addition to the tail, other architectural features are similar.

Judging from this, "Silk Road Landscape Map" creation time Ming Jiajing three years later, by "Wu sent landscapes" Xie Shichen style drawing method drawn, when the works of Jiajing period.

Ji Tao Introduction:

Master of Science, English scholar, registered auctioneer. At present, he is currently a member of Legal Consultation and Theoretical Research Committee of China Auction Industry Association, a member of China Auction Standardization Technical Committee, leader of standardized drafting group of auction terminology, researcher of auction research center of Central University of Finance and Economics, managing director of Tianwen International Auction Co., Adjunct Professor. Has participated in the preparation of "Auctioneer Talk Set" 1, 2 sets, "China Collection 20 years", "China Collection Yearbook", "Chinese auction twenty years", the national auctioneer qualification examination materials "Auction General Theory", "Auction The Basics of Economics "," The Basics of Auctions "and" The Course of Auction Practice ". He is the author of" The Exploration of Auction Theory and Practice "," The Selection of Auction Plan Books ", and his book" Theories and Techniques of Auctioneers " Beijing auction history "," Auctioneer presided over the tutorial "and other books. Hosted hundreds of works of art, land, real estate and other auctions.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Textile Archaeology on the Silk Road: Comparison of Textiles Found in Northwest China and Israel

View on YouTube This lecture by Zhao Feng of the China National Silk Museum, held on May 11, 2017 at the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem gives a brief introduction to the textile archaeology in the northwest of China, especially the Xinjiang area around the Taklamakan Desert. 
The sites where the textiles were found include the Small River site from the 20th century BC, to the Yingpan cemetery from the 4-5th century AD. 
After this introduction, some comparisons between the textiles found in Israel and China are compared, including wool tapestry and compound tabby fabrics from the Roman period, cotton and silk ikat from early Islamic period, and lampas from the Mongol period. Through these comparisons Dr. Zhao examines the relationship between the two sides of the Silk Road.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Map of the Silk Road from the Ming period donated to Palace Museum

South China Morning Post 30 November 2017
When Hong Kong tycoon Hui Wing-mau instructed his company to buy a Ming dynasty Silk Road map for 133 million yuan, he knew the value of the item was beyond just the price tag.
His company, Shimao Group, recently bought the Landscape Map of the Silk Road from a private collector and donated it to the Palace Museum in Beijing, adding one more relic to the world-renowned museum that is home to 1.8 million treasures.
The low profile tycoon, once ranked by Forbes as China’s second richest person, bought the map because it carries significant historical value of China’s understanding of the Silk Road in the Ming dynasty. He felt he needed to buy it, especially after China’s President Xi Jinping has launched the go-global trade strategy, the “Belt and Road Initiative”.
The map’s value ended up probably being beyond what even Hui had expected. When US President Donald Trump visited Beijing in November, President Xi took him on a visit to the museum’s “relic museum” and the map was one of the items the two leaders saw.

“The value of the map cannot be measured by money,” Hui said at a ceremony on Thursday as the museum officially marked the transfer. “Today, (the map) is finally home.”
The map, 30.13m long and 0.59m wide, was produced during the 16th century during the Ming dynasty. It includes 10 countries and regions, including China, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and North Africa – from the Jiayuguang city of Gansu province to Mecca.
In the 1930s, the map landed in the hands of the Yurinkan Museum in Kyodo, Japan. In 2002, the map was obtained by a private collector on the mainland, until Hui’s company bought it recently.

The museum’s director, Shan Jixiang, said at the ceremony that the map contains significant historical value because it shows China’s understanding of the Silk Road during the Ming dynasty. Now that China is pressing ahead with its global trade strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative, Shan said, the map has a particularly important “political meaning”.
After graduating from high school during the Cultural Revolution, Hui was sent to the countryside to work as a barefoot doctor.

He made his way to Hong Kong in the late 1970s and worked in a textile factory. He returned to Fujian in the mid-eighties and started to invest in textile factories, telling friends he had made money by dabbling in the Hong Kong stock market.
In 2006, Forbes magazine ranked Hui as the second richest person in China with a net worth of US$2.1 billion at the time. According to Forbes, his net worth has now grown to US$7.2 billion, but his ranking slipped to the 22nd place this year.
Hui is no stranger to the Palace Museum. Last year, his company donated 80 million yuan to repair the museum’s Hall of Mental Cultivation, which was built in 1537.
“Culture is a nation’s soul. Without prosperity in culture, there will be no rejuvenation for the Chinese nation,” Hui said, referring to Xi’s vision for the country.
He added he may suggest that director Shan showcase the map in Hong Kong in the future.
Among the guests at the ceremony on Thursday were Tung Chee-hwa, vice-chairman of the nation’s top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and director Zhang Xiaoming of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

New book by Bettine Birge: Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan

Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan: Cases from the Yuan Dianzhang 

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.