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Category: History & Historiography, China

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The Institute's collection of Asian art represents seventeen Asian cultures spanning over 5,000 years. The Department of Asian Arts has benefited greatly from generous gifts from knowledgeable collectors. Augustus L. Searle, Alfred F. Pillsbury, Richard P. Gale, Louis W. Hill, Jr., and Ruth and Bruce Dayton have donated specialized collections of international reputation, including ancient Chinese bronzes, ancient and post-Sung jade, Chinese monochrome ceramics, Ukiyo-e paintings, Japanese prints, and classical Chinese furniture. In addition, highly regarded specialized collections of Ch'ing dynasty silk textiles, Miao textiles, and surimono prints have been built over the years. The curatorial department's goal is to provide the public with a broad overview of Asian art.

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The Fine Arts Library currently houses 2,602 individual East Asian rubbings, the majority of which are from China. The rubbings were made from ancient stone stelae, tomb tablets, Buddhist and Daoist scriptures on stelae and rocks, as well as inscriptions and designs copied from bronze vessels, jade objects, ceramics, tomb bricks, and roof tiles, objects dating from the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BCE) to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE).

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About the Collection The C. V. Starr East Asian Library's run of Ling long women's magazine is one of the most complete outside China, acquired, we believe, in the late 1930s or early 1940s as part of a concerted effort to enlarge Columbia University's Chinese-language holdings. The collection expanded dramatically in the years between 1938 and 1941 when the holdings more than doubled, thanks to a special grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

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Chinese Paper Gods Collection Essays The images in this collection were assembled by Anne S. Goodrich (1895–2005) in 1931, when as a Christian missionary in Peking she became interested in local folk religious practices. She studied the paper gods in this collection for much of her life. After publishing her research conclusions in 1991, she donated these prints to the C. V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University. The images are divided initially by usage: Those which were purchased to be burned immediately and serve as emissaries to heaven; and those which were purchased to be displayed for a year while offering protection to the family in a variety of ways, before being burned. The images are further divided by display locations and by the deities they represent.

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