Jade Head (second century BCE), China. Image at the courtesy of the Museum of the Tomb of the King Nanyue, Guangzhou, China.
Ancient Chinese Objects
in a Global Context
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Ancient China, often called the Middle Kingdom, has long been considered a polity that was located in the Far East and isolated from the rest of the world. Archaeological discoveries present, however, a very different picture.
In this talk, Dr. Lillian Lan-ying Tseng will introduce a group of precious objects excavated from the tomb of King Nanyue in the second century BCE when China rapidly expanded her western territory and established the so-called Silk Road. From the abundant jade objects found in the tomb, Tseng will elaborate a Chinese pursuit of eternity that was comparable to the Egyptian mummification. Based on the buried silverware, she will articulate how ancient Chinese aristocrats consumed the luxurious goods that could have been imported from as far as ancient Iran. In conjunction with the exhibition Unearthed at the Clark, this lecture will position ancient Chinese objects more broadly in a global context.
Tseng is Associate Professor of East Asian Art and Archaeology, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University. The recipient of many grants, including a Getty Fellowship, she is the author of Picturing Heaven in Early China (Harvard University Press, 2011).