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Hsueh-man Shen: Standardization and the Rise of Ningbo in the Sino-Japanese Trade of Art, ca. 1050-1300

Date and Time: 
Tuesday, May 4, 2021. 12:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Zoom
Workshop: 
Standardization in Ancient Economies 2020
Meeting Description: 

In 999 CE a maritime trade bureau responsible for seaborne trade control was established in Ningbo. A century later Ningbo developed into a major center of artistic production, focusing on export to Japan. Numerous paintings, stone sculptures, and fine ceramics made in or around Ningbo were shipped to Japan for use at Buddhist temples where wealth concentrated. Many of the objects were only found in Japan and not within China. Focusing on select groups of artworks, this case study examines the ways in which the port city environment of Ningbo facilitated artistic production and the circulation of artifacts across territorial boundaries. Dr. Shen will study the Chinese objects recovered from shipwrecks, kilns, temples, as well as burials and settlement sites. She will explore how standardization manifested at different levels of artistic production and circulation, and how it contributed to Ningbo’s rapid rise to dominance in the trade of artisanal crafts across the East China Sea.

Hsueh-man Shen’s research on the art of medieval China is mostly concerned with materiality and object mobility. She is the author of a recent book entitled Authentic Replicas: Buddhist Art in Medieval China (2019), and editor of Gilded Splendor: Treasures of China’s Liao Empire (2006, German version in 2007). In 2016 she co-curated the special exhibition, Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road, for the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Interested in positioning China on the atlas of world art, she is currently working on a book manuscript, tentatively titled Art, Space, and Mobility, to explore how maritime connectivity reconfigured the cultural boundaries of East Asia during the long twelfth century.

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