Early Chinese Antiquities and the History of Their Study

Antiquarianism, the pre-modern scholarly practice of collecting and interpreting relics from the distant past, emerged in the eleventh century in Song China. In China, it then remained a mainstay intellectual pastime until the early twentieth century and resulted in the establishment of a classical canon of collectable antiquities. In this seminar we examine how Chinese antiquarian practice came about, how it changed over subsequent dynasties, and how it compares to contemporary archaeological and art historical scholarship. The first half of the course will offer a survey of recent scholarship on the ritual material culture of early China, notably the Shang and Zhou periods. The second half will concentrate on medieval and early modern antiquarian writings and their impact on collecting and design practices. 3 credits. Satisfies the non-Western or Pre-1800 requirement.