Tang Gold and Silver

This course examines in depth the formation and transformation of Tang-dynasty (618–907) gold and silversmithing. How exactly did it become one of the trendsetting crafts of the time? Scholars typically invoke an international technology transfer from farther west, but a detailed account of it on the basis of recent archaeological finds has yet to be written. Similarly outdated is the authentication of the “Tang” gold and silver objects in international museum collections, notably the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We will attempt to discuss this issue with curators and a silversmith. In addition to examining the history of the craft, this class employs archaeological finds to reconstruct patterns of consumption and ritual uses. The Tang period coincided with the apogee of early medieval culture in China. Over the past millennium, this era has conjured up images of martial grandeur, vast territorial expansion, and multicultural tolerance; of China’s richest flowering of Buddhism, but also of its severest suppression; of a thriving intellectual culture that gave rise to some of China’s most celebrated poets; and of an aristocratic material culture dominated by cosmopolitan fashion and international trade. 3 credits. Satisfies the non-Western or the pre-1800 requirements.