Category Archives: China

Archaeology at the border: survey and excavation in Xinjiang

The view from the site where I am excavating.

As far as archaeological fieldwork goes, there are certainly far less accommodating places than where I have fortunately found myself for three consecutive field seasons. My summer fieldwork in Bortala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, a picturesque area of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region less than 30 km from China’s border with Kazakhstan, has offered just the […]

Also posted in Museum, Students in the Field, World | 1 Response

Identifying the Tejaprabha Mural

Sutra close-up

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the mural depicting Tejaprabha Buddha originally came into the museum and was published with the central figure identified as Sakyamuni Buddha.  However a few years later someone noticed that one of the figures on the left was holding a small book with an inscription on it.  It was […]

Also posted in Collection, Museum | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Spy with My Little Eye…

C:Scratchpad 056

One of the most amazing aspects of Buddhist murals condition survey is that it does not get boring. We are constantly discovering more details and quirks. While a regular, sharp-eyed museum visitor can see many of these details, some are impossible to truly appreciate without being fifteen feet tall and two feet from the mural. […]

Also posted in Museum, World | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How We Do What We Do

Buddhist Blog Project Photo

“Can you please explain what you’re doing?” is a question we hear daily. From a visitor’s perspective it doesn’t look like we’re doing much. Basically, we observe and document. A thorough condition report is the first step in any conservation treatment; we need to know what we’re dealing with. These murals are so large that […]

Also posted in Conservation, Museum | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting the Murals to the Museum

C492 with accession numbers

It’s important to understand how an object actually comes into the museum. The Buddhist murals in the Rotunda are comprised of many different sized panels which entered the museum in stages.  The mural depicting Tejaprabha Buddha came into the museum incomplete in 1926.  You can see the panels are actually framed in large wooden borders […]

Also posted in Collection, Museum | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What ARE the Buddhist Murals Made Of?

mural constructionv3

The questions most frequently asked of us while working on the Buddhist murals in the Chinese rotunda involve what the murals are made of. Often people presume they are frescoes. True fresco is done on wet plaster. The pigments used in a fresco are mixed with water and applied to a wet plaster surface. A […]

Also posted in Conservation, Museum | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Two Buddhist Murals from Guangshengsi Monastery

143293_800

  Two of the most fascinating objects in the Asian section are a pair of  murals reported to have come from Guangshengsi Monastery in southern Shanxi Province, China.   What makes them particularly interesting is the nature in which their provenance, date, and subject matter have fluctuated over the decades since they came into the […]

Also posted in Collection, Museum | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Conserving the Buddhist Murals: An Introduction

Pre-program interns Morgan Burgess (left) and Cassia Balogh (right) work recording the current condition of  the mural C 688

Just because artifacts have been in our collections or even on display for a long time doesn’t mean we know all about them. A case in point is the large Buddhist Murals in our Chinese Rotunda, probably the largest artifacts in our collection, at least in area. Although they’ve been on exhibition there since the […]

Also posted in Collection, Conservation | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Onondaga Nation and Swedish Engineers Join Hands on Global Food Production

Oren Lyons at Penn Museum, April 16, 2014

Native American economic initiatives are influencing our world today…here is a terrific example! A new economic initiative in Indian Country that moves beyond the sale of tobacco and casinos is Plantagon, an innovative international partnership with Native American principles at its core. We heard about it from Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation (in […]

Also posted in Americas, Museum, Native American Voices, World | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zheng He: Great Voyages Lecture

programs_thumb_greatvoyages

During three decades at the beginning of the 15th century, China dispatched a series of naval expeditions to Southeast Asia, India, the Persian Gulf and East Africa. These expeditions were on a huge scale, involving hundreds of ships and tens of thousands of men, and were intended to assert the prestige and political dominance of […]

Also posted in Research | Tagged , , | Leave a comment