University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Archives Photo of the Week: Baseball


By: Eric Schnittke

With baseball’s World Series starting this week, it’s fitting to pay tribute to the Fall Classic with the Photo of the Week. Featured in this image is a baseball team from an indemnity school, most likely Tsinghua College in Peking, China. Tsinghua College (now Tsinghua University) was created as a preparatory school as part of the Boxer […]

Zheng He: Great Voyages Lecture


By: Adam Smith

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 […]

Statue of Maitreya [Object of the Day #106]


By: Stephen Lang

This gilt bronze statuette is of Maitreya, also known as “the compassionate one” and the Buddha of the future. It dates to the Eastern Wei Dynasty (534-550 CE) but is typical of the Northern Wei style which is characterized by its front facing orientation and flowing Chinese robes. The statue rests on a four-sided, four-legged […]

Taizong Horses [Object of the Day #100]

Taizong Horse

By: Xiuqin Zhou

The six stone horse reliefs, known in Chinese as “Zhaoling Liujun” 昭陵六骏 (the six stone horses of Zhao Mausoleum), were commissioned by Emperor Taizong of the Tang dynasty 唐太宗 (r. 627-649) in 636 CE and presumably completed in 649 CE, the time of his death. The realistic depiction and exquisite carving techniques of these stone […]

Ritual Vessel [Object of the Day #68]


By: Gabrielle Niu

The vessel, pictured above, is a four sided fanghu (fāng hú) or square jar. This vessel is composed of copper alloy, bronze, malachite and pigment. The four sides are inlaid with green malachite in a delicate pattern. The pattern is still visible despite much of the malachite being lost. On either side of the vessel are […]

Statuette from Liao Dynasty [Object of the Day #63]

Statuette from the Liao Dynasty

By: Ashley Harper

This gilt bronze statuette is a representation of the compassionate and venerated Guanyin, a popular figure in eastern Buddhism. The figure’s graceful stance and relaxed expression give the statue a sense of peace. In her hands, she holds a lotus bud while over her forehead, at the base of the high crown headdress, is a tiny […]

Zhuang Embroidered Jacket [Object of the Day #20]


By: Stephen Lang

One of the newest acquisitions in the Asian Section is a collection of ethnographic textiles from the Philadelphia Civic Center Museum formerly known as the Commercial Museum. Originally exhibited at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, the approximately 400 pieces entered the museum and expanded the range of the textile collection to include South China, Indochina, […]

Seated Luohan from China [Object of the Day #17]

Seated Luohan

By: Stephen Lang

The Penn Museum’s luohan is one of the most famous and important pieces in the museum’s collection. The fact that it is slightly larger than life size makes it a marvel of technology. Firing something so big  is extremely hard to do without destroying the piece in the process.  The modeled  facial features also imply […]

Mandarin Square [Object of the Day #9]

Mandarin Square

By: Amy Ellsworth

This satin Mandarin Square from the Qing Dynasty, China (19th century) depicts a Qilin, a mythical horse-like animal reserved for the weaves of first rank military officers. The body of Qilin has a couched filling of twisted blue thread to create a scale effect. Symbols include peaches, peonies, and fungus with bamboo. Penn Museum Object […]

Rhinoceros Libation Cups


By: Stephen Lang

The Chinese antiques market continues to grow as evidenced by the recent Antiques Roadshow episode that featured a set of rhinoceros libation cups valued at over a million dollars.   This morning as I flipped through the channels I came across the Today show and saw a plug for a segment with the owner of […]

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