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Welcome to the Penn Museum blog. First launched in January 2009, the Museum blog now has over 800 posts covering a range of topics in the categories of Museum, Collection, Exhibitions, Research, and By Location. Here you’ll hear directly from our staff and Penn students about their work, research, experiences, and discoveries. To explore the Museum's other digital content, visit The Digital Penn Museum.


Two Japanese Lanterns – Revealed

By: Stephen Lang

In my last post I left off establishing that two lanterns recently published in Expedition magazine came from Zōjō-ji temple and had come to the museum in 1919 from a Mrs. Richard Waln Meirs. While I had photos of the lanterns outside the Trescher entrance I wondered if there were other photos of them outside […]

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Two Japanese Lanterns – Rediscovered

By: Stephen Lang

The cover story in the latest issue of Expedition is dedicated to two important Japanese lanterns whose significance has only recently been fully appreciated. Nine years ago I came across a metal column in a storage room that had an inscription on it but no accession number.  Curious I transcribed it and sent it off […]

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The Penn Museum in ③Ⓓ!

By: Stephen Lang

In the past few years, the Penn Museum has been experimenting with different kinds of scanning in order to create 3D models of some objects in our collection. Today we are announcing that many of these 3D models are now view-able via the website Sketchfab. The Sketchfab community includes many other museums, most notably the British […]

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Siamese Manuscripts Found at the Penn Museum – Part 1

By: Stephen Lang

The Asian Section is happy to feature a guest post by Justin McDaniel, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies and Undergraduate Studies and Susanne Kerekes, Ph.D. candidate in Religious Studies at Penn. The Penn Museum has recently had some of their manuscripts digitized and cataloged as part of a larger project to digitize all the […]

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Buddhist Medicine

By: Stephen Lang

The Asian Section is happy to host a guest blog post by C. Pierce Salguero, Assistant Professor of Asian History and Religious Studies at Penn State University’s Abington College. He is the author of Translating Buddhist Medicine in Medieval China, published by Penn Press in 2014. (Photo selection and captions by Stephen Lang) Medicine in Early Buddhism Knowledge […]

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Identifying the Celestial Beings

By: Stephen Lang

In my previous post I explained how we identified the Buddha in our Tejaprabha mural.  But what about the other figures?  If we take a close look at the mural we notice that many of the figures have different attributes. For instance, they may be holding something in their hand or have a mark in […]

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Identifying the Tejaprabha Mural

By: Stephen Lang

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 […]

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Getting the Murals to the Museum

By: Stephen Lang

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 […]

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The Two Buddhist Murals from Guangshengsi Monastery

By: Stephen Lang

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 museum. […]

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Chinese Painting [Object of the Day #116]

By: Stephen Lang

  This painting, named “A Pair of Doves”  by Yi Yuanji, depicts two spotted doves (Streptopelia chinensis ) amid sprays of soft bamboo with a pile of rocks from which grows a small stunted tree. The time of year is most likely autumn or early winter. The signature of Yi Yuanji, 易元吉, is found on the face of […]

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