Imperial Studies in Chinese Archæology

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    Abstract

    OWING to the preoccupation of Chinese antiquarians with literary rather than material evidence, an exceptional interest attaches to an imperial scroll now on exhibition in London, which was painted in A.D. 1729 by command of the Emperor Yung Chen. The scroll is of paper, measuring 49 feet long by 24£ inches wide, and forms an illustrated record in colour of some of the personal possessions of the Emperor, including objects in bronze, jade, ivory, pottery and porcelain. More than two hundred objects are represented. To the student of Chinese archaeology and the development of Chinese art, the interest of this early catalogue lies in the fact that the objects range in date from the early Chou dynasty, about the close of the second millennium B.C., down to porcelains of the early eighteenth century of our era. It is, in fact, a contemporary manuscript catalogue, illustrated by hand, of a remarkable collection of antiquities, which are shown as a continuous band of colour plates. At the time the scroll was painted, the Emperor, who died in 1735, was engaged in preparing the plans for his tomb; and it was from this tomb that the scroll was obtained by a British officer at the time of the Boxer Rebellion. It is now on view at the galleries of Messrs. Spink and Son, 5-7 King Street, St. James's, in aid of the Maternity Ward of the Royal Northern Hospital, London. As no scroll of this type has previously been exhibited in Europe, it has been displayed at full length on the walls of the exhibition hall and is accompanied by a key, in which the various objects have been drawn in outline with notes by experts on their type and ceremonial use. In view of the wide range in character and date of the objects depicted, the value of the scroll thus elucidated for archaeological and aesthetic studies is obviously considerable.

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    Imperial Studies in Chinese Archæology. Nature 143, 1060 (1939) doi:10.1038/1431060a0

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