Ming: courts and contacts
- History Faculty, University of Oxford
About the project
The imperial court of China in the early Ming enjoyed an unprecedented range of contacts with other courts of Asia (the Timurids in Iran and Central Asia, the Ashikaga in Japan, Joseon Korea) but also with Bengal, with Sri Lanka, with Africa, and with the heart of the Islamic world in Mecca.
Starting from the imperial and regional courts in other parts of China, this project will research early Ming China's cultural, military and religious activities and foreign interaction through material culture, archaeology and surviving textsto present a new history of the period.
The research will lead to a major exhibition, as well as a book and the publication of conference papers to provide a foundation for future research.
Key areas of investigation for this project will include:
- Patterns of cultural interaction within Asia in the period 1400-1450 and what China appropriated from, and contributed to, other cultures;
- The role of local courts within China in the period 1400-1450 (to what extent were those courts key nodes of transnational or transcultural contact?);
- The role of the military in China 1400-1450 in shaping court contacts with other parts of China and internationally;
- The distinctive role of art and material culture in Ming engagement with the wider world, and the extent to which surviving material culture supports or subverts the narratives derived from textual sources.
T. Brook, The troubled empire: China in the Yuan and Ming dynasties, (Harvard University Press, 2010)
C. Clunas, Screen of Kings: Art Power and Imperial Clan in Ming China (2011, in press)
D. Robinson (ed.), Cultures, Courtiers and Competition: The Ming Court (1268-1644), (2008)
C. Clunas, Empire of Great Brightness: Visual and Material Cultures of Ming China, 1368-1644, (London, 2007)
J. Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics, (British Museum Press, London, 2001)
Marsha Haufler Weidner, Cultural Intersections in Later Chinese Buddhism, (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001).
Images, top: blue and white porcelain
vessels, Ming Dynasty; red lacquered dish, Ming Dynasty;
Gold plaque, Ming Dynasty.