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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

Ming: courts and contacts

AD 1400-1450

Project leaders

Department of Asia 

Partners

  • History Faculty, University of Oxford

Supported by

Arts and Humanities Research Council
Porcelain vessels, Ming dynasty, AD 1403-1424
  • 1

    China's international role is important to us all and to understand that role we need to investigate China's historical relationships with Africa, the Middle East, south, southeast and east Asia. One of the most influential periods of China's cultural interaction with the wider world was the early fifteenth century, the period of the Ming Dynasty. As the focus of this project, these contacts and interactions will be studied from the perspective of court life in China at this time.

  • 2

    China's international role is important to us all and to understand that role we need to investigate China's historical relationships with Africa, the Middle East, south, southeast and east Asia. One of the most influential periods of China's cultural interaction with the wider world was the early fifteenth century, the period of the Ming Dynasty. As the focus of this project, these contacts and interactions will be studied from the perspective of court life in China at this time.

  • 3

    China's international role is important to us all and to understand that role we need to investigate China's historical relationships with Africa, the Middle East, south, southeast and east Asia. One of the most influential periods of China's cultural interaction with the wider world was the early fifteenth century, the period of the Ming Dynasty. As the focus of this project, these contacts and interactions will be studied from the perspective of court life in China at this time.

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.

Research questions

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.

Further reading

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.