Colloquium: Chinese Glass and Faience in the 1st Millennium BC – From the Eastern Mediterranean to the Steppe and Beyond

  • Date:       Thursday 8 February 2018
  • Time:      16:00 - 17:00
  • Venue:    The Cyprus Institute – Guy Ourisson Building, Seminar Room, 1st Floor, Athalassa Campus
  • Speaker: Dr Yi-Xian Lin, Lecturer of Archaeological Materials and Technology, College of Applied Arts and Science of Beijing Union University

* The colloquium will be in English, the event is open to the public, light refreshments will be served after the talk.
 

Abstract 

The technical virtuosity and aesthetic appeal of early glass and composite eye-beads have fascinated generations of scholars and collectors. Most of the research literature on Chinese pre-Han vitreous materials, however, is based on out-of-context objects and problematic.
How did the glass and faience production develop in China? With the benefit of access to fresh excavation materials and analytical data, the speaker has conducted a comprehensive study of vitreous materials from Northwestern China, drawing upon recent archaeological discoveries in Xinjiang, Qinghai, Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Ningxia provinces, of the first millennium BC. She finds that apart from importing exotic products from the West, ancient populations in northwestern China have developed their own technological traditions that evolve over time to serve China’s rutial practice.

Our knowledge of the people in the borderlands of Chinese civilizations has been limited. The recent discovery of a Late Warring States cemetery at Majiayuan in Gansu Province provides a rare opportunity to observe the cultural preferences and creativity of local elites. Apart from an astonishing wealth of bronze, gold, and iron artefacts, this cemetery produced a sizable amount of glass and faience, mostly in small beads and inlays. Her analysis reveals that the local population deliberately manipulated the technical and product diversity, as a way of maintaining cultural identity in the wake of the dominant Qin polity in the region.

About the Speaker
Dr. Yi-Xian LIN received the PhD from University of Science & Technology Beijing (2009) with a dissertation on ancient glass from Xinjiang. Since then she has been working on a variety of ancient vitreous materials widely found in Northwestern China.
She was a Newton Fellow at the UCL Institute of Archaeology (2010-2012) and now is lecturer of Archaeological Materials and Technology in the College of Applied Arts and Science of Beijing Union University.