The Shoso-in Treasury

Yukio Lippit, Eugene Wang, David Roxburgh

This graduate seminar examines the remarkable array of objects preserved in the eighth-century Shōsō-in Imperial Treasury in Nara, Japan. Each session will be centered around in-depth analysis of case studies drawn from different categories of objects (painting, calligraphy, textiles, lacquerware, ceramics, glass, and metalwork among others) created in different cultural regions along the Silk Road, spanning Persia and Japan, from the sixth through eighth century. The goal will be to work outwards from specific objects to larger themes including the interregional transmission of artistic techniques and cultural knowledge along the Silk Road; transposition of modalities of making from one material or process into another; the role of artifacts in diplomatic exchange; vernacular iconographies; pseudomorphology; the role of treasuries in the construction of kingship; the relationship between art and environment in Central and East Asia; the contribution of conservation science to discursive forms of art historical analysis; and the merits and demerits of various digital humanities approaches to the study of the Silk Road and its cultural history.

See also: Course, East Asia