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Archive for the 'East Asian' Category

The Illustrated Life of Ippen and the Visibility of Karma in Medieval Japan

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The Archives of Asian Art has just published an article by Assistant Professor Chelsea Foxwell!  Titled “The Illustrated Life of Ippen and the Visibility of Karma in Medieval Japan,” Foxwell examines the scenes of the Illustrated Life of Ippen, 1299 by En’i and suggests that rather than “a biographical narrative, it can also be seen as an ink landscape journey in handscroll form.”  This journey is beautifully described throughout the article and is accompanied by over 25 color details. Scroll 7 of the Illustrated Life of Ippen is publicly available on the Digital Scrolling Paintings Project website, which features annotations and a live scrolling feature. Visit both sites linked above to learn more!

Image: En’i, Ippen hijiri-e (Ippen shōnin eden), 1299, scroll 7, scene 3. Nenbutsu dancing at the Kūya hall, Ichitani, near Kyoto. Ink and color on silk (handscroll), h: 38.2 cm. Tokyo National Museum.

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Cambridge Publishes Rare Chinese Manuscripts


Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 10.27.48 AMCambridge University recently announced that they have digitized objects from the Library’s Chinese collections and made them freely available on-line. Digitized items include a collection of oracle bones that display some of the earliest examples for writing anywhere in the world, as well as the manuscript “Manual of Calligraphy and Painting.” This manuscript is incredibly rare and the binding so fragile that many of the prints have never been seen until now. The library has also digitized early printed books and a 14th-century banknote!

The digital images are accompanied by short description of the work and includes metadata in English and Chinese. They can be downloaded under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonComercial license. Reproduction rights can also be requested through the site.

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Ukiyo-e Search provides an incredible resource: the ability to run a reverse image search for Japanese woodblock prints and the ability to see similar prints across multiple collections at once. Over 220,000 prints and metadata have been aggregated from a variety of museums, universities, libraries, auction houses and dealers from around the world. The image and text search engine allows multiple copies of the same print to automatically line up with each other and are made viewable in a gallery for easy comparison. The entire website is also available in both English and Japanese. was created by John Resig, a computer programmer and avid enthusiast of Japanese woodblock prints who recently become a Visiting Researcher at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. This powerful tool is used frequently by UChicago faculty and aided the cataloging of several albums in the Smart Museum’s collection.

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The Mary Griggs Burke Collection Online

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Recently, Chelsea Foxwell, Assistant Professor of Art History and the College, brought a new on-line resource for Japanese art to our attention.

The Mary Griggs Burke Collection, a major new database for Japanese art, along with some Chinese and Korean art, has recently launched. During her lifetime, Mary Griggs Burke had one of the best collections of Japanese art outside of Japan, and her collection has since been donated to several museums.

This website presents the highlights of her collection, with more than 1,000 high-quality photographs and cataloging data displayed online. You can browse the website by collecting area, artist, format, and period or do keyword searches of the collection. Users are able to zoom and pan enlarged images, and you can save a medium quality image by right clicking in the view and selecting “Save Image As.”

This site, along with many others that provide images of art and architecture, can be found on the VRC’s Other Art Resources Online page.

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e-Museum of Japan


Looking for images of works of art in the National Museums of Japan? This e-Museum collection of “National Treasures & Important Cultural Properties” contains hundreds of high quality reproductions, robust metadata, and descriptive content. Users can zoom and and pan through images, browse by categories including painting, calligraphy, sculpture, architecture, textiles, ceramics, and more. The site features a keyword and an advanced search.

In addition, iPhone and Android apps exist for the e-Museum collection.

For more information, explore the e-Museum of Japan!

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Dunhuang Research Redux

The New Yorker recently ran a story about the Dunhuang Library and the efforts to digitize the large cache of materials originally discovered in a cave outside Dunhuang, in the Gobi Desert in western China in 1900. That original discovery revealed a chamber with more than five hundred cubic feet of bundled manuscripts in 17 languages and 24 scripts. The sheer size of the find is not its only extraordinary feature. Other significant discoveries were revealed, including the oldest known example of a printed book—out dating Gutenberg’s press for sure.

In 1994, the British Library created a team with partners in China, France, Germany, Japan, and Korea to digitize the cache of Dunhuang library materials. Called the International Dunhuang Project, its efforts are two-fold: they want to make the documents accessible to researchers around the world in addition to preserving them. The International Dunhuang Project’s database is freely accessible and provides high quality images of manuscripts ad other materials along with robust cataloging information.

Another fantastic research pertaining to Dunhuang is the Mellon International Dunhuang Archive avaialble in ARTstor. With funding from the Mellon Foundation, a team from Northwestern university photographed (in extremely high resolution) more than 40 of the cave grottos at Dunhuang. The photographs they took were stitched together to create 2-and 3-D representations of the caves that can be viewed using QTVR (QuickTime Virtual Reality) technology.

Via the New Yorker.

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New Website for the Digital Scrolling Paintings Project

Nine Dragons, Digital Srolling Paintings Project

The Center for the Art of East Asia has recently announced the launch of a new and improved website for the digital handscroll paintings project:

One of the major types of traditional East Asian painting, the handscroll, or horizontal scroll, is meant to be appreciated by unrolling and viewing it section-by-section as a continuous composition. Unfortunately, the temporal and participatory aspects of viewing handscrolls cannot be readily experienced today, as the original paintings are far too valuable and fragile to be handled frequently. When shown in museums, they are always placed in glass cases and are seldom displayed in their entirety. For students and specialists seeking to view them, it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain access to these important cultural materials. Beyond the rare opportunities to experience them in person, they are primarily known through static, fragmentary images in slides and as photographs in books. Fortunately, the digital medium has offered the potential for much greater exposure to these works of art, simulating the interactive viewing experience for which they were originally designed. The Center for the Art of East Asia (CAEA)at the University of Chicago has teamed with the Visual Resources Center (VRC) and Humanities Research Computing to develop this innovative digital presentation. Initially used as a course website, we are also developing it as a resource for teaching and research at other universities and for museum archiving and exhibition. The digital scrolling paintings website is a multi-functional tool that allows users to move through the scrolls and view elements of the painting in high resolution, with colophons, signatures, and seals of artists and collectors, and also to examine their media, materiality, and techniques of production. This is a means to fuller understanding of a work both in its details and as a composite of its many elements.

Digital technology presents these paintings as continuous scrolling images and offers various kinds of user interfaces such as auto-scrolling, zooming, and comparison. The newly designed website has more paintings accessible for public viewing and enhanced functions for searching, text annotations, and links to related material. We are continuing to add paintings to the public website and partnering with other institutions with a goal to create a more extensive public database of these invaluable works of art. We will include more rare works, Japanese painting, and calligraphy. The project has negotiated agreements to show paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Nelson-Atkins Museum, Palace Museum, Beijing, St. Louis Art Museum, and the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago.

To learn more, visit the Digital Scrolling Paintings Project.

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The Buddhas of Mes Aynak Screening on Thursday 2/7

The Buddhas of Mes Aynak

The Buddhas of Mes Aynak, a new film by Brent Huffman, Assistant Professor, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, will be screened at the University of Chicago on Thursday, February 7 at 4:30 pm in Swift Hall, Room 106.

The Buddhas of Mes Aynak directed by Brent E. Huffman  tells the story of the archaeological site, as well as the dangerous environment the mine has created for archaeologists, Chinese workers, and local Afghans. The film follows several main characters, including Philippe Marquis, a French archaeologist leading emergency conservation efforts; Abdul Qadeer Temore, an Afghan archaeologist at the Afghan National Institute of Archaeology; Liu Wenming, a manager for the China Metallurgical Group Corporation; and Laura Tedesco, an American archaeologist working for the U.S. State Department.

For more information view the film’s Facebook page.

Via UChicagoArts

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New-Terra Cotta Warriors Unearthed in China

New Trove of Terra-Cotta Warriors Unearthed in China: Archeologists at work on Saturday.

From the New York Times’ ArtsBeat:

Chinese archaeologists have unearthed 110 new terra-cotta soldiers of the kind that stunned the world in the 1970s when thousands of such figures were discovered at Xian in central China, part of a tomb army built to guard China’s first emperor in the afterlife.

Agence France-Presse reported that the newly excavated life-size warriors were found near the Qin emperor Ying Zheng’s mausoleum over the course of three years and that archaeologists also uncovered 12 pottery horses and parts of chariots, as well as weapons and tools.

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The Tibetan and Himalayan Library Image Collections

The Tibetan and Himalayan Library (THL) collections of images are indexed by THL’s Place Dictionary and Knowledge Maps for easy exploration. View over 60,000 photos of Tibet and the Himalayas, many with links to maps.

The Tibetan and Himalayan Library is a publisher of websites, information services, and networking facilities relating to the Tibetan plateau and southern Himalayan regions. THL promotes the integration of knowledge and community across the divides of academic disciplines, the historical and the contemporary, the religious and the secular, the global and the local.

Images are linked together by topic, location, and collection for easy browsing and context. For more information, see the library’s main site.


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