Mongolian emperors and Chinese art history


This video says about itself:

Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, reading with text

9 February 2013

Kubla Khan (pron.: /ˌkʊblə ˈkɑːn/) is a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, completed in 1797 and published in 1816. According to Coleridge‘s Preface to Kubla Khan, the poem was composed one night after he experienced an opium influenced dream after reading a work describing Xanadu, the summer palace of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China Kublai Khan. Upon waking, he set about writing lines of poetry that came to him from the dream until he was interrupted by a person from Porlock. The poem could not be completed according to its original 200–300 line plan as the interruption caused him to forget the lines. He left it unpublished and kept it for private readings for his friends until 1816 when, on the prompting by George Gordon Byron, it was published.

Some of Coleridge’s contemporaries denounced the poem and questioned his story about its origin. It was not until years later that critics began to openly admire the poem. Most modern critics now view Kubla Khan as one of Coleridge’s three great poems, with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel. The poem is considered one of the most famous examples of Romanticism in English poetry. A copy of the manuscript is a permanent exhibit at the British Museum in London.

Apart from Coleridge’s poetic imagination, and descriptions by Marco Polo, there is more to say about Khubilai Khan and other Mongolian rulers of medieval China.

From the International Institute for Asian Studies in the Netherlands:

Khubilai Khan’s legacy: Inner Asian Influence on Chinese art

Date & time

19 February 2015, 14.30 – 16.30 hrs

Venue

Auditorium, Rijksmuseum
Museumstraat 1, Amsterdam

The programme

14.30 – 15.00 Reception with coffee & tea in the foyer at the Auditorium
15.00 – 15.10 Welcome & Introduction
15.10 – 16.00 Lecture by Professor Morris Rossabi
16.00 – 16.30 Q&A

The lecture

This slide-illustrated presentation challenges the conventional wisdom that portrays the thirteenth-century Mongolians as merely destroyers, killers, rapists, and plunderers. Although the lecture does not minimize the massacres and destruction wrought by the Mongolians, it also reveals their contributions to the arts and culture in China. Khubilai Khan, in particular, supported several of the most prominent Chinese painters, recruited Muslim weavers to add new motifs in Chinese textiles, appointed Mongolians to supervise the spectacular porcelain industry, and commissioned Tibetan and Nepalese painters and artisans to produce portraits of the Imperial family and to construct remarkable buildings in Dadu (or Beijing). Marco Polo, whose book introduced Khubilai to the West, was himself dazzled by the extraordinary art and culture he encountered in Mongol-ruled China.

To be sure, the Mongolians were not the artists and craftsmen, but they acted as sponsors, patrons, and consumers of the arts, thereby performing an invaluable service. Women, especially Khubilai’s wife and great granddaughter, were avid supporters of Chinese art.

The speaker

Morris Rossabi is a historian of China and Inner Asia who conducted his initial research on traditional Chinese foreign relations and on the peoples along China’s borders. He wrote a biography of Khubilai Khan, which has been translated in many languages, including Korean and Russian, and helped to organize exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. He was commissioned to write three chapters for the Cambridge History of China. After serving as a Consultant for the Soros Foundation, he wrote the book Modern Mongolia. The author of numerous articles and speeches, he travels repeatedly to Central Asia and Mongolia, where he teaches courses on Mongolian and East Asian history.

Registration

Entrance and registration are free of charge. Please register via: h.m.van.der.minne@iias.nl

Contact

For enquiries about the lecture, please contact Ms Heleen van der Minne: h.m.van.der.minne@iias.nl.

Rare medieval bookmark discovery in Leiden, the Netherlands


This video is called Rare medieval bookmark.

About this video, from Leiden university in the Netherlands:

Rare medieval bookmark found in Leiden University Library

A rare medieval bookmark emerged in Leiden University Library. Book historian Erik Kwakkel found the disk in an archive of manuscript descriptions called the Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta. It was likely put their [sic; there] in the early twentieth century by Willem de Vreese, who made the descriptions. The presence of the bookmark was not known to the library. Only thirty-five bookmarks of this type have been identified worldwide.

The bookmark concerns a disk with the numbers 1-4 written on it. Originally, it would have been fitted in a sleeve, which could be pulled up and down along a cord. The reader would turn the disk to indicate in what text column certain information was found, after which he pulled the sleeve to the relevant line. Page, column and line were thus marked. The specimen in Leiden is incomplete, as only the disk itself survived. However, this manuscript in Harvard’s Houghton Library illustrates how the bookmark works.

Although it is hard to determine the precise date of the bookmark, it was likely made in the thirteenth or fourteenth century. It appears to have been popular in learned books and it reflects how scholars from the thirteenth century began to use their books. No longer were the objects merely used to read from cover to cover, but an interest emerged to read particular sections. To facilitate such use, various aids became widely used, including the index, running titles, and detailed chapter titles. The rotating bookmark can be understood as yet another means to quickly and efficiently find your way to a particular passage. The thumbprints on the Leiden specimen suggests it was frequently used.

The bookmark has been moved to the manuscript collection and has been given the shelfmark BPL 3327. The find was first reported on Erik Kwakkel’s blog medievalbooks.nl and in De Volkskrant of 2 October, 2014.

Last Modified: 02-10-2014.

Medieval ship discovery


This video, recorded in Kampen town in the Netherlands, is about a reconstructed medieval cog ship.

About cog ships, from Wikipedia:

A cog (or cog-built vessels) is a type of ship that first appeared in the 10th century, and was widely used from around the 12th century on. Cogs were generally built of oak, which was an abundant timber in the Baltic region of Prussia. This vessel was fitted with a single mast and a square-rigged single sail. These vessels were mostly associated with seagoing trade in medieval Europe, especially the Hanseatic League, particularly in the Baltic Sea region.

In the eastern Netherlands, Kampen town was a Hanseatic League member.

Recently, Dutch archeologists announced the discovery of the wreck of a medieval cog in the IJssel river near Kampen.

Dutch NOS TV writes about it today:

At the end of the month it will be decided whether the wreck will be raised and whether it should go to a museum.

Replica

In the Netherlands, during the draining of the Flevo polders, already several wrecks of cogs have been found. One was restored with medieval wood. It sails since 1998 under the name Hanseatic Kampen Cog.

That is the ship in the video.

The wreck of a five-masted schooner built in 1903 was found in a marine sanctuary off Los Angeles: here.

Spain’s Jewish heritage, ages after expulsion


This video is called International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Toledo Sephardic Museum remembers Nazi victims.

From the New York Times:

TOLEDO, Spain: Spain has sometimes been slow to recognize its own treasures.

Miguel de Cervantes was slipping into obscurity after his death until he was rescued by foreign literary experts.

El Greco‘s paintings were pulled from oblivion by the French.

The Muslim palace of Alhambra had fallen into neglect before the American author Washington Irving and others wrote about it in the 1800s.

Now, more than 500 years after expelling its Jews and moving to hide if not eradicate all traces of their existence, Spain has begun rediscovering the Jewish culture that thrived here for centuries and that scholars say functioned as a second Jerusalem during the Middle Ages.

“We’ve gone from a period of pillaging the Jews and then suppressing and ignoring their patrimony to a period of rising curiosity and fascination,” said Ana María López, the director of the Sephardic Museum in Toledo, a hub of Jewish life before the Jews were expelled or forced to convert to Christianity in 1492 during the Inquisition.

Sephardic Jews and Muslims in Spain: here.

The Chuetas, a community of forced converts from a collection of islands off the coast of Spain, are embracing their Jewish roots. Many are looking to return to the fold but are finding obstacles along the way: here.

ScienceDaily (Oct. 18, 2011) — A well-known collection of historical texts, the Cairo Genizah is one of the most valuable sources of primary documents for medieval historians and religious scholars. The 350,000 fragments found in the Genizah include not only religious texts, but also social and commercial documents, dating from the 9th to 19th century. But the collection is scattered among 70 institutions worldwide, including libraries in Cambridge, Jerusalem, and New York City, and scholars are hampered by both the wide dispersal of the collection as well as their fragmentary condition: here.

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