China and the Wider World: Art and Material Cultures of the Qin and Han Dynasties
The Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C.-A.D. 220) were an age of transformation in China’s history, when, for the first time, peoples of diverse background were brought together under a centralized administration that fostered a new “Chinese” identity. Taken together, the Qin and Han empires represent the “classical” era of Chinese civilization, coinciding in time and importance, with Greco-Roman civilization in the West. The short-lived Qin and centuries-long Han established the political and intellectual institutions that became the foundation for all later Chinese dynasties while fundamentally reshaping China’s art and culture, the impact of which has continued to reverberate throughout the succeeding millennia.
By examining the art and material culture recovered through archaeology in the last fifty years, this presentation explores the seminal changes that took place in the four and half centuries, with an emphasis on the contact between China and other parts of the world, which resulted from the increased trade and exchange over the transcontinental Silk Road and through maritime routes across the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
*Jason Sun is the Brooke Russell Astor Curator of Chinese Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. His most recent exhibition, “Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties, 221 BCE-220 CE,” will run at The Met from April 3-July 16, 2017.
*This event is sponsored by the Princeton University Art Museum, the P.Y. and Kinmay Tang Center for East Asian Art, and the East Asian Studies Program.