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National Palace Museum

Treasures from Across the Kunlun Mountains: Islamic Jades in the National Palace Museum Collection

  • Chief Editor: Teng Shu-ping
  • Editor: Written by: Teng Shu-ping, Liu Yu-chu, and Chen Tung-ho
  • ISBN: 978-957-562-745-4
  • Price: NT$1100
  • Binding: hardcover
  • Languages: Chinese and English
Islamic culture has had a strong influence on Asian culture. When Islamic jades were introduced to the Qing court, Qianlong Emperor mistakenly believed that these objects, carved with flower and leaf decorations, all came from a South Asian region called "Hindustan." All jades with flower and leaf decorations offered as a tribute from Xinjiang to the Qing court were subsequently given the name "Hindustan jades." Teng Shu-ping, an ex-research fellow of the National Palace Museum (NPM), conducted subsequent research and discovered that a portion of the jade collection of the NPM comprised jades produced from Central Asia (i.e., simple jades), West Asia, and Eastern Europe (i.e., jades with flower and leaf patterns manufactured by the Ottoman Empire). In consideration of the geographical location from which these artifacts were made, an NPM exhibition in 2007 as well as one of the opening exhibitions of the NPM Southern Branch named these jades "Islamic jades."

Teng Shu-ping, who is also a renowned jade researcher, fully employed the experience that she has accumulated from comprehensive and in-depth field studies over a period of more than three decades to carefully explain the subtleties of Islamic jades to the audience. This catalogue showcases the NPM's Islamic jade collection and presents the jade carvings and decorations in the form of stone rubbings to allow readers to make further comparisons. The ingenuity of the treasured artifacts transmitted to the Qing court is thus fully revealed.

The area where Islam is the predominant religion is quite vast and stretches from Central, South, and West Asia to Eastern Europe. However, due to the distribution of the raw jades and the influence from Chinese culture, it was only from the 14th century to the early 19th century that various levels of jade art emerged there. What art historians today commonly refer to as "Islamic jades" were produced by four powerful empires existing in this region during this period. These four political empires were: (1) the Timurid Empire (1370–1506), in Central and West Asia; (2) the Ottoman Empire (1299–1922), in West Asia and East Europe; (3) the Safavid dynasty (1501–1736), in West Asia; and (4) the Mughal Empire (1526–1857), in South Asia. The jades differ in craftsmanship and are breathtakingly thin, light, and transparent.

This catalogue was written and edited by Teng Shu-ping and contains articles written by Liu Yu-chu (NPM Southern Branch research assistant), Chen Dong (museum personnel from the Department of Registration and Conservation who is responsible for performing scientific testing), and other associate research fellows. The artistic styles and craftsmanship of the Islamic jades were examined from various perspectives to uncover the magnificence of Eastern and Western artifacts, making the catalogue a must read for all readers.
Treasures from Across the Kunlun Mountains: Islamic Jades in the National Palace Museum Collection
Treasures from Across the Kunlun Mountains: Islamic Jades in the National Palace Museum Collection