A Timeless Collection
Evening Presentation by Dr. Chen Shen, Vice President, Senior Curator (Bishop White Chair of East Asian Archaeology) at the Royal Ontario Museum
Drinks reception at 6:30 pm
Presentation at 7:00 pm
Close at 8:00 pm
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) houses a substantial collection of Chinese jades from throughout the ages, including a renowned assemblage from Wu Dacheng, acquired in 1928/29 by Bishop William White. In 2012, ROM received a gift of a Neolithic Liangzhu period jade bi disc that had once been in Wu’s collection but that had gone missing for more than a century before being reunited with the others in the collection at the ROM. Chen Shen will begin with a brief introduction to the ROM’s jade collection and the early acquisition of Wu’s jades. He will then trace the bi’s history, beginning in the Tongzhi period, when it was in the collection of a wealthy Jiangnan family surnamed Gu. From there it passed to Wu, then to the president of the new Republic of China Yuan Shikai, before travelling to the US and then Canada, eventually entering the ROM collection. The bi’s journey through the hands of these different collectors occurred during a turbulent time of social–cultural transformations, and understanding the history of the collection allows us to appreciate jades as more than just objects in a museum but rather as embodiments of the human spirit.
Chen Shen is the Vice President and Senior Curator (Bishop White Chair of East Asian Archaeology) at the Royal Ontario Museum.