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Hsueh-man Shen

Ehrenkranz Associate Professor in World Art

National Taiwan University (B.A. and M.A.); University of Oxford (D.Phil.)

My area of specialization is the art and archaeology of medieval China, with a focus on the period from the eighth to the twelfth centuries. I am particularly interested in exploring the relationship between materiality and spirituality, interplay between word and image, and the intersection between mortuary and religious practices. As a result, my general research approach is to cross the boundaries of genre studies and examine objects in their original contexts of production and use.

My published work ranges from decorated tombs, reliquaries, to Buddhist cave-temples, and shipwrecks. I have also written on the role of translation in establishing the intellectual genealogy of Chinese art, and the meaning of originality and authenticity in the Buddhist art of China. Among my most recent publications is a book about how Chinese Buddhist practitioners exploited pre-existing systems of production to meet the need for multiple sacred objects, to achieve authenticity and thereby to integrate the foreign religion of Buddhism into Chinese society (Authentic Replicas: Buddhist Art in Medieval China). Ongoing projects include a book manuscript, tentatively titled Art, Space, and Mobility, which focuses on how maritime connectivity reconfigured the cultural boundaries of East Asia during the long twelfth century; and another book project to explore how text and image inform each other during the process of translation, and the ways in which modern translations of primary and secondary texts mediate scholarly discourses about Chinese art history.

Prior to joining the faculty of IFA-NYU, I held several teaching and curatorial positions in the U.S., the U.K., and Taiwan. My curatorial experiences allow me to fully appreciate the importance of combining fieldwork in the museum and lecture/seminar in the classroom. They also guide my attention to an object-oriented approach to the history of art in China. As a faculty member of the Institute, I remain active as curatorial collaborator and continue organizing exhibitions related to or derived from my own research. An example is the recent exhibition at the Getty Center, Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road (May-September, 2016), for which I served as consultant and co-organizer.

During the academic year 2018-2019 I am EURIAS Senior Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Amsterdam, where I will work until June 2019.

Sample Courses

  • Size Matters: Meanings of Scale in the Arts of China
  • Beautiful Mistakes: Translation Issues in Language and Art
  • Reproduction and Replication in the Art of Premodern China
  • The Library Cave at Dunhuang: Discovery, Contents, and Research
  • Between Materiality and Spirituality: Chinese Buddhist Sculptures in the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds: Contesting Fields of Art, Archaeology, and Politics
  • Chinese Ceramics in Context
  • Alien Rule: Art and Material Culture in China from the 10th-14th Centuries
  • 900-100: Art in China at the End of the First Millenium
  • Understanding Art in Chinese Tombs
  • A History of Chinese Art in 100 Objects



Authentic Replicas: Buddhist Art in Medieval China. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, forthcoming in 2018.

Schätze der Liao: Chinas vergessene Nomadendynastie (907-1125). Zürich: Museum Rietberg, 2007. German translation of the research catalogue below.

Gilded Splendor: Treasures of China’s Liao Empire (907-1125). New York: Asia Society; Milano: 5 Continents, 2006. Editor of the book-length exhibition catalogue, and author of select entries and the essay titled “Praying for Eternity: Use of Buddhist Texts in Liao Buddhist and Funerary Practices.”

Articles and Essays

“Shengsi yu niepan – Tang Song zhiji fojiao yu shisu muzang de jiaocuo lingyu” 生死與涅槃-唐宋之際佛教與世俗墓葬的交錯領域 [Where Secular Death and Buddhist Nirvana Intersect: Secular and Religious Burials during the Tang-Song Transition]. In Fojiao meishu yuanliu guoji xueshu yantaohui lunwenji 佛教美術源流國際學術研討會論文集 [Proceedings of the Conference on The Origins of Buddhist Art organized by East China Normal University], edited by Zhang Tongbiao. Shanghai, forthcoming in 2018. In Chinese with an English abstract.

“The China-Abbasid Ceramics Trade during the Ninth and Tenth Centuries: Chinese Ceramics Circulating in the Middle East.” In Blackwell Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture, edited by Gülru Necipoglu and Finbarr B. Flood, 197-217. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017.

“De nomadische afkomst.” In The Great Liao: Nomadendynastie uit Binnen-Mongolië (907-1125),edited by Vincent T. van Vilsteren, 26-34. Zwolle: WBOOKS, 2017.

“Replication and (Re-)creation of the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, Orientations 47.4 (May 2016): 66-72.

“Art, Spirituality, Cultural Heritage: The Buddhist Caves of Dunhuang,” co-authored with Mimi Gardner Gates. In Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road, edited by Neville Agnew, Marcia Reed, and Tevvy Ball, 16-41. L.A.: Getty Publications, 2016.

“Copies without the Original: King Aśoka’s 84,000 Stupas and Their Replications in China.” In Between East and West: Reproductions in Art, Proceedings of the 2013 CIHA Colloquium in Naruto, Japan, 15th-18th January 2013, edited by Shigetoshi Osano, 227-236. Kraków: IRSA Publishing House, 2014.

“Familiar Differences: Chinese Polychromes in the Indian Ocean Trade during the Ninth Century.” In Beiträge zur Islamischen Archäologie, vol. 4: A Hundred Years of Excavations in Samarra, edited by Julia Gonnella, Rania Abdellatif, and Simone Struth, 107-122. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 2014.

“Indian Makara or Chinese Dragon-Fish? Textual Translation and Visual Transformation of Makara in China.” Art in Translation 5.2 (2013): 275-298.

“Between One and Many: Multiples, Multiplication and the Huayan Metaphysics.” Proceedings of the British Academy 181 (2012): 205-258.

“Tombs at the Crossroads of the Worlds of the Living and the Dead.” In Tenth-Century China and Beyond: Art and Visual Culture in a Multi-Centered Age, edited by Wu Hung, 150-178. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

“Image in a Mirror, Moon in the Water: Liao Period Bronze Mirrors Incised with Buddhist Images.” Orientations 37.6 (September 2006): 58-64.

“Interview with Ch’ung-ho Chang Frankel” in the exhibition catalogue Fragrance of the Past: Chinese Calligraphy and Painting by Ch’ung-ho Chang Frankel and Friends, edited by Mimi G. Gates in association with Hsueh-man Shen and Qianshen Bai, 25-26. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2006.

“Body Matters: Manikin Burials in the Liao Tombs of Xuanhua, Hebei Province.” Artibus Asiae 65.1 (2005): 99-141.

Entries in the exhibition catalogue China: The Three Emperors: 1662-1795, edited by Evelyn Rawski and Jessica Rawson. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005.

“Pictorial Representations of the Buddha’s Nirvana in Chinese Relic Deposits.” East Asia Journal: Studies in Material Culture 1.1 (2003): 25-48.

“Luxury or Necessity: Glassware in Śarīra Relic Pagodas of the Tang and Northern Song Periods.” In Chinese Glass: Archaeological Studies on the Uses and Social Context of Glass Artefacts from the Warring States to the Northern Song Period, Orientalia Venetiana, XIV, edited by Cecilia Braghin, 71-110. Florence: Leo S. Olschki Editore, 2002.

“Liao yu Bei Song shelita nei cangjing zhi yanjiu” 遼與北宋舍利塔內藏經之研究 [Scripture Deposits in Northern Song and Liao Pagodas]. Taida Journal of Art History 12 (March, 2002): 169-212. In Chinese.

“Realizing the Buddha’s Dharma-body during the Mofa Period: A Study of the Liao Buddhist Relic Deposits.” Artibus Asiae 61.2 (2001): 263-303.

“Tōjiki no tenkai: Min to Shin no jiki” 陶磁器の展開:明と清の磁器 [Coming into Bloom: Chinese Ceramics in the Ming and Qing Dynasties]. In Ajia bijutsushi アジア美術史 [Art History of Asia], 126-135. Kyoto: Kyoto Zōkei Geijutsu Daigaku, 1999. In Japanese.

“Zhongguo zaoqi qingci: yi Yueyao wei zhongxin” 中國早期青瓷:以越窯為中心 [Early Development of Chinese Greenware: Principally Yue Ware]. Bulletin of the National Museum of History 2 (1996): 6-12. In Chinese.

Entries in the exhibition catalogue Qianfeng cuise: Yueyao tezhan 千峰翠色:越窯特展 [Special Exhibition of Early Chinese Greenware], edited by Shwu-shin Lin, Ming-liang Hsieh, and Wei-hwa Chang. Taipei: Nien-Hsi Foundation, 1996. In Chinese with English translation.

Selected Honors and Awards

2019: Hulsewé-Waznieski Foundation Visiting Professor at Leiden University, The Netherlands.

2018-2019: EURIAS Senior Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

2018: Fellow at the Global Research Institute at NYU Berlin.

2017: Progress 100 Visiting Professor, Kyushu University, Japan.

2017: Grant for Advanced Research and Publication, The Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies.

2016: Grants-in-Aid for Book Publication Subventions, NYU Center for the Humanities.

2016: Millard Meiss Publication Fund, College Art Association.

2008-2009: Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany.

2007: Invited Visiting Professor, East Asian Art History, University of Zürich, Switzerland.

2002-2003: National Science Council Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, National Central University, Taiwan.

1999: Sasakawa Research Fund, Japan.

1998-1999: The Meyerstein Fund for Archaeology, University of Oxford, U.K.

1998: William Lambarde Memorial Fund, Society of Antiquaries of London, U.K.

1996-2000: Government Fellowship for Overseas Studies of the Arts, Ministry of Education, Taiwan.