In the 1270s China’s Song dynasty fell to the forces of Khubilai Khan. China had weathered dynastic collapse and rulers from north of the Great Wall many times before, but for the first time, not only was all of China ruled by foreigners, in the new Yuan dynasty China was a small part of a vast, pan-Asian empire. Architecture would be the medium through which the Mongols established an empire and through which China survived Mongol rule. The lecture begins by examining major Chinese monuments of the Yuan century (1267-1368), including a stage, mosque, and observatory, to show how the Mongols used China’s building tradition to best advantage. Then it turns to the little-known private worlds of architecture, both of the Mongol ruling family and Chinese subjects, as revealed through a newly excavated city, cave-site, ritual complex, and tomb. Finally the lecture looks at the different sources of excavated evidence to assess about how information is conveyed when few written records survive to confirm it.
Nancy S. Steinhardt is a Professor of East Asian Art in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Curator of Chinese Art at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. She has taught at Penn since 1982, previously having taught at Bryn Mawr College and University of Delaware. Steinhardt received her PhD in Fine Arts at Harvard in 1981 and was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows from 1978-81. She received her A.B. summa cum laude from Washington University in 1974.
Much of Professor Steinhardt's research has focused on East Asian architecture and urban planning; but her broader research interests include problems that result from the interaction between Chinese art and that of peoples at China's borders, particularly to China's North, Northeast, and Northwest. She is author of Chinese Traditional Architecture (1984), Chinese Imperial City Planning (1990), and Liao Architecture (1997); editor and adaptor of A History of Chinese Architecture (2002), co-editor of Hawaii Reader in Traditional Chinese Culture (2005), and has written more than 60 scholarly articles and more than 30 book reviews. She has given more than 120 public lectures or conference talks.
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