Art historian Jessica Rawson wins Taiwan Tang Prize for Sinology

Taipei, June 20 (CNA) Jessica Rawson, a British art historian and curator specializing in ancient Chinese art, has been named the winner of the 2022 Tang Prize in Sinology for her “gift and mastery” of the art of reading Chinese civilization art and artifacts.

Chinese literature scholar and Academician of Academia Sinica David Wang (王德威), chairman of the Tang Prize for Sinology selection committee, made the announcement at a press conference in Taipei on Monday.

“By giving voice to the ancient world of objects, Jessica Rawson taught generations to see when they look at things, and her acumen and vast visual learning gave new insight into the world of lineages, transformations and migrations. dumb things.” Wang said.

The 79-year-old British researcher said she was “incredibly honoured” to receive this award.

“I am an archaeologist interested in material culture. And I am not a Chinese language specialist. And so I did not expect to be considered. So I was almost shocked and surprised and very happy to learn that the foundation had taken an interest in my work,” she said in a pre-recorded speech.

Rawson is considered one of the leading art historians of ancient Chinese art, with a particular interest in the cosmology of the Chinese Han period (206 BC-220 AD) and its relationship to tombs and their decorations.

She wrote many books on subjects such as Chinese jade, Chinese poets from the 7th to 13th centuries, and Chinese silverware from the Tang dynasty, and was the famous Curator of Oriental Antiquities at the British Museum.

After many years at the British Museum, Rawson was Principal of Merton College, Oxford from 1994 until her retirement in 2010. She was Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 2006 for a term of five years.

Currently, she is an Honorary Research Associate at the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford.

Rawson is also a member of the Academic Council of the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, a member of the Art Fund Advisory Council, a Fellow of the British Academy and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of services to studies. oriental.

His achievements in Chinese studies have also earned him many honors in China, including an honorary professorship at Peking University.

According to the Tang Prize Foundation, Rawson’s contributions show that “in addition to writing, there is another talent, another profession, which, by reading the arts and artefacts of the world, makes it possible to interpret and understand societies distant and ancient, with their beliefs and interactions”.

His studies of ancient Chinese tombs also provided a complete afterlife for the dead, he said.

Apart from her academic achievements, Rawson also develops and promotes exchanges in the field of Sinology to help the public better understand Chinese civilization with the exhibitions she has curated at the British Museum, he added.

The Tang Prize is a biennial award established in 2012 by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin (尹衍樑), Chairman of Ruentex Group, to honor individuals who have made significant contributions in four categories: sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, sinology and state of right. .

The Tang Prize for Sinology honors the study of Sinology, rewarding research on China and its related fields, such as Chinese thought, history, philology, linguistics, archaeology, philosophy, religion, the traditional canons, literature and art, excluding literary and artistic works. .

Prize winners receive a cash award of NT$40 million (US$1.34 million) and an additional NT$10 million in research funding, as well as a gold medal and certificate.

The first sinology laureate was Yu Ying-shih (余英時) in 2014. William Theodore de Bary won the 2016 Sinology Prize, followed by Stephen Owen and Yoshinobu Shiba in 2018, and Wang Gungwu (王賡武) in 2020.

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