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The OCS is delighted to announce a lecture by Tony Miller, former President of the OCS on the controversial origins of the so-called ‘Yixian Luohans’. With the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911, confusion inside China created opportunities for dealers to acquire and export an extraordinary range of antiquities and historical objects. Amongst them a group of beautiful sculpted-from-life glazed terracotta figures discovered in 1912 caused a particular stir. Only ten of what would have been a set of sixteen or eighteen of these figures of enlightened Buddhist monks are known to have survived, and are today scattered between museums in North America, Europe and Japan. For a little over a century, scholars of Chinese religious art, curators and connoisseurs in the West have been mesmerised by Friedrich Perzynski’s account of the discovery. Yet the origins of the ‘Yixian Luohans’ as they have come to be known thanks to Perzynski’s account has been a source of controversy since they first appeared.

In his talk, Tony Miller will recount the extraordinary story of the discovery of the ‘Yixian Luohans’, update members on recent research and offer his own view of why much that has been written since these luohans first surfaced in 1912 has been misguided.

Tony Miller is a former President of the Oriental Ceramic Society and a member of the Min Chiu Society. He has previously addressed members of the OCS on Chinoiserie and carved porcelain, and has recently published research essays on reticulated porcelain of the late Ming dynasty and the rise of the Dutch to dominance of the porcelain trade in the seventeenth century. He is a keen collector of carved Chinese porcelain whose research of the genre was published in the catalogue for the ground-breaking exhibition “Elegance in Relief: Carved Porcelain from Jingdezhen of the 19th and Early 20th Centuries” at the Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2005-06.

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