Between Ethnology and Cultural History

Where to Place East Asian Objects in Slovenian Museums?

Authors

  • Nataša VAMPELJ SUHADOLNIK University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2021.9.3.85-116

Keywords:

National Museum of Slovenia, Slovene Ethnographic Museum, East Asian objects, museum classification, ethnology, cultural history, art

Abstract

While a few larger collections of objects of East Asian origin entered Slovenian mu­seums after the deaths of their owners in the 1950s and 60s, individual items had begun finding their way there as early as the nineteenth century. Museums were faced early on with the problem not only of how to store and exhibit the objects, but also how to categorize them. Were they to be treated as “art” on account of their aesthetic value or did they belong, rather, to the field of “ethnography” or “anthropology” because they could illustrate the way of life of other peoples? Above all, in which museums were these objects to be housed?

The present paper offers an in-depth analysis of these and related questions, seeking to shed light on how East Asian objects have been showcased in Slovenia (with a focus on the National Museum and the Slovene Ethnographic Museum) over the past two hundred years. In particular, it explores the values and criteria that were applied when placing these objects into individual categories. In contrast to the conceptual shift from “ethnology” to the “decorative and fine arts,” which can mostly be observed in the categorization of East Asian objects in North America and the former European colonial countries, the classification of such objects in Slovenia varied between “ethnology” and “cultural history,” with ethnology ultimately coming out on top. This ties in with the more general question of how (East) Asian cultures were understood and perceived in Slovenia, which is itself related to the historical and social development of the “peripheral” Slovenian area compared with former major imperial centres.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Baskar, Bojan. 2015. Nacionalna identiteta kot imperialna zapuščina: uvod v slovensko etnomitologijo. Ljubljana: Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete.

Beattie, James, and Lauren Murray. 2011. “Mapping the Social Lives of Objects: Popular and Artistic Responses to the 1937 Exhibition of Chinese Art in New Zealand.” East Asian History 37: 39–58.

Chang, Ting. 2011. “Goncourt’s China Cabinet: China Fantasy and a Nineteenth-Century French Collector.” In Collecting China: The World, China and a History of Collecting, edited by Vimalin Rujivacharakul, 31–45. Newark: University of Delaware Press.

Clunas, Craig. 1997. “Oriental Antiquities/Far Eastern Art.” In Formations of Colonial Modernity in East Asia, edited by Tani E. Barlow, 413–46. Durham, N.C., London: Duke University Press.

Conn, Steven. 2000. “Where Is the East? Asian Objects in American Museums, from Nathan Dunn to Charles Freer.” Winterthur Portfolio 35 (2/3): 157–73.

Čeplak Mencin, Ralf. 2012. V deželi nebesnega zmaja. 350 let stikov s Kitajsko. Ljubljana: Založba /*cf.

Deschmann, Karl. 1888. Führer durch das Krainische Landes-Museum Rudolfinum in Laibach. Laibach (Ljubljana): Kleinmayr & Bamberg.

Fiskesjö, Magnus. 2007. “The Trouble with World Culture: Recent Museum Developments in Sweden.” Anthropology Today 23 (5): 6–11.

Golob, Nataša. 2020. Prvo stoletje oddelka za umetnostno zgodovino. Ljubljana: Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani.

Hrvatin, Klara. 2021. “The First ‘Mrs. Japanese’ of Slovenia Between the Two World Wars:

Marija Tsuneko Skušek and Her Series of Lectures on a Japanese Woman.” Asian Studies 9 (3): 169–97.

Hudales, Jože. 2003. “Pozitivne in negativne tradicije izpred zgodovine Slovenskega etnografskega muzeja: Ob osemdesetletnici.” Etnolog 13: 59–95.

Joyeux-Prunel, Béatrice. 2015. “Provincializing Paris. The Center–Periphery Narrative of Modern Art in Light of Quantitative and Transnational Approaches.” Artl@s Bulletin 4 (1): 40–64.

Kos, Mateja. 2020. “Od Deželnega muzeja za Kranjsko do Narodnega muzeja Slovenije: zbiranje, zbirke in zbiralna politika.” Ars & Humanitas 14 (2): 15–27.

Lee, Chinyun. 2001. “The Short Life of the Austrian Concession in Tianjin.” Asian and African Studies 5 (1/2): 74–92.

Lee, Sonya S. 2016. “Introduction: Ideas of Asia in the Museum.” Journal of the History of Collections 28 (3): 359–66.

Lipušček, Uroš. 2013. “Interpretations of the Chinese Boxer Rebellion in the Slovenian Press at the Beginning of the 20th Century.” Asian Studies 1 (2): 35–49. https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2013.1.2.35-49.

Lombergar, Janez. 2002. “Izpis odlomkov iz obsežnih spominov mojega deda Francija Skuška (*1893), ki zadevajo njegovega brata Ivana Skuška ml (*1877) ter njegovo ženo Tsuneko Kavase – Marijo Skušek (*1893).” Ljubljana: typescript in private ownership. Unpublished material.

Mal, Josip, ed. 1931. Vodnik po zbirkah Narodnega muzeja v Ljubljani: kulturno zgodovinski del. Ljubljana: Narodni muzej v Ljubljani.

Marinac, Bogdana. 2017. Čez morje na nepoznani daljni vzhod: potovanja pomorščakov avstrijske in avstro-ogrske vojne mornarice v Vzhodno Azijo. Piran: Pomorski muzej.

——. 2020. “Neevropska dediščina v Pomorskem muzeju ‘Sergej Mašera’ Piran.” Glasnik Slovenskega etnološkega društva 60 (1): 7–21.

Motoh, Helena. 2020. “Azija med tigri in maliki: misijonske razstave v Sloveniji v prvi polovici 20. stoletja.” Glasnik Slovenskega etnološkega društva 60 (1): 34–41.

Museums Scotland. n.d. East Asian Collections in Scottish Museums. Accessed September 17, 2020. https://www.nms.ac.uk/national-international/sharing-collections/national-projects/east-asia-collections/.

Orel, Boris. 1953–1954. “O etnografskih zbirkah iz Afrike, Amerike in Azije v Etnografskem muzeju v Ljubljani.” Slovenski etnograf 6 (7): 139–46.

Pagani, Catherine. 1998. “Chinese Material Culture and British Perceptions of China in the Mid-Nineteenth Century.” In Colonialism and the Object: Empire, Material Culture and the Museum, edited by Tim Barringer, and Tom Flynn, 28–40. London and New York: Routledge.

Palaić, Tina. 2019. “Muzej neevropskih kultur v Goričanah: Prakse pridobivanja zunajevropskih zbirk povezanih z gibanjem neuvrščenih.” Etnolog 29: 133–56.

——. 2020. “Pavla Štrukelj: Kustodinja za neevropske kulture v Slovenskem etnografskem muzeju med letoma 1955 in 1990.” Glasnik Slovenskega etnološkega društva 60 (1): 22–33.

Pierson, Stacey. 2011. “From Market and Exhibition to University: Sir Percival David and the Institutionalization of Chinese Art History in England.” In Collecting China: The World, China and a History of Collecting, edited by Vimalin Rujivacharakul, 130–37. Newark: University of Delaware Press.

——. 2014. “Reinventing ‘China’ Art: Provenance, Categories and the Collecting of Chinese Ceramics, 1910–2010.” In Collectors, Collections and Collecting the Arts of China: Histories and Challenges, edited by Jason Steuber, and Guolong Lai, 223–44. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

——. 2018. “‘True Beauty of Form and Chaste Embellishment’: Summer Palace Loot and Chinese Porcelain Collecting in Nineteenth-Century Britain.” In Collecting and Displaying China’s “Summer Palace” in the West: The Yuanmingyuan in Britain and France, edited by Louise Tythacott, 72–86. Abingdon, New York: Routledge.

Piškur, Bojana. 2019. “Južna ozvezdja: druge zgodovine, druge modernosti.” In Južna ozvezdja: poetike neuvrščenih, edited by Tamara Soban, 9–24. Ljubljana: Moderna galerija.

Promitzier, Christian. 2003. “Niko Zupančič kot slovenski etnolog: Njegovo ravnateljevanje v Etnografskem muzeju v Ljubljani (1923–1940).” Etnolog 13: 287–347.

Rogelj Škafar, Bojana. 1993. Slovenski etnografski muzej – sprehod skozi čas in le delno skozi prostor. Ljubljana: Slovenski etnografski muzej.

——. 2003. “Etnološki muzeji in nacionalna identiteta: Slovenski etnografski muzej.” Etnolog 13: 31–57.

Shin, K. Ian. 2016. “The Chinese Art ‘Arms Race’: Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism in Chinese Art Collecting and Scholarship between the United States and Europe, 1900–1920.” The Journal of American-East Asian Relations 23 (3): 229–56.

Skušek, Franci. n.d. Rokopisni zapiski Francija Skuška. Ljubljana: Slovenski etnografski muzej.

Šmitek, Zmago. 2007. “Ob razstavi Srečevanja s Kitajsko – 200 let slovenskih odkrivanj kitajske kulture.” Etnolog 17: 275–77.

Štrukelj, Pavla. 1965–1966. “Kitajski dvorni moški kaftan.” Slovenski etnograf 18/19: 57–72.

——. 1980–1982. “Neevropske zbirke v muzeju Goričane.” Slovenski etnograf 32: 125–58.

——. 1991. “Slovenski zbiralci in raziskovalci neevropskih kultur v 19. stoletju.” Etnolog 1: 164–74.

Thomsen, Hans Bjarne. 2015. “Japanese Collections in Switzerland.” In Siebold’s Vision of Japan: As Seen in Japan-Related Collections of the West, edited by the National Museum of Japanese History, 89–98 and 273–80. Sakura: National Museum of Japanese History.

Tythacott, Louise. 2011. The Lives of Chinese Objects: Buddhism, Imperialism and Display. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books.

——. 2018. “The Yuanmingyuan and its Objects.” In Collecting and Displaying China’s “Summer Palace” in the West: The Yuanmingyuan in Britain and France, edited by Louise Tythacott, 3–24. Abingdon, New York: Routledge.

Vampelj Suhadolnik, Nataša. 2019. “Zbirateljska kultura in vzhodnoazijske zbirke v Sloveniji.” In Procesi in odnosi v Vzhodni Aziji: zbornik EARL, edited by Andrej Bekeš, Jana Rošker, and Zlatko Šabič, 93–137. Ljubljana: Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani.

——. 2020. “Collecting Chinese Objects in Slovenia at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.” Ming Qing Yanjiu 24 (2): 161–80.

Visočnik Gerželj, Nataša. 2021. “Dancing with the Fan: The Role and Value of a Japanese Fan and Kimonos in the Transmission of Japanese Culture by Marija Tsuneko Skušek.” Asian Studies 10 (3): 199–221.

Weckbecker, Wilhelm Freiherr von. 1902. Handbuch der Kunstpflege in Österreich. Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Schulbücher-Verlage.

Yeh, Wen-Hsin. 2011. “Living with Art: The Yeh Family Collection and the Modern Practices of Chinese Collecting.” In Collecting China: The World, China, and a History of Collecting, edited by Vimalin Rujivacharakul, 176–83. Newark: University of Delaware Press.

Downloads

Published

10.09.2021

How to Cite

Vampelj Suhadolnik, N. (2021). Between Ethnology and Cultural History: Where to Place East Asian Objects in Slovenian Museums?. Asian Studies, 9(3), 85–116. https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2021.9.3.85-116