China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Appropriation of Eurasian Motifs in Medieval China: From “Nestorian Cross” to Pseudo-Religious Metal-Plaques

Friday, July 6
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Jacaranda I, First Floor

Nestorian Crosses, which were mostly found in Ordos region in North-West China (Inner Mongolia), are small bronze plaques with a tiny loop. Most scholars related these to Jingjiao or Nestorianism which is a Christological heresy. The largest collection consisting of almost a thousand pieces were collected by F. A. Nixon in the early Twentieth century. The criss-cross feature and swastika of these bronze plaques made many scholars believe that they have Christian origin associated with motifs of Chinese Buddhist symbols.


Despite these existing assumptions and many unsolved mysteries, this paper will restudy the few excavated thirteenth-century examples and arguments about their Chinese origins under scrutiny. Given existing visual and archaeological evidence, it is believed that the motifs of these metal plaques might not be necessarily related to Buddhism in China but their Eurasian origins. Even the crisscross pattern could simply be derived from some common patterns, which were usually adopted in the material culture in Caucasia during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.


This paper aims to draw attention to the possible Eurasian influence and the appropriation of exotic motifs in these “Nestorian crosses”, and attempts to provide an alternative explanation for such a diverse and large amount of non-cross elements reflected on them. The distortion and variation in their forms may reveal the reception of various Central Asian motifs or religious symbols in Medieval China. These plaques could be the vivid examples of possible traces of cultural exchanges in medieval Eurasia. Hence, their roles in history should be reconsidered.

Send Email for Sau-Wah Ng


Assets

1 - Appropriation of Eurasian Motifs in Medieval China: From “Nestorian Cross” to Pseudo-Religious Metal-Plaques



Attendees who have favorited this

Please enter your access key

The asset you are trying to access is locked. Please enter your access key to unlock.

Send Email for Appropriation of Eurasian Motifs in Medieval China: From “Nestorian Cross” to Pseudo-Religious Metal-Plaques