Science and technology were often regarded as a superior or an intensifying reciprocal means by the West when encountering Oriental civilizations beginning in, or before, the nineteenth century. However, they also provided a fresh impetus for Westerners to explore ancient civilization and establish additional knowledge systems. The present article focuses on two scientific fields related to Chinese jade collection and research, mineralogy and archaeology, to understand the role science played in the art collecting process, how it influenced collection configurations and trends, and expanded knowledge systems in pre- and post-war western society. The research results generated a completely different perspective for understanding Chinese jade collection in western society from earlier prevalent research oriented by artistic or historical fields. In terms of jade collecting and research, as Berthold Laufer questioned: “… the idea of searching for jade, working it and valuing it so highly,… as the agency in the search for the prized material” (1912, 4–5), In the present article a similar question is asked: Is modern science the agency in the construct for unique Chinese jade collection and knowledge systems in Western society? In fact, in addition to using in classification to establish systematic knowledge related to collecting culture, science also potentially influenced collection configurations and trends, as well as additional knowledge establishment.
|Keywords:||Science, Chinese Jade Collection, Western Society, Mineralogy, Archaeology|
Professor, Center for General Education and Core Curriculum, Tamkang University, Taipei, Taiwan