Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Past Event

Saturday University: Silk and Fashion in Tang China

Jan 11 2020

Seattle Art Museum

Plestcheeff Auditorium

10 AM – 11:30 AM

Silk and the Logics of Cosmopolitan Empire in Tang China
BuYun Chen, Swarthmore College

Commonly regarded as the golden age of Chinese history, the Tang dynasty was marked by impressive economic growth, political innovations, the flourishing of art and literature, and increased contact with the outside world. From the sixth to eighth century, trade along the Silk Road and Tang imperial expansion into Central Asia filtered new goods, technology, and people into the frontier towns and interior cities of the empire. The dynamism of this trade yielded a profound impact on the production of luxury goods—especially, silk textiles—by introducing Tang artisans to a new stock of patterns, colors, and techniques. This talk will explore the critical role that these artisans and weavers played in the making of a cosmopolitan empire.

About the Presenter

BuYun Chen, Assistant Professor of History at Swarthmore College, specializes in the history of textile production, fashion, and craft technology in premodern China. Her book, Empire of Style: Silk and Fashion in Tang China was published in 2019. Her current research explores how the circulation of raw materials, finished goods, and technical knowledge between China, Japan, and Southeast Asia shaped local craft practices.

South Hall doors open at 9:30 am.


OCT 12

Silk Roads Revealed: The Begram Hoard of Afghanistan

OCT 19

Picturing the Buddha’s Last Moment c. 840 CE

OCT 26

The Maritime Silk Road: Goods, Ships and Cultural Diversity


Authenticity and the Reproduction of Buddhist Art and Artifacts in Medieval China


Zoroastrian and Manichean Arts of the Silk Roads

JAN 11

Silk and the Logics of Cosmopolitan Empire in Tang China

JAN 18

The 21st Century Silk Road: China’s Belt and Road Initiative



Full series tickets: $76; SAM members $43
Individual lecture tickets available at the door: $11, SAM members $7; free at the door for students with ID
Please arrive to your seat 10 minutes before the program starts, or your seat may be released.

Image: Bodhisattva leading a lady to the Pure Land (detail), Chinese, Tang dynasty, c. 851-900 CE, Hanging scroll, Ink and colors on silk, 80.5 x 53.8 cm, ©Trustees of the British Museum

The Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are located on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people.