Exhibition: Looted Goods? 5 Questions on Objects from China at the End of the Imperial Era (University of Zurich, Ethnographic Museum)

Date of event:   03/03/2023 − 12/05/2024

Title: Looted Goods? 5 Questions on Objects from China at the End of the Imperial Era
Duration: 3 March 2023 to 12 May 2024
Institution: University of Zurich, Ethnographic Museum, Z├╝rich, Switzerland

“From the looting of Peking” it says of inventory no. 01838, “Carved teak wood panelling with animal figures, floral arabesques”. Together with fine silk robes, porcelains, bronzes, scroll paintings and shoes for bound feet, these objects reached Zurich. Looted goods?

The label “From the looting of Peking” refers to the Boxer War. At the end of the 19th century, the anti-Christian, anti-colonial Boxer movement was formed in northern China. In 1900-1901, eight foreign armies joined forces in the war against the Boxers and advanced as far as inside the imperial palace in Beijing. A power vacuum provided space for looting on a massive scale. Large quantities of valuables, pieces of art and everyday objects ended up in the hands of officers and soldiers, of dealers and, in the long run, in museums and collections worldwide.

The exhibition takes an inquiring look at possible looted goods from China from around 1900 in Swiss collections. What has become of them? How should we deal with them? What significance do the objects have for Chinese people today? What should we communicate about them?

For more information, please visit the website here.

Image: Twenty-eight pairs of shoes for bound feet are preserved in the Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich.