10 May 2012 James Lin China Night lecture

10 May 2012

Speaker: Dr. James Lin

Senior Assistant Keeper, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Topic: Royal Tomb Treasures of Han China

Venue & Date:

Room 612, 5:30pm Thursday, 10th May 2012 (Followed by wine reception at Staff Common Room, all welcome.)


The Han period (206 BC-AD220) is noted for the lavishness of its burials. However, Chinese texts hardly mention how the imperial household prepared for the funeral of the emperor or imperial family members. Judging from the large scale of the tomb structures and the rich funeral objects in a diverse range of materials, the construction of Han imperial tombs and the preparation of burial items were under strict and complicated supervision. The emperors’ tombs in Xi’an cannot be opened for conservation reasons, so we do not know what they look like. However, judging from the imperial members’ tombs that have been excavated in eastern China, we can assume that an emperor’s tomb would have been similar to those of the kings in eastern China, but larger in scale.  This talk aims to reconstruct the Han imperial funeral process by putting all of the pieces of the jigsaw together from the surviving texts and the archaeological evidence. This talk will also discuss the idea of organising this exhibition and how the galleries are arranged.


James C. S. Lin is the Senior Assistant Keeper of Applied Art at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, with responsibility for the Asian art collection.  James obtained his Ph.D. in Chinese Art History at the University of Oxford.  He worked as a Research Assistant at the Ashmolean Museum between 2000 - 2002.  He was employed as a Special Assistant at the British Museum, helping to set up the Selwyn and Ellie Alleyne Gallery of Chinese Jade in 2002.  Afterwards he returned to Oxford as the first Christensen Fellow in Chinese Painting, at the Khoan and Michael Sullivan Chinese painting gallery at the Ashmolean Museum.  In September 2004 he was appointed as the Assistant Keeper of Applied Arts at the Fitzwilliam Museum.