Conference: Reign of the Kangxi Emperor

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The Asian Civilisations Museum dropped me a note about their upcoming one-day conference on the Reign of the 17th century Kangxi Emperor, in conjunction with the museum’s major exhibition for the year. The conference will touch on the life and times of the Kangxi Emperor, and also his foreign policy in which Southeast Asia features.

Reign of the Kangxi Emperor

A Conference at the Asian Civilisations Museum
21 March 2009
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10 more days to visit Vietnam: From Myth to Modernity

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I’m back in Singapore for the weekend and one of the items on my to-do list was to visit the Vietnam: From Myth to Modernity exhibition at the Asian Civilisations Museum. When this exhibition first opened, I had only just started my stint up north, so I was glad to finally have been able to catch this exhibition before it closed at the end of this month. If you’ve been a loyal reader of this blog, you would have realised that by far, Vietnam is the most prolific country in terms of archaeological news that gets published here – this is in part because Vietnam’s archaeological heritage is quite varied and multi-layered. I haven’t visited Vietnam myself, and I reckon it’d take me at least three or four trips to see everything that I want to see. In this respect, this exhibition did quite a good job in revealing the breadth of Vietnam’s history from prehistory to modernity through the country’s artifacts. Read on to discover Vietnam’s archaeological heritage.

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Selections April/May 2008

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A selection of archaeology-related books, new to the catalogue of Select Books, a specialised publisher and retailer of books pertaining to Southeast Asia. For ordering info, please visit the Select Books website.

Early Southeast Asia: Selected Essays. Wolters, O. W.; Craig J. Reynolds (ed.). Us. 2008. 236pp. pb. $65.00 (This collection of previously published essays on early Southeast Asia is introduced by an overview of Oliver Wolters’ (1915-2000) life and career. From 1938-1957 he was in the (colonial) Malayan Civil Service and from 1958 in academia in London and at Cornell where his ground-breaking research and teaching on early Southast Asia became legendary. The eleven essays are grouped as: Southeast Asia as a Region; the Long Durée of Malay history; Mainland Mandalas; and Vietnamese Historiography and Literature.)
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Public lecture: The Cargo of the East Indiaman Götheborg Shipwreck

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For anyone interested in underwater archaeology and the Southeast Asian ceramics trade, you might be interested in this talk at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore.

The Cargo of the East Indiaman Götheborg Shipwreck
02 Apr 2008
Wednesday, 7.00 pm
Discovery Room, ACM Empress Place
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Buddhism in Asia: Conference Programme


A few weeks ago I posted an announcement for a conference on Buddhism in Asia to be held at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. The conference programme has been released, and here are the presentations on Southeast Asia:

(All on 20th January)

Prof Tansen Sen, USA
Department of History, Baruch College,
The City University of New York
Buddhist Networks in Asian and World History

Prof Nik Hassan Suhaimi, Malaysia
Senior Research Fellow and Archaeologist
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Buddhism in the Bujang Valley (5th – 10th centuries)

Prof John Miksic, Singapore
Associate Professor, Southeast Asian Studies
National University of Singapore
On Srivijaya in Sumatra and Central Java

Dr Peter Skilling, Thailand
École française d’Extrême Orient de Bangkok
Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre
Writing and Representation: Inscribed Objects in the ‘Nalanda Trail’ Exhibition

Registration closes on Jan 13, so there’s only a few days left to sign up if you’re interested. The conference is held in conjunction with the exhibition On the Nalanda Trail: Buddhism in India, China and Southeast Asia. You can read SEAArch’s review here.

(You might also be interested in reading about the Bujang Valley site here and here).

Related Books:
Buddhist Art: Form & Meaning by P. Pal
Reading Buddhist Art by M. McArthur
The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia (Suny Series in Religion) by D. K. Swearer
Sriwijaya: History, religion & language of an early Malay polity by G. Coedès and L. Damais

Conference on Buddhism in Asia at the Asian Civilisations Museum

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In conjunction with The Nalanda Trail exhibition at the Asian Civilisations Museum, there’s going to be a conference on Buddhist interactions and practices in Southeast Asia and Asia. Check out our special feature on the Nalanda exhibition here.

Buddhism in India, China and Southeast Asia — Interaction and Practice
19 – 20 Jan 2008
9.00 a.m to 6.00 p.m.
Ngee Ann Auditorium, Asian Civilisations Museum

The two-day conference will focus on the spread of Buddhism with special reference to the role of Nalanda as a centre of learning, in conjunction with the exhibition titled — On the Nalanda Trail: Buddhism in India, China and Southeast Asia. Through this conference, interconnections between India, China and Southeast Asia will be explored and re-examined. Papers highlight new findings or interpretations of Buddhist art, architecture, history and literature in India, Central Asia, China and Southeast Asia. A part of the conference will be devoted to examining aspects of Buddhist way of life including worship and monasticism in various countries of Asia. Topics such as the multidimensional and multicultural significance of Amaravati, Nalanda and Srivijaya; the iconography of paintings at Kizil and Xinjiang in Central Asial; and the Chinese assimilation of Avalokiteshvara into Guanyin will be discussed.
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Nalanda and the Southeast Asian connection


If you’re in Singapore between now and March 2008, don’t miss a unique opportunity to drop by the Asian Civilisations Museum for a special exhibition called On the Nalanda Trail, which showcases Buddhism in India, China and Southeast Asia and traces the pilgrimages of three Chinese monks as they travel to India and back. I’ve written about the exhibition’s focus on China and India at; here, I’ll write about the exhibition in relation to Buddhism in Southeast Asia.

Nalanda Trail - SEA section

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Singapore Museums collections online

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In conjunction with this year’s International Museum Day, the National Heritage Board of Singapore have launched SGCool, an online repository of the collections stored in the National Museum of Singapore, the Asian Civilisations Museum and the Singapore Art Museum.


Digitising museums’ collections is a great step forward in making the material cultures featured in the museums more accessible to the public. For now, the collections in SGCool are divided into categories like “bronze, “photographs” and “gold”. Clicking on any artefact gives you a close-up picture, along with their provenance.

However, I was disappointed that I didn’t actually learn anything from the artefacts I was looking at. I was quite horrified to see bronze Dong Son drums labelled as “Drums. 180-100 BCE. North Vietnam.”. Besides the name of the item, the approximate age and its provenance, there was nothing else to tell me about the exhibits, such as their context and their uses, or even the cultures that made. If there’s one thing that SGCool has to improve on, it’s to provide more details about the exhibits in their collections. One good example of an online museum collection with great accompanying information is the Compass collection at the British Museum.

Like my archaeology lecturers used to tell me: objects without contexts are useless!