Marco Polo Studies and Yuan dynasty money

There was a very interesting conference in Tübingen this week: Marco Polo Studies: Past, Present, Future (I’ve copied and pasted the programme below). It was an intense, and friendly, workshop, bringing together expertise from different fields. I’m not an expert in this period, and felt very honoured to be invited, and to have the chance to learn from specialists from Austria, China, France, Germany, Italy and the USA. I gave a powerpoint presentation packed with images, aiming to illustrate representative pieces and introduce some recent work. I mentioned, for example:


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Marco Polo Studies:  Past, Present, Future – the conference programme

International Conference supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation (Taiwan), organized by Prof. Dr. Hans Ulrich Vogel and Dr. Ulrich Theobald, at the Philosophische Fakultät, Asien-Orient-Institut, Abteilung Sinologie und Koreanistik, Wilhelmstr. 133, on 10-11 October 2017.

Tuesday, Oct 10
8:00 Welcome Address by Prof. Dr. Jürgen Leonhardt, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, University of Tübingen
Introduction Hans Ulrich Vogel, Ulrich Theobald
8:15-9:15 Past Researches, Current Work, and Future Investigations on the «Devisement du monde» of Marco Polo, Philippe Ménard
9:45-10:15 The Textual Transmission of the «Devisement dou monde»: Old Problems and New Insights, Alvise Andreose
10:15-11:40 On the Way to an Integral Edition of the Book of Marco Polo: A First Attempt to Create a Digital Version, Eugenio Burgio, Samuela Simion
14:15-14:45 “Déviations”: «Le Devisement dou monde» and the World Empire of Letters, Sharon Kinoshita
14:45-15:15 Who Read Marco Polo’s Book and what for? Christine Gadrat 
16:15-16:45 Literary Styles in the «Devisement du Monde», Danièle James-Raoul
16:45-17:15 Persia – A Strategical Place in the «Devisement du monde»: Order and Disorder in the Progress of the Narrative, Michèle Guéret-Laferté
17:15-17:45 Exotism in Marco Polo’s Accounts, with a Focus on his Return from Asia, Dominique Boutet

Wednesday, Oct 11
9:00-9:30 Marco Polo on Nestorianism, TANG Li
9:30-10:00 The Ancestors of Marco’s Marvels: Mirabilia mundi in Latin Travel Reports of the 13th Century, Johannes Gießauf
10:30-11:00 On Yuan Dynasty Money, Helen Wang
11:00-11:30 The Military System of the Yuan Dynasty, Ulrich Theobald
14:00-14:30 Three Mongolian Toponyms of Marco Polo’s Cambaluc, DANG Baohai
14:30-15:00 On the Custom of Sexual Hospitality in Marco Polo’s the Description of the World, LUO Wei
15:30-16:00 Marco Polo’s Crouching Dragons and Hidden Tigers, Hans Ulrich Vogel
16:00-16.30 The Description of the City of Quinsai in the Early Tradition of the «Devisement dou monde», Guiseppe Mascherpa
16:30-17:00 Tibet in the Major Versions of Marco Polo, Michel Quereuil


Zhu Xihua, coin designer and engraver

Zhu Xihua 朱熙华, coin designer and engraver at the Shanghai Mint Co Ltd 上海造币有限公司 has just been honoured with a Shanghai Skilled Worker Award.


Zhu Xihua 朱熙华 (source)

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The Shanghai Skilled Workers Awards 2017  (source)

The winners of the Shanghai Skilled Workers Awards 2017 (上海2017年工匠命名) were announced on the 19 September 2017, with 94 highly skilled people receiving the honour. Online news in English also calls these the Shanghai Artisans Awards or the Shanghai Craftsmen Awards, which is somewhat misleading as the awards are for excellence in various industries (electricity, steel, shipbuilding, aerospace, automotive, communications, construction, transportation, and more). The awards are organised by the Shanghai Federation of Trades Unions, with the aim of building up 1000 Skilled Workers over a decade (roughly 100 per year from 2016 to 2025) to speed up Shanghai’s development as a centre of innovation in science and technology , and the implementation of the national initiative “Made in China 2025“. The winners are also promoted on TV, and in publications. In 2016, 88 awards were made. In 2017, there were 767 nominations, and 94 awards were made.

Zhu Xihua has been working as coin designer and engraver for over a decade, and has contributed to the design of over 100 commemorative coins. Born in 1982, he graduated from the Shanghai Theatre Academy (上海戏剧学院) where he majored in stage design (2002-2005). He joined the Shanghai Mint Co Ltd in 2005, where he learned from senior designers Luo Yonghui 罗永辉 and Yu Min 余敏, and was selected to work on a new series of Chinese gold and silver zodiac coins, two of which were nominated for the Krause “Coin of the Year” awards.


Year of the Ox coin (source)

One of Zhu’s medals was selected for FIDEM XXXIII (The International Art Medal Federation’s 33rd congress and exhibition), held in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2014. It was a brass medal, titled “2011 International Year of Forests“. The obverse features a bird, whose feathers are also leaves. The reverse features a human embryo at the centre, surrounded by creatures of the forest.


Zhu Xihua’s medal “2011 International Year of Forests” (obverse) (source)


Zhu Xihua’s medal “2011 International Year of Forests” (reverse) (source)

It was the first time that medalists from China took part in FIDEM, and six medals were presented – by ZHU Xihua, WANG An, LIAO Bo, ZHONG Chengxin, DENG Shanshan and LUO Yonghui (for details, see the FIDEM XXXIII Catalogue, 2014, pp. 48-52).

In 2016, the Shanghai Mint Co Ltd established the Zhu Xihua Art Design Studio (朱熙华艺术设计工作室), with a team of 10 designers (8 of whom, including Zhu himself, were born in the 1980s). This team designed the set of 5 silver coins commemorating the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (1 August 1927).


The set of 5 silver coins commemorating the 90th anniversary of the armed forces in China (source: 中国金币 – there are many more images on this site)


Money in Ancient China: People and their Everyday Life around Money

Money in Ancient China: People and their Everyday Life around Money, by KAKINUMA Yōhei (Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 2015, ISBN 978-4642057950)  —  thanks to Wen-yi Huang for highlighting this book on her EarlyChinaSinology blog. The book is in Japanese, and I’ve tried to put the abstract and contents into English below. (My Japanese isn’t very good, and if you spot any errors, please let me know so I can correct them.) (more…)