Few objects are as universal, ubiquitous and multi-functional as a jar. The term ‘jar’ refers to any man-made shape with the capacity to enclose something, and hence jars are part of human experience throughout time and space, regardless of whether they contain matter or a void, food or drink, life-giving medicine or the ashes of the deceased. Yet, as ubiquitous as such containers, storage vessels, urns, and other kinds of jars might be, they may have been studied by archaeologists and anthropologists, but so far remained almost invisible to the eye of the (art) historian. This conference, entitled ‘Global Jars: Asian Containers as Transcultural Enclosures’, aims to make jars of all kinds visible in a variety of spatial contexts.

This conference brings together an interdisciplinary team of scholars in the fields of ceramic studies, history and art history to approach the topic of the jar from multiple perspectives. Contributors are invited to consider jars not only as (household) utensils and evidence of lost or present human civilizations but also as artefacts in their own right, as culturally and aesthetically defined crafted goods and as objects charged with spiritual meanings and ritual significance. They understand jars not only as belonging to a single place, but as global or transcultural artefacts in which different cultures meet and merge. The goal is furthermore to examine jars not only as ceramic containers, but as materializing a boundary between inside and outside, content and environment, exterior worlds and interior enclosures; jars not only as things in the hands of makers, users, and collectors, but, in some cases, as understood to possess human-like agency, animalistic or other-worldly powers themselves.

This conference uses art-historical methods to understand jars as transcultural containers that mediate between inside and outside, Asian and non-Asian, local and global, this-worldly and other-worldly realms. Special attention is given to the relationships between the filling, emptying and re-filling of jars with a variety of contents through time and throughout space and the charging, eliminating and re-charging of these particular objects with different sets of meanings.


Date: 8th and 9th September 2018
Time: 10:00-20:00 on 8th September 2018; 10:30-17:00 on 9th September 2018
Venue: WLB104 Lam Woo International Conference Centre, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
Registration Fee: HK$300 per person for two-day access; registration fee waived for HKBU current students

**Registration now at :



September 8, 2018

10:00 – 10:10

Welcome by the Director of Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University

10:10 – 10:30

Introduction by the Organisers

Panel I

Chair: Anna Grasskamp (Hong Kong Baptist University)

10:30 – 11:00

Anne Gerritsen (University of Warwick & Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society),

What Makes a Jar Global? The Circulations of a Cizhou Wineflask

11:00 – 11:30

Jiří Jákl (Heidelberg University),

Carrying Liquor: Production, Trade, and Uses of the ‘Mercury Jars’ in East and Southeast Asia (10th – 14th centuries CE)

11:30 – 12:00 Q & A

12:00 – 13:30 Lunch Break

Panel II

Chair: Libby Lai-Pik Chan (Hong Kong Maritime Museum)

13:30 – 14:00

Yong-Hwa Jung (National Research Institute of Maritime Cultural Heritage),

Jars of the 12th-13th Century Koryeo Dynasty Excavated from Korean Shipwrecks

14:00 – 14:30

Beatrice Wisniewski (Centre Asie du Sud-Est, École Française d’Extrême-Orient),

Vietnamese Storage Jars and Long-Distance Trade: Reflections and New Evidences

14:30 – 15:00

Atthasit Sukkham (Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum, Bangkok University),

Siamese Jar and Its Significance to Southeast Asian Trade during the 14th to 18th Centuries

15:00 – 15:30 Q & A

15:30 – 16:00 Bus to Hong Kong Maritime Museum

16:00 – 17:15 Afternoon Break with Refreshments for Speakers

17:15 – 18:30 Guided tour at Hong Kong Maritime Museum

18:30 – 19:30 Keynote Lecture at Hong Kong Maritime Museum

Chair: John Johnston (Hong Kong Baptist University)

Louise Allison Cort

(Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution),

Inside and Outside, Volume and Surface, Bulk and Beauty: The Dual Identities of Container Jars in Asia

19:30 Reception at Hong Kong Maritime Museum

September 9, 2018

Panel III

Chair: Ching May Bo (City University of Hong Kong & Sun Yat-sen University)

10:30 – 11:00

John Johnston (Hong Kong Baptist University),

Lotus Collar Jars of Vietnam – Buddhist or Secular Objects?

11:00 – 11:30

Wu Wen-ting (Independent Scholar),

The Chinese Fish Tank and Its Global Context

11:30 – 11:45 Coffee Break

11:45 – 12:15

Sooyoung Leam (Courtauld Institute of Art),

Disobedient Object: White Porcelain in Contemporary Korean Sculpture

12:15-12:45 Q & A

12:45 – 14:00 Lunch Break

Panel IV


Anne Gerritsen (University of Warwick & Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society)

14:00 – 14:30

Sharon Wai-yee Wong (Chinese University of Hong Kong),

Archaeological Study on Ceramic Jars found from South China and Central Vietnam during the 15-16th Centuries

14:30 – 15:00

Borbala Niyiri (Independent Scholar),

Dragons in Flux – A Changing Relationship between Jars and People in Borneo

15:00 – 15:30

Eva Ströber (Former curator, Museum Princessehof)

For Wine., Oil, Date Honey and the Tomb of a Chinese Queen- A Reciprocal Trade of Jars from China and Persia in Late Tang

15:30 – 16:00 Q & A

16:00 – 16:15 Coffee Break

16:15 – 16:30

Anna Grasskamp (Hong Kong Baptist University),


16:30 – 17:30

Roundtable Discussion


–   Kyoungjin Bae (University of Hong Kong)

–   Eileen Hau Ling Lam (Education University of Hong Kong)

–   Maria Kar-Wing Mok (Hong Kong Museum of Art)

–   Gerhard Wolf (Max Planck Institute for Art History)

–   Moderation: Anna Grasskamp (Hong Kong Baptist University)

Organising Committee

  • Anna Grasskamp (Hong Kong Baptist University, Academy of Visual Arts)
  • John Johnston (Hong Kong Baptist University, Academy of Visual Arts)
  • Anne Gerritsen (University of Warwick & Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society)

Programme Committee

  • Anna Grasskamp (Hong Kong Baptist University, Academy of Visual Arts)
  • John Johnston (Hong Kong Baptist University, Academy of Visual Arts)
  • Anne Gerritsen (University of Warwick & Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society)
  • Sharon Wai-yee Wong (Chinese University of Hong Kong)
  • Borbala Nyiri (independent scholar)