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Emperor Qianlong's Hidden TreasuresReconsidering the Collection of the Qing Imperial Household$
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Nicole T. C. Chiang

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888528059

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888528059.001.0001

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Creating the Collection as an Institutional Activity

Creating the Collection as an Institutional Activity

(p.46) 2 Creating the Collection as an Institutional Activity
Emperor Qianlong's Hidden Treasures

Nicole T. C. Chiang

Hong Kong University Press

The chapter focuses on the institutional and processual aspects of the collection and highlights practices associated with this particular collection such as assessing, identifying, inscribing, ranking, cataloguing, labelling and storing of objects. These actions constituted part of the institutional scheme of managing the objects retained at the Qing imperial household. Through the process of selection, which was a collective effort of various specialists, collectibles were separated from other objects and boundaries for determining what could enter the collection were drawn. Rather than being personally engaged with individual objects, the emperor was more concerned with how the collection as a whole was managed, preserved and interpreted. In addition, the selecting and assembling process is the act of forming a collection. Ranking, cataloguing, labelling and storing of objects are not merely activities of organising and documenting a pre-existing collection but an on-going process of creating the collection.

Keywords:   Imperial Household Department, Connoisseurship, Cataloguing, Ranking, Inscription

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