François Louis - Assistant Professor, The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture
With the foundation of the Liao state in the early tenth century, the Kitan became one of the major political forces in East Asia. While we have virtually no material record of the pre-dynastic Kitan, the new Liao aristocracy, right from the beginning, has left an impressive amount of the most sophisticated material relics, many of which were made by Chinese craftsmen and look Chinese. But recent discoveries also include ritual paraphernalia of a distinct Liao style. This lecture looks at some of the most striking of these latter artifacts, golden crowns, and discusses their design in relation to Kitan concerns about suzerainty and elite status, as well as national and ethnic identity.