The study focuses on the methodology of research on recycled clothing. Two Chinese Dragon Robes from the collection of the Náprstek Museum were remade as a men’s jacket and a woman’s evening dress. Both examples are described, analysed and interpreted from two points of view: as authentic Dragon Robes in its original Imperial China setting, as well as newly made clothes in the context of the early 20th century Western culture.
Spectacles from China appear in many museum collections, and they are popular collectibles in private collections. The collection of ten spectacles and their cases in the Náprstek Museum in Prague shows its technological and material development from the pince-nez type in the second half of the 19th century to early 20th century tortoiseshell and plastic spectacles. As signs of learning, these different types of spectacles and their cases show their social context and meaning in Chinese society during the transition period from the traditional to the modern era.
Dragon robes were worn by scholar – officials who were members of bureacracy of the Qing dynasty in China (1644–1911). The cut and design of the robes were uniform, but the embellishment and motifs including religious symbols were individual and personal. Dragon robes as a garment with high homogeneity and visibility is compared to the “organisational dress” worn by members of contemporary Western organisations. The meaning of both garments is found to be similar, especially as they convey social roles within the organisation and society.
The Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures acquired two hundred items from Tibet in the 1950s: bronze sculptures, paintings and ritual implements. These items came from private collections confiscated after the Second War World according to the presidential decrees dealing with the post-war state reconstruction. Although the administration of the confiscated properties was meticulous, the transfer of items to the Náprstek Museum interrupted the history of ownership and meant the loss of the historical knowledge of its origin. As the result, the Tibet collection in the Náprstek Museum reveals more about the political and social history of post-war Czechoslovakia than about the perception of Tibetan culture in Czechoslovakia during the first half of the 20th century.
The study based on the preparation of Příběh Tibetu [The Story of Tibet] exhibition in the Náprstek Museum focuses on the de-contextualisation of Tibetan Buddhism objects in the museum setting. It deals with the stages of the decontextualisation process from the removing of the original material environment and social context to creation of new meanings in the museum. Namely it discusses aestheticisation and its relation to the art-gallery style exhibition.
Court beads worn with formal dress represented one of the symbols of social standing of the Qing dynasty aristocracy and officialdom. The appearance of court beads and material used for their production were prescribed in the 18th century encyclopaedic work The Illustrated Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Imperial Court. Nowadays, court beads are found in antiquities markets and in museum collections. The Náprstek Museum in Prague also keeps a small collection distinguished from the several tens of pieces of Qing dynasty formal dress, dress accessories, and other signs of social rank, the number of these items are surprisingly few. In order to answer the question about the scarcity of the objects, the origin of the collection has been studied.
The first part of the study is devoted to the history of scholarly description of the Tibetan and Mongolian Collection in the Naprstek Museum, namely to the work of Lumir Jisl (1921-1969). The second part focuses on the iconography of Tantric couples on small votive Buddhist paintings from Mongolia.
The Czech traveller and photographer Enrique Stanko Vráz (1860–1932) spent three spring months in China during the Boxer Uprising in 1901. He was amongst the first travellers – photo-reporters. He preferred realistic photographs as the best proof of capturing the world around him. In Beijing, he took several hundred photographs including the Manchu aristocratic families. Among them, he photographed Prince Su (1866–1922), an important late Qing statesman, and his family. The study discusses Prince Su’s family photographs in relations to Vráz’s notes and travel books.