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Yusen Yu wins MEM Graduate Student Prize

Yusen Yu wins the prestigious Graduate Student Prize of the Middle East Medievalists (MEM) with his article "Chinese Gold-decorated Paper and the Persianate Book Arts". The paper was presented at the Timurid conference in Leiden in May 2016.

Chinese Gold-decorated Paper and the Persianate Book Arts

How the “foreign” was perceived, adopted and transformed in the Timurid visual culture? Yusen Yu's paper discusses the Timurid reception of Chinese gold-decorated paper, another commodity circulated on the so-called “silk” road in pre-modern era, as a case study, seeking to shed some new insights unto the above overarching question. As esteemed gifts of diplomacy, the Chinese gold-decorated paper in the Timurid court collection mirrors the exchange between the Timurids and Ming China (1368-1644) in the post-Mongol era. These papers, sprinkled, flecked or painted in lavish gold, were phenomenally used as writing grounds for manuscripts, in most cases the contents of which are theological or mystical. Based on a codicological survey, the paper offers some preliminary observations on the interconnected relationship between Chinese gold-decorated paper and the aesthetic formation of manuscript decoration in the 15th-century Central Asia and Iran. As widely acknowledged, the Islamic generous use of gold in the book art dates back to its immediate rise, thus, how to situate these newly-accessed shining Chinese materials into the existing Timurid aesthetic, semantic and even economic system constitutes the main concern of Yusen's research.

The paper was presented at the Timurid conference in Leiden in May 2016.

Yusen Yu

YU Yusen is a LIAS visiting scholar at Leiden University from 1 October 2016 until 30 September 2017. He has been a doctoral candidate at Heidelberg University, Germany since 2014. His PhD dissertation discusses the Persianate reception of Chinese arts in the Timurid/Turkmen periods (late 14-15th centuries). Yusen obtained his BA in History from Sun Yat-Sen University in China, and subsequently his MA in Islamic art history at SOAS, London. In 2013 and 2014, he studied Persian history at the University of Tehran, Iran. His areas of interest span the fields of Islamic and Chinese studies, including history and culture of Islamicate Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan and India; Chinese art, particularly its reception at and beyond the borders of China; Sino-Islamic encounter and the Silk Road.

MEM Graduate Student Prize

Each year the Board of Directors of the Middle East Medievalists (MEM) offers a prize for the best graduate student paper on a medieval topic at the annual Middle East Studies Association meeting. The winner is announced at the annual business meeting of MEM, held in conjunction with MESA.

Middle East Medievalists (MEM)

Middle East Medievalists (MEM) is an international professional non-profit association of scholars interested in the study of the Islamic lands of the Middle East during the medieval period (defined roughly as 500-1500 C.E.). MEM officially came into existence on 15 November 1989 at its first annual meeting, held in Toronto. MEM is a non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Illinois; contributions to MEM are considered exempt from federal income tax by the United States Internal Revenue Service.

MEM has two primary goals. The first is to increase the representation of medieval scholarship at scholarly meetings in North America and elsewhere by co-sponsoring panels. The other principal objective of MEM is to foster communication among individuals and organizations with an interest in the study of the medieval Middle East. MEM also hopes, in the future, to advance the study of the medieval Middle East by undertaking such projects as scholar exchanges, conferences, etc.