Ning Yao


Dr Ning Yao
Research Associate
Institut für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte
Humboldt Universität
Georgenstraße 47
10117 Berlin

Research project

Incense burner in the shape of a temple
Place of Origin: China, Date: 1900-1949, Materials: Nephrite, Dimensions: H. 14 3/4 in x Diam. 6 3/4 in, H. 37.5 cm x Diam. 17.2 cm
Transfer from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Bequest of Isabella M. Cowell, Department: Chinese Art
Collection: Jade And Stones, Object Number: B68J3.a-.c

Reconfiguring the Incense Burner

This project examines the creation, transmission and appropriation of incense burners caught up in cross-cultural encounters from Han (206 BCE-220) to early Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The geographical focus will be on China and regions such as Japan, Korea, Istanbul in the Ottoman Empire, Meissen in Germany. It advances new ways to think about the interactions between the concepts of politics, ritual, and thingness.


Ning Yao received her doctorate in East Asian Art History from Heidelberg University in 2013. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Connecting Art Histories in the Museum, a joint project between the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (2016-2018). She has completed postdoctoral research at the Internationales Kolleg für Geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung at Erlangen-Nürnberg University where she also taught Chinese art history (2013-2014). She was an associate lecturer for Chinese art history at Goethe University (2015-2016) and Chinese language lecturer at Beijing Foreign Studies University, Charles University in Prague, Tübingen University and Goethe University (1994-2008).She obtained her first BA in German Studies, second BA in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language in China, and an MA in Sinology and Art History from Tübingen University. She has been awarded the Museum Network Fellowship from National Museum of Korea, Graduate Student Best Paper prize from the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), the Heinz-Götze scholarship, and the translation grant (together with García-Noblejas) from the European Research Councilin “Casa del Traductor” in Tarazona in Spain.

Publications (selection)

“Art and Rulership: The Plum Screen Version of Emperor Qianlong’s (r. 1736–1795) Portrait One or Two”, In: Head and Body: Evidence of Power in the Ruler Portrait Between the 14thand 18thCenturies. Conference publication. Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, München (forthcoming). 

“Reshaping Portraiture: The Emergence of Chinese Literati Portraiture”. In: Faces of China. Portrait Painting of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1912). Klaas Ruitenbeek (ed.). Berlin: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2017, pp. 35-46.

Review to the International Workshop “The Jesuit Legacies”. In: International Sinology (國際漢學), 2017/03. pp. 172-174.

“The Fact of Matter: William Forsythe”. In: The Art World (藝術世界), 2015/12, pp. 110-111.

“On the Road: Doug Aitken”. In: The Art World (藝術世界), 2015/09, pp. 130-131.

“Truth and Image: The Art of the German Director and Photographer Wim Wenders”. In: The Art World (藝術世界), 2015/08, pp. 135-144.

“Art Cologne, 2015: The Oldest but not the Old-fashioned”. In: The Art World (藝術世界), 2015/06, pp. 48-50. 

“Meanings and Functions of the Painting Fungus Growing at the Cenwei Residence:  Wu Li (1632-1718) and His Intellectual World”. In: Shifting Paradigms in East Asian Visual Culture: A Festschrift in Honour of Lothar Ledderose.Burglind Jungmann, Adele Schlombs and Melanie Trede (eds.). Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 2012, pp. 271-297.

“The Painting A Tranquil Autumn Morningby Wu Li and the Controversy of Western Influence on his Painting”. In: Art Research 美術研究, 2007/01, pp. 62-68.

“The Other ‘Landscape’”.In: 21st-Century, 2004/08, pp. 122-130.

“Present Situation and Brief History of Sinology in the Czech Republic”. In: InternationalSinology (國際漢學), 2000/06, pp. 435-448. 

Chinese Proverb Dictionary(通用諺語詞典), Shi Baoyi (ed.). Co-writer, Wuhan: Hubei renmin chubanshe, 2000. 

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