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Yale University Digital Collections
Click Here for Other Digital Image East Asian Resources
The Visual Resources Collection (VRC) is a digital library of over 265,000 images of global art and architecture, including over 25,000 images related to East Asian visual and material culture. The VRC's East Asian Collection historically reflects the teaching and research interests of Yale faculty since the late 1930s to the present. Another virtual collection is the Yale Silk Road Database. Search within this collection or use the All radio button to include material from the VRC.
The VRC’s East Asian Collection can be browsed geographically, by country (“China”, “Japan”, “India”, “Indonesia” etc.), by province/prefecture/state (“Kanagawa”, “Sichuan”, “Uttar Pradesh” etc.), by city or site name (“Kyōtō”, “Beijing”, “Varanasi”, “Dunhuang” etc. ), or by period (“Tang”, “Ming”, “Kamakura”, “Muromachi” etc.), by object classification (“Architecture”, “Sculpture”, “Painting”), and by object type (“shrine”, “temple”, “stupa”, “pagoda” etc.). Whenever possible, different versions of geographic names (e.g. “Varanasi” or “Benares”) and Buddhist terms (e.g. “Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara” or “Kannon bosatsu”) have been included in the cataloging record to facilitate your search.
Search the Beinecke’s collection of over 250,000 images via its digital images page or via Orbis for specific works. Examples include:
Search the Gallery's image database for over 5,000 objects from the Gallery's Asian Art collection.
ARTstor, an initiative of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is a subscription-based digital image resource with more than 750,000 images in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities, and social sciences. The ARTstor Web site offers a variety of features useful for teaching support. In addition to content provided by ARTstor, the Yale Visual Resources Collection is also accessible through the ARTstor interface. The combined collections total more than 1,000,000 images.
Recommended collections related to East Asian studies include:
This database provides detailed description and more than 7,500 digital images of photographs and films held in the archives of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia and the Lingnan University Board of Trustees, which are held at the Yale Divinity Library. The database is an important resource for the study of education, medical work, architecture, and society in China during the first half of the twentieth century. Contact: Martha Smalley, Special Collections Librarian, Yale Divinity Library.
Panoramic views of sites selected from among the World Heritage list and the World Monuments Watch Fund list among others. Includes sites throughout Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, as well as China and Korea.
Over 14,000 images of Asian historical architecture from 732 sites in 20 countries.
Collection of travel and research photographs taken by plant explorers working in East Asia in the early 20th century. Scenes of daily life, plants, landscapes, and architecture.
10,000 images of buildings and cities around the world. Includes approximately 2,000 photographs contributed by Daniel C. Waugh, Professor of History at the University of Washington and director of Silk Road Seattle.
The John C. and Susan L. Huntington Photographic Archive of Buddhist and Asian Art contains nearly 300,000 original slides and photographs – photographic documentation of art and architecture throughout Asia. Countries covered in the collection include India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma), China, and Japan. The documentation covers in situ works of art and architecture ranging from approximately 2500 B.C.E. to the present, as well as pieces found in most major Asian, European, and American museums.
In the IMPA project, the Yale Divinity Library is partnering with five other archival repositories in Europe and North America to develop an online database of missionary photographs taken between 1850 and World War II. The database currently contains more than 10,000 images, of which nearly 3,000 have been contributed by the Divinity Library. This database is an important scholarly resource for missions historians, art historians, scholars of religion, historical sociologists, visual anthropologists, area specialists, and geographers. Contact: Martha Smalley, Special Collections Librarian, Yale Divinity Library.
Asia and the Pacific Rim in Early Prints and Photographs
Over 1,000 images of historic prints and photographs digitized from the NYPL’s rare book collections depicting people and scenes of daily life, landscapes and architecture, dating from the 18th to early 20th centuries. Browsable by collection or subject terms.
Notable items that have been digitized include:
Gateway to museum sites, specifically online exhibitions, according to subject area or topic, time period, country/region, and religion.
Journal devoted to the discussion of contemporary and historical photography from Asia; this link brings you to the journal's image resources page.
Searchable database of over 1,351 images, founded by the Asia-Europe Museum Network from the contributions of over sixty museums throughout Europe, and East and Southeast Asia.
Database of Chinese handscroll paintings held in the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art and East Asian Library at the University of Chicago as well as the Institute of Fine Arts (Chicago), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Saint Louis Art Museum. Users are able to continuously view entire works with curatorial comments and translations of inscriptions and colophons.
Site devoted to the study of the Xiangtangshan Caves (Hebei Province) and the historical and artistic artifacts of the Northern Qi dynasty (550-577). Includes a database of Xiangtangshan sculptures in collections outside of China with zoom functionality and 3D digital models. The project will eventually also present 3D digital models of the caves and sculptures at the Southern Xiangtangshan site, with present-day and reconstructed views.
Collection of Nationalist and Communist political documents from Hong Kong and Mainland China (ca. 1947-1954) that comprises of digitized posters, pamphlets, postcards etc., from the collection of Edward Hunter (1902-1978). Searchable by keyword, or browsable by subject (e.g. World politics--1945-1955; Songs, Chinese), or by series (e.g. Mass Education materials, 1949-1952. Anti-Imperialism). Database hosted by the Center for Research Libraries.
Image database created by the Chinese Museum (Melbourne) and La Trobe University with contributions from other institutions as well as private collections. Browsable via collection or repository, people, and subject terms organized according to the following categories: Concepts, Corporate Bodies, Events, Families, Places, Occupations.
Image database devoted to photographs (as well as text and maps) of ethnic groups in southwestern China.
Collection of over 300 photographs and postcards from the Japanese Colonial period in Taiwan, collected by Gerald Warner, US Consul to Taiwan from 1937 to early 1941. Keyword searchable and browsable via subject headings (e.g. Geography, Food, Agriculture, Clothing, Architecture, Labor, Travel and Transportation, Arts, Spectacles, Community, Administrative Agencies, Religious Practices, Education).
Collection of 5,000 photographs taken by the German photographer Hedda Morrison from 1933-1946. Topics include landscapes, architecture, trade, scenes of daily life and religious life.
Postcards from late imperial and early Republican China.
Image database of 4,901 historic photographs depicting political and social life, trade and business, scenes of daily life, landscapes, public events, and architecture, taken from the late 19th century up to and including the Republican period. In addition to unspecified missionary collections, the database contains the collections of the following individuals: diplomat Fu Bingchang (b. 1895-d. 1965); commissioner for the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, R.F.C. Hedgeland (b. 1874); Director of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Shanghai Municipal Police, William Armstrong (b. 1867- d. 1931); merchant and businessman, and partner in the China merchant firm of John Swire & Sons Ltd, G. Warren Swire (b. 1883-1949); tea broker, J.C. Oswald collection. Created by the University of Bristol, University of Lincoln, and the Institut d’Asie Orientale with contributions from other institutions and private archives.
Collection of pamphlets relating to the Chinese civil war and the Sino-Japanese war, published in the 1930s and 1940s by the China Defense League (Hong Kong and Chongqing) and the Workers Library (New York), Chinese Vanguard Publishing Company (New York) among others. Whole pamphlets may be downloaded and searched in PDF format.
This site contains many primary resources that are useful for research on history of Taiwan, such as photographs during the 19th century, postcards and class books during the Japanese occupation period, liberty lottery tickets, etc.
Site includes databases for the following:
Collection of historical and cultural artifacts, including paintings, sculpture, ceramics, bronzes, jade, and textiles, digitized by the National Museum of History, Taipei.
1,000 images of historical photographs and print material from the collection of Rev. Claude L. Pickens, Jr., depicting the life of Muslims and Christian missionaries in Western China in the 1920s and 1930s. Includes scenes of daily life, portraits, religious and secular architecture.
Approximately 200 images from the collection of Robert Henry Chandless, an American employee of the British import-export firm of Pool Lander. Views of the Boxer Rebellion, as well as images depicting daily and social life, major architectural sites and other scenes in Beijing and Tianjin in the early 1900s. The album may be searched or browsed by subject.
Photographs from the collection of sociologist Sidney D. Gamble. Currently featuring photographs taken during socio-economic surveys conducted in China dating from 1917-1932. Photographs depict urban and rural life, events, architecture and religious sites. Photographs taken in Korea and Japan are also included.
Expedition photographs of plant and bird specimens, landscapes, and people of the Hengduan Mountain region which includes western Sichuan and eastern Tibet (Xizang), Expeditions conducted in 1924-1927, 1997, 1998, and 2000.
Online archive of historical photographs and personal photography of Thomas H. Hahn, Ph.D. Example collections include: Images from the Cultural Revolution, Manchurian (Pneumonic) Plague of 1910-11, Early Photographs of Daoist Sites and Practices, (Sacred) Mountains and Sites in China.
Collection of photographs, 3-D animations, and videos. Includes photographs and drawings from the collection of Liang Sicheng.
Historical photographs of Shanghai and other cities in China (including Beijing and Tianjin) before 1949. Includes texts and maps. Browsable via albums organized according to the following subjects: cityscape, official institutions, culture, religion, education, health and sports, economy, civic organizations, people and everyday life, and war.
Database of 6,000 images taken in the second half of the nineteenth century. Searchable by photographer, location, or keyword (categories for keyword include: View, Architecture, Urban facilities, Traffic, Person, Religious Faith, Work, Manners and Customs).
Brown University Library, Center for Digital Initiatives
Images from the John Hay Library of an anonymous Japanese scroll depicting Perry’s arrival in Japan; lithographs by William Heine, official artist of the Perry expedition, and published in 1855; and images published in Japanese broadsides.
Images documenting the aftermath of the Great Kantō Earthquake taken by the American traveler, William Dana Reynolds and others. Collection includes photographs taken in Yokohama, Kyōtō, Shanghai and Hawaii, as well as letters, newspaper clippings, and other family mementoes.
Cultural Heritage Online is a portal site created by the Agency for Cultural Affairs that allows users to view images and associated data of art works from museum and temple collections across Japan, in addition to architectural sites, material folk culture, traditional performing arts, historical documents, major scenic sites and protected environments, historical monuments, and images documenting the work of Living National Treasures. Users can extensively browse the collections by historical period, classification or field, geographical region, and official cultural designation. Alternatively, users may perform keyword or advanced searches that also include the title of the work, repository name, and artist name. Related images can be found by checking the box to the left top hand side of an image; and suggested keywords (appearing below the last row of images on any particular page) can again assist users navigate groups of related images. Currently, the site is only available in Japanese.
This site is dedicated to showcasing the National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties from the National Museums in Tōkyō, Nara, and Kyōto. Images can be found by browsing galleries organized according to the following categories: Japanese Painting, 11th-13th centuries; Japanese Painting, 15th-19th centuries; Chinese Painting, Song and Yuan Dynasties; Swords and Blades; Others (which includes lacquer ware, metalwork, and ceramics); Buddhist Sutras and Chinese Classics, Japanese Classics and Historical Documents; Japanese and Chinese Calligraphy; Textiles. Clicking on individual images will allow you to zoom in on selected areas. Alternatively, for images of scrolls, clicking on the Image Browser label located at the bottom of the image will enable you to see every section of the scroll and zoom in to view details.
Collection of photographs of Shōsōin artifacts searchable by keyword, type, and repository location.
Database of official documents from the Japanese Cabinet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Army and Navy, dating from the Meiji period to 1945. The site also includes the following exhibitions: US-Japan War Talks, Iwakura Mission, Russo-Japanese War.
Over 1,100 maps of Japan and the World from the Mitsui collection at the East Asian Library at the University of California, Berkley; digitized by David Rumsey and Cartography Associates. Maps date from 1600 to 1913. Browsable by map type, geography, date, and cartographer.
Collection of film stills, production stills, publicity photographs, personal portraits and snapshots, photographs from film festivals, magazine articles, personal notes and scripts of film director Kurosawa Akira (1910-1998).
Subjects include language, Japanese history and geography, Oriental history and geography, Western history and geography/ World maps, geology/mineral and marine products, paleontology/ science and technology/ medicine, botanical wall charts.
Collection (subjects include wallcharts imported during the first half of the Meiji period, language, Japanese history and geography, geology/mineral products, chemistry, biology/agronomy.
Includes manuscripts, historic photographs, and paintings.
Database of images published in Mainichi Daily newspaper from Meiji period on.
Database of Nara Ehon (short illustrated manuscripts dating from the Muromachi to Edo periods) searchable by keyword, period, format, document type, type of cover, and theme.
Database of historical manuscripts, drawings, photographs and maps from the Tokugawa period on, including wartime posters.
The NDL Online Gallery features a growing number of exhibitions that showcase textual and image resources related to particular themes.
The Digital Gallery for this collection is organized according to the following categories: 1. Carrying on the Classics, 2. Intellectual Exchange, 3. Variety of Ehon Books. Alternatively, you may search the NDL’s Rare Books Image Database
Searchable by keyword, and map, as well as categories that include: government (municipal) office, imperial court, economy and industry, temples and shrines, education, culture and entertainment, army and navy, transportation.
Photographs and documents related to modern Japanese political history.
Browsable via the following broad categories: Scenic Mementos of Japan (Nature and Outdoor Social Scenes, Amusements, Work and Working People, Festivals, People and their appearance), Vienna International Exposition, Modern Japanese Political History Materials (by historical period, from Meiji Restoration on).
Examples of image databases created from rare book collections at the Nichibunkan Library:
Images of manuscripts and prints related to the history of medicine from the personal collection of medical historian Sōda Hajime (1921-1996). 1,104 images.
Browsable by name, prefecture, historical period, and type.
Image database of posters and handbills related to Japanese labor and social movements in the pre and post-1945 periods organized according to the following exhibitions:
Database of photographs, film, text, and sound, from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Includes survivor video testimony, material objects, photographs browsable by map or keyword, paintings by survivors, artworks (paintings, sculpture, calligraphy) related to the atomic bomb.
The Virtual Museum of Traditional Japanese Arts is produced for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Kodansha International Ltd., which is responsible for the contents of the site.
Site founded by Professors John W. Dower and Shigeru Miyagawa, with contributions from other scholars (Peter C. Perdue, Allen Hockley, Gennifer Weisenfeld) as well as other institutions including the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Peabody Essex Museum, Ryōsenji Treasure Museum, Shiseidō Corporation, Smith College Museum of Art, and others. Essays, visual narratives, and image databases are organized according to the following units. *Units on China are in development.
Historic photographs, manuscripts, and prints etc. showcased via thematic galleries and special exhibitions shown below. Site also features keyword, advanced search, and timeline browsability.
Comprehensive database of architectural and cultural sites, relics, documentary heritage (manuscripts, prints, books, etc.), intangible heritage (ceremonies, craft, food) and natural heritage. Database searchable by cultural heritage designation, geography, period, and key terms within genres.
Image database for artifacts (photographs, prints, manuscripts, paintings) held in British, Chinese, Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Swedish collections. Collaborating institutions include: British Museum; British Library; Victoria and Albert Museum; Chester Beatty Library; National Library of China; Dunhuang Academy; Academia Sinica; Institute of Oriental Studies, St. Petersburg; National Museum of India, New Delhi; Ryukoku University, Kyōto; State Library, Berlin; Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities; Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris; Musée Guimet, Paris; National Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm; Sven Hedin Foundation, Stockholm; Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC; University of California at Los Angeles; Princeton University (Gest Library and Art Museum); Morgan Library, New York.
Features historical maps, photographs, expedition records, and historical records from over 100 rare books digitized in their entirety. Authors include, among others, M. A. Stein, P. Pelliot, S. Hedin, and A. von Le Coq.
Images and text accessible via the following topic pages: museum collections of silk road art, cities and architecture, traditional culture, maps, geography, and historical texts.
Image database of 6,000 photographs of Tibet (taken ca.1920-1950) from the collections of the British Museum and Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University. Includes maps, and has advanced zoom and album functionality.
Founded and supported by the University of Virginia Library and the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia. Contributors include an international group of scholars and universities, as well as private organizations. Includes an image database of 35,000 images, as well as interactive maps and audio/video.
The following is not intended to be a comprehensive list of links to museums with collections of Japanese, Chinese, and/or Korean art; rather, it presents links specifically to museums with searchable collection databases or good quality, browsable collection interfaces.
Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture (Hanford, CA) (formerly the Ruth and Sherman Lee Institute for Japanese Art at the Clark Center)
People’s Republic of China
Republic of China (Taiwan)
University Art Museum, Tōkyō University of the Arts (formerly Tōkyō National University of Fine Arts and Music)
Date: 910, Excavated Qian Fo Dong, Ch.liv.006 (from bundle Ch.liv at Cave 17 at Ch’ien Fo Tung (pinyin: Qian Fo Dong)). Collected by Sir Marc Aurel Stein. British Museum, 1919,0101,0.14. [www.britishmuseum.org]
Chambers, William, Sir, 1723-1796.
Designs of Chinese buildings, furniture, dresses, machines, and utensils. Engraved by the best hands from the originals drawn in China by Mr. Chambers, to which is annexed a description of their temples, houses, gardens, &c.
London : Published for the author [etc.], 1757.
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University
Woman in winter dress
Beato, Felice, b. ca. 1825; hand-colored albumen print
New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building / Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs; Image ID: 118926, [www.nypl.org]
Sho Doring Inscription Pillar with Potala Palace in background, ca. 1920-1921
Tibet Album: Collection of Sir Charles Bell; Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, BL.H.57
White porcelain jar with grape design in underglaze iron
Joseon Dynasty. National Treasure 107; Ewha Woman's University, 1962.12.20 [www.cha.go.kr]
Square Fragment: Showing Buddhist Procession
Early 6th century, Northern Wei dynasty, Sandstone, H: 41.2 W: 45.1 D: 14.3 cm. Freer Gallery of Art, F1913.72 [www.asia.si.edu]