Chinese heritage

Explore curated collections and engaging stories about Chinese customs, tradition, culture and history

Exhibition: China in Perspective

a black and white double exposure photograph of the same entrance to a Chinese temple complex, pillars and archways superposed over each other in an artistic impression

Chinese culture and history through European heritage collections

a sloped stone wall filled with painted stone sculptures in vivid colours, depicting myths and legends of China.

While exploring Chinese works of art, it is definitely true that there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Silk flag with five-clawed imperial dragon on a yellow background with a red sun in the top left

The Chinese symbolic language goes far beyond the boundaries of the physical world.

a yellow, black and white wide robe laid out flat, embroidered with storks and dragons and with very wide sleeves.

China has been known as a nation of creativity, invention, skill and innovation for centuries.


Gouache depicting a garden with large pond, rocks, pavilions and flower pots, late Qing dynasty
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Traditional Chinese garden design connects the realm of the physical with that of the ideal.

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Read about this story of mutual discovery in Part 1 of 'Jesuits in China'

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Learn about the events that would lead the Jesuits to be banned from China for almost 100 years.

colour painting depicting a woman reading at a table, while two children and a servant are talking
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Summer reading tips inspired by the land of the dragon

black and white photograph portrait of actor Anna May Wong
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Exploring the stereotypical way Chinese women have been portrayed in Western media

crop of a painting showing three Chinese figures, two are in dark blue clothing, a woman (in the middle) wears pink and green clothing
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Produced by Chinese craftsmen, these paintings were souvenirs that symbolised global trade

a hand fan on a white background. The fan displays intricate drawings of Chinese life
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When China was "à la mode" in the West

black and white photograph, showing a woman seated on a throne-like chair surrounded by male attendants
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The Empress Dowager Cixi ruled China in the latter half of the 19th century, the last woman to rule China

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This native of China is believed to be the most faithful bird species in the world

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These iconic ships have long been one of the defining symbols of Chinese naval warfare, travel and trade.

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Learn about all about Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations.


a heavy golden earring set with multicoloured stones

Chinese jewelry can be immensely intricate and richly decorated.

a small golden statuette of a sitting Guanyin, one arm raised to the shoulder and another resting on her knee.

One of the most popular Buddhist figures, Guanyin stands for mercy and compassion.

the head of a multicoloured chinese dragon, to be worn as part of a costume for dragon dances

In Chinese mythology, the dragon is not a force of evil but a beneficent creature, inhabiting the skies and the seas.

ornate open shoes with high sled heels decorated with Chinese dragon patterns

This gallery explores how motifs and objects from China took over the West and elegantly influenced its tastes

a four-lobed fabric collar with intricate colours and patterns

The cloud collar is a Chinese four- or eight-lobed ornamental piece of fabric boasting an intricate pattern.

The beautifully pleated Chinese parasol serves multiple purposes: as sunblock, dance prop, or good luck charm.

illustration of a number of Chinese junks on the sea

Prepare for a voyage of discovery and sail into this gallery of Chinese junks


We sliced up some of China’s most popular fruits into this colourful gallery.


Did you know that China produces almost a third of the world’s rice?


Mandarins were important public officials & bureaucrats, playing a vital role in the country's imperial history.


The idea of opposite forces complementing each other is at the core of many belief systems.

This gallery takes a sip from the rich history of tea cultivation.

Browse collections

Browse collections relating to China from cultural heritage institutions across Europe

These pictures, including studio portraits as well as snapshots of people and sights, are remnants of life in Hunan

Juho Toivo Koskikallio, a Finnish missionary and sinologist, was active in China in the 1st half of the 20th century.

Skillfully shaped, colored and decorated earthenware offer a glimpse into the collections of the Benaki Museum

These statues and objects portray deities, humans and animals with a plethora of imaginative decorations.

These magnificently imagined and elaborately decorated pieces of porcelain are functional and artful at once.

Two albums containing gouache on paper illustrations of professions observed in China, from Museums Wereldculturen.

A couple of German entrepeneurs travelled to China in 1965, portraying the country in atmospheric holiday photographs

a small stone statuette of a horse with a rider

Centuries-old figurines and miniatures from burial gifts preserved at Stichting Wereldculturen

a gouache painting of a fish in muted browns and grays

Chinese water animals, from crabs to mythical creatures, in 18th-century gouaches

a line of Chinese workers carry heavy burdens on their shoulders

Industrial labor and agricultural work in powerful black-and-white photographs by Wolfgang Schröter

the side of a lush green hill ends in the sea, with a collection of cobbled-together wooden houses on poles stand in the water, forming jetties. A Chinese flat-bottom boat drifts into view from the right.

Hong Kong in the 1960s, through the lens of Hanna Seidel

a coloured glass slide depicting an ornate Chinese temple complex with a multitude of awnings, windows, and curved roofs slanting to a point.

China in coloured glass slides, collected by Carl Simon

an engraving of a Chinese person sitting at a desk and painting. Other paintings hang on the wall.

Engravings from the book 'Viaggio in Cina' by John Thompson and T. Choutzé

These souvenir pictures from the 19th Century depict scenes from daily life, architectural features and people of China

Born in Helsinki, Osvald Sirén (1879-1966) was to become one of Sweden’s most eminent art historians.

Photography pioneer John Thomson (1837–1921) was one of the first to document his exploration of Asia in photographs

a heavily oxidised copper grave mask in the shape of a scrunched-up human face.

Ernest Erickson (°1893, Finland) donated part of his Chinese artefact collection to the Östasiatiska museet.

A child is wearing a straw bowl hat and is looking into the lens, half-smiling.

A breathtaking series of images selected German photographer’s Wolfgang Schröter’s 50,000-piece legacy

A person lies down in the sand in the middle of a tent outpost, trying to get a radio transmitter working.

Swedish explorer and archaeologist Folke Bergman participated in Sven Hedin's Sino-Swedish Expedition in the 1930s

A painted woodcut depicting Chinese farmers feeding colourful chickens on a green background

These 'peasant paintings' by Huxian farmers in the 1950s are vibrant tableaux depicting daily life and festive occasions

A Chinese political poster in vibrant red colours, depicting a man raising his arms to the sky

Colourful graphic styles applied to socio-political messages, from the Etnografiska museet in Stockholm, Sweden

a child stands in Chinese Imperial clothing in front of a paper room divider decorated with cranes

This set of Carl Simon's glass slides from the collection of United Archives was used for a presentation on China

A portrait picture of an old man wearing a broad-rimmed woven straw hat, with long white mustache and beard, wrinkled and creased features.

Browse through all objects related to China in Europe's cultural heritage collections.