Sub Navigation

Print this Page. Send this Page.

MC4.1 Objects

En-Framing Objects in Cultural Exchange Processes between Japan, Europe, and China

Coordination: Melanie Trede


This subproject analysed and conceptualised the processual aspect of integrating an unfamiliar material object into new display or artistic practices by discarding, adding, or changing frames. Next to these material frames which visually and haptically inform the viewer of the work's meaning, frames of other guises were employed as well.

The discursive frame was used to demonstrate the mutual assessments of perspectival renderings in paintings of the early-modern period in China and Japan on the one hand and in Europe on the other. Another path of investigating the discursive frame was in the guise of colophons in Japanese handscrolls narrating in script and paintings devotional legends. Unpublished scrolls of the fifteenth century were transcribed and analysed for the first time. Unexpectedly, the colophons were hardly stereotype, as was often assumed, but expressed rather individual wishes and aims associated with the donation of the scrolls. Additionally, the colophons seem to have been a crucial ingredient in rendering the scrolls accessible to an audience unacquainted with its contents and convincing the readers of its powerful efficacy. Colophons here are not transcultural in the sense of a mediating medium in East-Asian exchanges with Europe or vice versa. But these pivotal texts serve, in a sense, to negotiate between the material (handscroll) and the audience, which the author of the colophon guides in her understanding of what she was to think of the material. Colophons have been interpreted as framing devices not only by Gèrard Genette in his famous concepts of the paratext or peritext, but they are the subject of study in our partner project MC4.3, “Paratexts in Late Imperial Chinese Book Culture”.

The spatial frame is another important concept, which informs the necessity to adapt unfamiliar artefacts and appropriate them into a spatial environment that the owner (or agent) has culturally adapted to. This phenomenon was researched and published by project members including the framing of art and material culture from Asia throughout semi-private spaces and museums in the Netherlands; the role of metal mounts as ‘frames’ in different kinds of Sino-European artefacts; the frameworks of early modern Kunstkammer display; and the transformation of painted and printed frames in Dutch world maps in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Japanese art and visual culture.

Contributions by Prof. Dr. Melanie Trede:

Conferences and Panels 

31 July - 1 August, 2016

Conference: Frames and Framings in a Transdisciplinary Perspective Ⅱ: 'Creating Worlds' in Classical Knowledge Systems, Gakushuin University, Tokyo

29 February - 2 March, 2016
"Materialities of the Sacred in Japan and Europe: Buddhism, Shinto, Christianity" Co-organizer with Anna Andreeva, ABE Yasuro, joint conference, Heidelberg and Nagoya Universities, Cluster of Excellence, Heidelberg University

31 October – 2 November, 2014
“Transcultural Framing(s): Materials and Metaphors” 
co-organized by MC04, international conference, Cluster of Excellence, Heidelberg University

9 October, 2014
“Mediating Art, Exhibitions and Art Criticism in Times of Crises: Japan, China and Europe in the Mid Twentieth Century,” panel organizer and chair, Annual Conference, Cluster of Excellence: “Cultural Mediation: Creativity, Display, Performance,“ Heidelberg University

8 - 10 October, 2014
“Cultural Mediation: Creativity, Display, Performance", Co-organizer, Annual Conference, Cluster of Excellence, Heidelberg University

25 - 27 September, 2014

“Transcultural Framings in Art History: Material, Display, Translation”
, roundtable, co-organized with Anna Grasskamp, First Conference of the European Association for Asian Art and Archaeology (EAAA), Olomouc, Czech Republic

11 January, 2013
“En-Framing Objects in Transcultural Exchange Processes between Japan, China, and Europe,” workshop, organizer, Cluster of Excellence,
Heidelberg University. See:


Papers and invited lectures relevant to the project

1 August, 2016

Frames in Transcultural Encounters: Negotiations of „Perspective“
Conference: Frames and Framings in a Transdisciplinary Perspective Ⅱ: 'Creating Worlds' in Classical Knowledge Systems 

14 March, 2016
The Hachiman engi scrolls: Materiality, Memory and the Role of Colophons
八幡縁起絵巻 — マテリアリティー・記憶・奥書
Invited Lecture, Kyushu University

1 March, 2016
Colophons and other Framing Devices in Hachiman engi scrolls of medieval Japan
"The Imagery and Materiality of the Sacred in Japan and Europe: Buddhism, Shinto, Christianity" 
Joint conference, Heidelberg and Nagoya Universities, Cluster of Excellence, Heidelberg University

10 March, 2015
(Hachiman Karmic Origin Scrolls: Framing local Identities)
Nagoya University, Department of Humanities, Center for the Study of Textual Heritage

8 March, 2015
『可変性をそなえた「フレーム」概念 --『万国人物図』受容の多様性』
(Reflections on the Concept of the Frame: the multiple adaptations of the “Peoples of the World”)
Conference: Frames and Framings in a Transdisciplinary Context, Gakushûin University, Tokyo

25 September, 2014
 The Malleable Concept of the Frame: Appropriating the Peoples of the World, Panel: “Transcultural Framings in Art History: Material, Display, Translation”, European Association of Asian Art and Archaeology (EAAA), Omolouc, Czech Republic

17 July, 2014
Imagining/Framing social and ethnic interactions in pictorial narratives of seventeenth-century Japan, Panel 5: Marginal Peoples in Early Modern and Modern Japan, Panel Organizer: Timon Screech, SOAS, London, First Conference of the Association of Asian Studies in Asia, Singapore

14 May, 2013
Materialität und "Rahmen" in buddhistischen Manuskripten Japans (Materiality and “Frames” in Buddhist Manuscripts of Japan), paper for the lecture series Schrift-Handeln: Materialität und Medialität des Geschriebenen in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, co-speaker: Jörg Quenzer, Hamburg University, moderated by Joachim Kurtz, Heidelberg University; organized by the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB 933): Material Text Cultures, Heidelberg University

Publications relevant to the project and published during the project period

『可変性をそなえた「フレーム」概念 --「万国人物図」受容の多様性』
[The malleable concept of the frame: Appropriating the “Peoples of the World”], in 『思考のフレーム―Frame and Framings』, edited by SANO Midori 佐野みどり編, Tokyo: 青簡舎, 2017: ***. (article in Japanese, forthcoming).

"Hachiman engi scrolls: Survey, research trends, and the role of colophons as evidence of creation processes, reverence, and circulation" /「八幡縁起絵巻――その概説、研究動向、奥書から見る絵巻の制作過程・流通・信仰背景について――」, Tôfû seisei [Research Journal of the Kyushu National Museum] 『東風西声』九州国立博物館研究紀要, vol. 11 (Spring 2016): 17-29 (in Japanese), 103-118 (in English). 

"Hachiman engi scrolls: Colophons as evidence of circulation and copying processes" 「八幡縁起絵巻――奥書から分かる流布と摸写制作」(Hachiman engi emaki: okugaki kara wakaru rufu to mosha seisaku), in Inori no katachi: Hachiman 『祈りのかたち――八幡』(Images of Prayer: Hachiman), edited by the Kyushu National Museum, Dazaifu: Kyushu National Museum, 2016: 44-47.

 “Die Chineser stellen alles einfältig vor”: Schlaglichter auf europäisch-stasiatische Auseinandersetzungen über Perspektive [“The Chinese render everything simple”: East Asian and European Negotiations on Perspective], in Räume -- Bilder -- Kulturen (Spaces, Images, and Cultures), edited by Verena Lepper, Peter Deuflhard, and Christoph Markschies. Berlin: DeGruyter, 2015: 109-132.

„Materialität, Mäzenatentum und Objektbiografien: Kanonisierungsaspekte in der japanischen Malerei,“ [Materiality, Patronage and the Biography of Objects: Aspects of Canonization in Japanese Painting] in Kanon Kunstgeschichte. Einführung in Werke und Methoden [Canon in Art History. Introduction to Works and Methods], Bd. 2: Neuzeit / vol. 2: Early Modern Period, edited by Kristin Marek and Martin Schulz. München/Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2015: 36-58.

 “Localizing the Hachiman engi / Hachiman engi no rôkarizêshon 八幡縁起のローカリゼーション,” (chapter in both English and Japanese), in Katachi saikô – hirakareta katari no tame ni 「かたち」再考——開かれた語りのために」 / Reconsidering “Form”: Towards a more open discussion, edited by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo: National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, 2014, 221-253 (jp.) and 41-64 (engl.); additionally published as a commercial book under the same title, Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2014: 221-253.

"Papier oder Seide?" (sole author, pp. 407-416), and "Sammeln, Ordnen und Archivieren" (co-authored with Rodney Ast, Julia Becker, Lisa Wilhelmi, pp. 687-700), in Materiale Textkulturen: Konzepte, Materialien, Praktiken, edited by Thomas Meier, Michael R. Ott, and Rebecca Sauer, Series: MTK 1, Berlin: DeGruyter, 2014. 

For an overview of contributions to the project by Dr. Anna Grasskamp please see:



Melanie Trede

Group members

Anna Grasskamp