B.A., M. A., (Harvard); D. Phil. (Harvard)
Professor So received her Ph.D. from Harvard University, U.S.A., in 1982. She is an art historian specializing in the arts of ancient China. Before returning to Hong Kong, she was the Senior Curator of Chinese Art at The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. and involved in a variety of exhibitions and catalogue projects concerning the art and archaeology of early China. Professor So joined the Department in 2001. She lectures on the history of Chinese jades, Chinese bronzes and methodology in art-historical studies. She was Chair of the Department from 2001 to 2008, the Director of the Institute of Chinese Studies from 2002 to 2011 and the Director of the Art Museum from 2013 to 2015. She is at present Adjunct Professor of Fine Arts.
Professor So’s research focuses mainly on art and archaeology from prehistoric period through the Bronze Age, as well as culture and artistic exchanges between China and its neighbors over the ages. Her recent research projects concern ancient Chinese jades in American collections; history of collecting Chinese art in HK; ancient Chinese gold and artistic cultural exchange.
1. (Ed.) Radiant Legacy: Ancient Chinese Gold in the Mengdiexuan Collection. 3 vols. (in English and Chinese). Hong Kong: Fine Arts Department & Art Museum, Institute of Chinese Studies, C.U.H.K., 2013.
2. (Ed.) Noble Riders from Pines and Deserts: The Artistic Legacy of the Qidan (in Chinese and English). Hong Kong: Art Museum, Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2004.
3. (Ed.) Music in the Age of Confucius. Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2000.
4. (Co-ed with) Emma C. Bunker. Traders and Raiders on China’s Northern Frontier. Washington and Seattle: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and University of Washington Press, 1995.
5. Eastern Zhou Ritual Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sacker Collections (Volume III of Ancient Chinese Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections). New York: Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and Harry N. Abrams, 1995.
6. (Co-authored with) Robert Little. Splendours of the Orient. Montreal: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1985.
1. “Foreign Elements in Pre-dynastic Qin Culture: Materials, Techniques & Types.” In Yang Liu ed. Beyond the First Emperor’s Mausoleum – New Perspectives on Qin Culture (Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2014), pp. 193-212.
2. “Scented Trails: Amber as Aromatic in Medieval China.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Series 3, 23, 1(2013), pp. 85-101.
3. “Antiques Preserved: Meanings of the Jade Cong in Ancient Tombs” In Zheng Yan, Wu Hong, Zhu Qing-sheng ed. Studies on Ancient Tomb Art, vol. 2 (Zhang Sha: Hunan Meishu Chubanshe, 2013), pp. 1-17.
4. “Jades from Niuheliang: Answers to an Archaeological Problem?” Zurich Studies in the History of Art: Georges Bloch Annual, Vol. 13/14, 2009, pp. 79-101.
5. “Finding Paradigms among Northern Song Jades.” In Wang Yao-ting, ed. Conference on Founding Paradigms: Papers on the Art and Culture of the Northern Sung Dynasty (Taipei: Taipei National Palace Museum, 2008), pp. 723-59.
6. “Antiques in Antiquity: Early Chinese Looks at the Past.” Journal of the Institute of Chinese Studies, August 2008, pp. 373-406.
7. “Exploring Ancient Sichuan’s Cultural Contacts: Evidence from Jade and Stone.” In Thomas Lawton, ed. “New Frontiers in Global Archaeology: Defining China’s Ancient Traditions.” Proceedings of the International Symposium Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology at Peking University, 28-20 May 2004 (New York: The AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities, 2008), pp. 297-320.
8. (Co-authored) with Peter J. Lu, Nan Yao, George E. Harlow, Jianfang Lu and Genfu Wang, and Paul M. Chaikin. “Earliest Use of Corundum and Diamond in Prehistoric China.” (Preprint July 18, 2004). Archaeometry 47, 1(2005), pp. 1-12.
9. “A Preliminary on Craved decoration on jade and amber of Qidan: The Significance of White Jade in Qidan Culture” in Proceedings of the International Conference on Tang to Qing Jades held on the 50th anniversary of the Shanghai Museum (Shanghai: Shanghai Guji chubanshe, 2002), pp. 237-48.
10. “Jade and Stone at Sanxingdui.” In Robert Bagley ed. Ancient Sichuan: Treasures from a Lost Civilization (Seattle: Seattle Art Museum and Princeton University Press, 2001), pp. 153-75.
11. “Different Tunes, Different Strings: Court and Chamber Music in Ancient China.” Orientations May, 2000, pp. 26-34.
12. “Chu Art: Link Between the Old and New.” In Constance A. Cook and John S. Major ed. Defining Chu: Image and Reality in Ancient China (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999), pp. 33-47.
13. (Co-authored) with Janet G. Douglas. “Understanding and Identifying Jades from the Hongshan Culture.” In Tang Chung ed. East Asian Jade: Symbol of Excellence, vol. 1 (Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong and Centre for Chiese Archaeology and Art, 1998), pp. 148-63.
14. Addendum to “A Hongshan Jade Pendant in the Freer Gallery of Art.” Hong Kong: Orientations Publications, 1997, p. 171.
1. (Co-authored) with Ling-yun Tang, “Collecting Chinese Art in Hong Kong – A Global Phenomenon.” Paper presented in “The 8th International Conference on the Arts in Society” organized by the Arts in Society, 24-26 June, 2013.
2. “Foreign Elements in Qin Culture: Materials, Manufacture, and Types.” Paper presented in “Beyond the First Emperor’s Mausoleum – New Perspectives on Qin Culture” organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 27-28 October, 2012.
3. “Gold and Jade/Stone excavated from Liangdai cun in Hancheng, Shaanxi.” Paper presented in “International Conference of Relics of Rui state excavated from Hancheng, Shaanxi.” Organized by Shanghai Museum, 13-15 August, 2012.
4. “On the Gold Ornaments of the Pre-Qin period in the collection of Mengdiexuan in Hong Kong.” Paper presented in “International Conference on Qin and the Northern Tribes.” Organized by Qinshihuang Mausoleum Museum, 07-10 August, 2012.
5. “Antiques Saved by the Ancients: Meanings of the Jade Cong in Antique Tombs.” organized by the Center for the Art of East Asia, University of Chicago; School of the Humanities, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Center for Visual Studies, Peking University, 9-11 September, 2011.
6. “Different aspects of Pre-historical Jade Bracelets” Paper presented in “Forum on Liangzhu – Third Annual Meeting of Chinese Jade Culture Center” organized by Chinese Jade Culture Center, 19-21 August, 2011.
7. “Scented Trails: Sources, Uses, and Meanings of Aromatics in Medieval China.” Paper presented at “Perfumery and Ritual – The Use of Incense, Flowers, Distillates, and Aromatic Objects” organized by Heidelberg University Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) ‘Dynamics of Ritual’, 28-30 November, 2010.
8. “Collecting Chinese Art in Hong Kong – A Global Phenomenon.” Paper presented in “Fine Objects: Material Culture Re-though. The Circulation of East Asian Artefacts on Their Route to the West and Their Conservation”, organized by Fundação Oriente, the Instituto dos Museus e da Conservação and the Centro de História de Além-Mar (Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa), 19-20 October, 2009.
9. “Classic of Poetry – Archaeology – and Chinese Ancient Music” Paper presented in “International Committee of The First Working Conference of Research and Translation of ‘Five Classics’.” Organized by Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban), 29 July, 2009。
1. “Why potter, bronze, or jade, and not gold? – Why we need to know our materials in art and Cultural studies?” Seminar presented at the department of Archaeology, Wuhan University, 21 April, 2014.
2. “Why Gold in China: The Significance of Materials in Artistic-Cultural Studies.” Faculty of Arts Colloquium, 13 December, 2013.
3. Lead presenter, Planning workshop on exhibition “Jade: China’s Immortal Soul,” organized by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, 25-27 October, 2013.
4. Moderator, Symposium in honour of Dame Professor Jessica Rawson’s 70th Birthday. British Museum, London, 14-15 June, 2013.
5. Leader, Mellon Bronze Object Study Workshop, Freer Gallery of Art, Washingon, DC, 3-7 June, 2013.
6. Convenor, Workshop on study of gold in China, organized in conjunction with one-day symposium on the opening of Radiant Legacy: Ancient Chinese Gold from the Mengdiexuan Collection at the Art Museum, ICS, 4-5 May, 2013.
7. “Scented Trails: Sources, Uses, and Meanings of Aromatics in Medieval China.” Presented at Perfumery and Ritual – The Use of Incense, Flowers, Distillates, and Aromatic Objects in Asia Workshop, Heidelberg University Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) ‘Dynamics of Ritual’, 28-30 November, 2010.
8. “Bronze Inscriptions for Dummies: A Layman’s Approach.” Presented at conference marking the opening of the Art Institute of Chicago’s special exhibition of Katherine and George Fan’s Collection of Chinese bronzes, 4-8 November, 2010.
9. “Jades of the 10th Century and Dynastic-Ethnic-Regional Identities.” Delivered at Tenth Century China and Beyond: Art and Visual Culture in a Multi-centered Age, symposium organized by the Center for the Art of East Asia, University of Chicago, 14-15 May, 2010.
10. “Antique Jades in Antiquity: Heritage? Collectible? Or Material Resource?” Delivered for the Harvard East Asian Archaeology seminars and Harvard-Yenching Institute, Harvard University, 23 April, 2010.
11. Fine Objects: Material Culture Re-thought, The Circulation of East Asian Artefacts on Their Route to the West, organized by Fundação Oriente, the Instituto dos Museus e da Conservação and the Centro de História de Além-Mar (Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa) 19-20 October, 2009.
12. “The Shijing and early Chinese music: An Archaeological Perspective.” Presented at the First Committee Meeting on the Study and Translation of the Wujing, organized by the Guojia Hanban-Confucius Institute, 29 July, 2009.
13. “Asia-Europe Forum for Field Studies”, organized by E.C.A.F., France, at Pondicherry, India, 6-8 January, 2009.
14. “Antiques in Antiquity: Early Chinese Looks at the Past”. Guest presentation and discussion for “Comparative Empires and Material Culture” (ARCH 1850) seminar at Brown University, 5 March, 2008.
1. Co-Chair, Advisory Committee, Asia Society Hong Kong Center, March 2013 to 2015.
2. Expert Advisor, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 2010-2015.
3. Member, Advisory Board, Arts Asiatiques, E.F.E.O, Paris, September 2010 to date.
4. Member, Advisory Board, Hong Kong International Arts and Antiques Fair (HKIAAF), March 2009 to date.
5. Member, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (and three subcommittees), October 2008-2014.
6. Sector/ Subject Specialist, Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic & Vocational Qualifications, Jan 2008- June 2011.
7. Advisor-assessor, Visual Arts Panel, Asian Cultural Council (March 2011).
8. Member, grants assessment panel, Luce/ACLS Initiatives on Early East AsianArchaeology, 2006, 2007, 2009.
9. Reviewer, Creative Arts, Performing Arts & Design Panel, Research Assessment Exercise 2006, University Grants Committee.
10. Member, Evaluation Committee, Graduate Institute of Art History, National Taiwan University, 10 May 2005 – 13 May 2006.
11. Member, Executive Committee, Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, HKU, 2005 to date.
12. External Assessor, Visual Studies Programme, Department of Philosophy, Ling’nan University.
13. Member, Board of Advisors, The Ink Society Ltd.
14. Governor, Bei Shan Tang Foundation, 2002 to date.