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International Research Centre for the History and Culture of Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms

Established in 2019, the aim of the International Research Centre is to promote academic research into the history and culture of the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms (dating from 653-937CE and 937-1253CE respectively), located largely in today’s Yunnan province in southwest China.

The Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms flourished in what is now southwest China (mainly in Yunnan province) as well as parts of Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. The Kingdoms were strategically located, influenced by Tibetan, Tang (618–907) and Song (960-1279) dynasty cultures, as well as civilisations in Southeast Asia, and they produced unique and important Buddhist art forms.



Caption:Silver Amitaba Buddha. Woon Brothers Foundation Collection.The Research Centre will:

  • develop understanding of the Buddhist material from the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms which is scattered in collections around the world
  • enhance academic research, as well as the preservation of existing collections
  • advance international academic communication and cooperation
  • develop the training of young professionals.


Over the next few years, the Centre will:

  • promote and strengthen cultural and academic exchanges
  • develop joint research projects
  • organise academic seminars, lectures and symposia
  • publish academic work in both Chinese and English
  • initiate collaborative exhibitions in China, Singapore and the UK


Caption:Mr Wee Teng Woon pictured with Northumbria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Wathey at the Woon Gallery of Asian Art.The Research Centre has three partners:

  • Northumbria University
  • Yunnan Provincial Museum
  • The Woon Brothers Foundation, Singapore.

Northumbria University also has important works from the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms from the Woon Brothers Foundation Collection on display in the Woon Gallery of Asian Art.

For information contact Louise Tythacott, Woon Tai Jee Professor of Asian Art:


Meet our researchers

Click on a researcher's name to find out more about their work.

Louise Tythacott

Professor, The Woon Tai Jee Professor of Asian Art




Jean Brown

Associate Professor in Art Conservation




Jane Colbourne

Senior Lecturer in Art Conservation




Nicola Grimaldi

Senior Lecturer in Art Conservation




Charis Theodorakopoulos

Senior Lecturer in Art Conservation




Chiara Bellini

Stride Lecturer in Technical Art History




Ayesha Fuentes

Stride Lecturer in Arts Conservation 




Richard Mulholland

Vice-Chancellor's Fellow in Art Conservation




Researchers in China

Prof. Ma Wendou (马文斗)

Director of the Yunnan Provincial Museum, Kunming, China

Prof. Ma is China's well-known cultural relics identification expert and museology expert. He has engaged in museum management, exhibition planning, cultural relics identification and research for more than 30 years.



Prof. Qiu Xuanchong (邱宣充)

Researcher at the Yunnan Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism; Visiting Professor at the Department of History at Yunnan University, Yunnan, China

Majored Archaeology at Peking University in 1960.

Professor Qiu has participated in several important archaeological projects in China and was also the main archaeologist in charge of the Three Pagodas at the Chongsheng Monastery in Dali, Yunnan. Professor Qiu’s academic focus is Yunnanese material culture and religious history during the period of Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms.


Prof. Zhang Yongkang (张永康)

Researcher, Yunnan Provincial Cultural Relics Authentication Expert Committee, Yunnan, China

Mr. Zhang took part in several important excavations of ancient tombs in Yunnan province, such as the tombs of Lijiashan in Jiangchuan county, Dadunzi in Yuanmou county, Wangjiaba in Chuxiong and Batatai in Qujing. He has been working with Yunnanese cultural relics for decades. During his career, he has helped to examine and identify a great number of Yunnanese objects for museums and collectors.


Prof. Xiong Wenbin (熊文彬) 

Professor at the Institute of Tibetology at the University of Sichuan, Chengdu, China

PhD Tibetan Art History, China Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China, 1994.

Professor Xiong is a leading scholar in the area of Tibetan religious art. Much of his research was carried out in the Tibetan region, in which he gained access to a number of precious mural paintings in local Lama monasteries, including the mural paintings in the Baiju Monastery in Jiangzi County and Xianu Monastery in Shigatse, Tibet.


Mr. Luo Wenhua (罗文华)

Researcher at the Palace Museum; Director of the Institute of Tibetan Buddhist Relics at the Palace Museum, Beijing, China

Majored Archaeology at Peking University in 1989.

Between 1992 and 1994, Mr. Luo studied both Tibetan language and Sanskrit at the Minzu University of China and the China Tibetology Research Center. He has been working with Tibetan materials (both imperial collection of Tibetan Buddhist objects at the court and materials in situ at temples in Tibet) for nearly three decades. His papers and books analyse issues of Tibetan Buddhism in China - in particular, the transmission of Tibetan Buddhist style in central China, and how Buddhism in the surrounding milieu of China influenced the development of Sino-Tibetan Buddhist art.


Prof. Hou Chong (候冲)

Professor at the Department of Philosophy at Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai, China

PhD Philosophy, Shanghai Normal University, 2009.

Professor Hou specialises in Yunnanese Buddhism and the local religious beliefs of the Bai minority peoples. He has helped compile and edit several Yunnanese Buddhist sutras, including three sutras of the Dali Kingdom and four classics of the Azhali belief. He is currently in charge of the National Social Science Fund Youth Project Research on the Classics of Azhali Belief in Yunnan.


Prof. Li Donghong (李东红)

Director of the Yunnan University Library, Kunming, China

PhD History.

His main research fields span ethnic studies to Yunnanese local archaeology. As a member of the Bai ethnic group, he specialises in Bai people’s religion, history and culture. As well as studying the impact of Buddhism upon the local Azhali beliefs of the Bai people he also examines Daoist and Confucianist influences on local people during the Nanzhao and Dali periods. 


Prof. Chen Hao (陈浩)

Researcher at the Yunnan Provincial Museum, Kunming, China

Mr Chen has been working with various categories of objects collected in the Yunnan Provincial Museum for years. He excels at the identification of calligraphy, painting, ceramics, bronze and jade, and has also helped organise and curate several exhibitions at the Yunnan Provincial Museum.  


Prof. Fan Haitao (樊海涛)

Researcher at the Yunnan Provincial Museum and Head of the Storage Department at the Yunnan Provincial Museum, Kunming, China

Mr. Fan specialises in bronze objects in the collection of Yunnan Provincial Museum and his main research field is the study of Yunnanese bronze material culture. During his career, Mr. Fan has also trained to preserve different types of Yunnanese materials.


Dr. Yang Xueyin (杨雪吟)

Researcher at the Yunnan Provincial Museum, Member and Secretary-General of the Academic Committee of Yunnan Provincial Museum and Deputy Secretary-General of Yunnan Cultural Heritage Museum Association

Dr Yang’s main responsibility is to promote and preserve Yunnanese local heritage and cultural relics to the public. She is also committed to the study of ecology and culture.


Prof. Mu Rui (沐蕊)

Researcher at the Yunnan Provincial Museum and Head of the Technology Department at the Yunnan Provincial Museum, Kunming, China

Ms. Mu majored in chemistry for her undergraduate degree. She is an expert with wide experience of how to preserve, repair and duplicate different types of materials collected by the Yunnan Provincial Museum - including traditional Yunnanese architecture, bronze objects, fur and leather materials.


Dr. Guo Jia (郭佳)

Associate Researcher at the Yunnan Provincial Museum, Kunming, China

Dr. Guo is engaged in cultural heritage research and cultural exchanges at the Yunnan Provincial Museum. Her research focuses on the anthropology of art, landscape archaeology, as well as the ethnic culture of local minority people.


Prof. Duan Lingling (段玲铃)

Associate Researcher at the Yunnan Provincial Museum, Kunming, China

MA in folklore in Yunnan University.

Duan Lingling joined Yunnan Provincial Museum in 2007 and now is curator and associate researcher, who has organised and participated in exhibitions in many museums.


Prof. He Su (贺苏)

Associate Researcher at the Yunnan Provincial Museum, Kunming, China

Ms He is interested in Chinese traditional painting and has helped the museum and local collectors to authenticate their cultural relics.



Prof. Zhao Yun (赵云)

Associate Researcher at the Yunnan Provincial Museum, Kunming, China

Mr Zhao is interested in objects from the Yunnanese bronze era, as well as Buddhist art in Yunnan. He worked at archaeological sites in Yunnan, such as the Three Pagodas project in Dali.



Dr. Xiong Yan (熊燕) 

Associate Researcher at the Yunnan Provincial Museum,Kunming, China

Dr Xiong’s focus is the study of the history and culture of Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhism in the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms. In particular, she examines the mutual influences between Tibetan and Yunnanese religious art, and much of her research is based on objects collected by the Yunnan Provincial Museum. 

Call for papers

Call for papers - 'Art, History and Culture of the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms’

Art, History and Culture of the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms

In November 2019, the International Research Centre for the History and Culture of Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms (IRC) was co-established by the Yunnan Provincial Museum in China, the Woon Brothers Foundation in Singapore and Northumbria University, UK. The aim is to improve understanding of the history, culture, and art of the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms in Yunnan province, Southwest China. Dating between the 7th-13th centuries CE, these kingdoms produced unique and important Buddhist art forms.

Located in, and managed by, the Yunnan Provincial Museum, the IRC intends to advance academic research, international cooperation and communication. The preservation of existing collections will be an important focus, as well as the development of understanding of the rich Buddhist material from the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms in museum collections around the world.

The IRC now invites individual papers, academic comments or topical discussions relating to the Nanzhao-Dali period for a forthcoming edited book, Art, History and Culture of the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms .

Please provide the following in English and/or Chinese:

Title and abstract (300 words) and short bio (150 words).

Papers of between 8,000-15,000 words or academic commentary of around 5,000-8,000 words, illustrations (300dpi or above), using Chicago referencing system.

Manuscripts should be submitted in Word format to the following email:

Deadline: 31st January 2021

For any additional information, please email or contact 86-871-67286823.










(1)信息页:①标题 ②作者姓名 ③服务单位 ④内容摘要 ⑤关键词 ⑥作者简介,详细通信地址,邮编,电话号码,电子信箱。①—⑥项,请附带英文,以作对照;




(2)引文注释: 凡涉及英文或引证的观点等资料来源请注明出处。引文标注依据国际通行的英语论文书写“Chicago 格式”。

4.来稿所提供图表、照片务必清晰,无版权争议,图片的像素要求在 300dpi以上;图表、照片应附编号和说明文字。








Tan See Bock PhD student

SoChing Wong  王素菁

Tan See Bock PhD student (2020-2023)

My research aims to achieve an understanding of Buddhist bronze statues and their casting techniques in the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms, ancient Southwest China. With significant numbers of ancient Chinese bronze statues in the Woon Collection of Asian Art and other collections, my project will use a holistic approach to explore the histories and iconographies of the collection. 

In addition, by revealing the composition of the bronzewares, I will study their components, identify evidence for their manufacture and the influences on the technology used in the area, so as to implement the best approach to the care and conservation of these ancient Chinese bronzes for their sustainability and museum display.



Tan See Bock 博士生 (2020-2023)



Research Associates

Megan Bryson

Associate Professor and Associate Head, University of Tennessee

Megan Bryson’s research focuses primarily on themes of gender and ethnicity in Chinese religions, especially in the Dali region of Yunnan Province. The geographical specificity of her work is balanced by its temporal breadth, which ranges from the Nanzhao (649-903) and Dali (937-1253) kingdoms to the present, as reflected in her monograph, Goddess on the Frontier: Religion, Ethnicity, and Gender in Southwest China (Stanford University Press, 2016), which traces the worship of a local deity in Dali from the 12th to 21st centuries.


Dr Charlotte Galloway

Honorary Associate Professor, Asian Art History and Curatorial Studies, Director Myanmar Research Centre, Australian National University, Canberra.

Dr Galloway is an Asian art historian specialising in the early art of Myanmar. With a background in museums, her more recent activities have supported colleagues in Myanmar to document archaeological collections at the first millennium Pyu sites of Sri Ksetra and Halin. She is involved in research collaborations at Bagan, and her current projects also engage with cultural heritage issues. Her ongoing research interests lie in the development of Myanmar’s early Buddhist imagery, and its broader regional connections.


John Guy

Florence and Herbert Irving Curator of the Arts of South and Southeast Asia , Department of Asian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

John Guy was senior curator of Indian art at the Victoria and Albert Museum for 22 years prior to joining The Met in 2008. He is an elected fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has served as an advisor to UNESCO. He has conducted extensive field research on Buddhist and Hindu South Asia, and participated in maritime excavations. He has curated numerous exhibitions, including Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India (2011), Interwoven Globe (2013), Lost Kingdoms. Hindu Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia (2014), The Lion Avatar in Indian Temple Drama (2016), Y. G. Srimati and the Indian Style (2017), and Crowns of the Vajra Masters: Ritual Art of Nepal (2018).

Professor Angela Howard

Professor of Asian Art, Specializing in Buddhist Art of China and Central Asia, Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences

Professor Howard’s teaching spans Chinese and Japanese art. Her research, however, has focused primarily on the development of Buddhist art in China, as signaled by her first book, The Imagery of the Cosmological Buddha (Leiden: E.J.Brill, 1986). Starting in 1985, with the support of a series of NEH Fellowships, Dr. Howard became deeply involved with the Buddhist art of southwest China (Sichuan and Yunnan). Her work recording Buddhist cave and cliff sculptures in southwestern China has led to two ground-breaking articles: “Tang Buddhist Sculpture of Sichuan: Unknown and Forgotten,” Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 60 (1988): 1-164 and “The Dharani Pillar of Kunming, Yunnan. A Legacy of Esoteric Buddhism and Burial Rites of the Bai People in the Kingdom of Dali (937-1253), Artibus Asiae, 57, 1 / 2 (1997): 33. Afterwards, in Summit of Treasures, Buddhist Cave Art of Dazu, China (Trumbull, CT: Weatherhill, Inc., 2001), Dr. Howard published the result of her fifteen-year research on the monumental cave complexes of the Baodingshan site at Dazu, Sichuan.


Kathy Ku 古正美

Associate Professor, National Cheng Kung University, NCKU, Tainan, Taiwan

Professor Ku has undertaken research on the implementation and development of Mahayana Buddhist political history or Mahayana Buddhist nation-building beliefs in Asia for more than 30 years. Her research spans Central Asia to Southeast Asia, and focuses on different periods in the long history of Buddhist religion. A focus is the iconography and history of the Avalokiteshvara and Avatamsaka Buddharaja traditions in different Asian regions. Her most recent study is a detailed analysis of Zhang Shengwen's Long Scroll (2018), in which she examines the history and development of Buddhism in Yunnan.

Professor Elizabeth Moore

Emeritus Professor, Department of History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts, SOAS University of London

Dr Moore has undertaken research in Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, and Thailand. Prior to completing her PhD at the Institute of Archaeology (UCL) she worked in Nairobi, Jakarta and Singapore. Since joining SOAS in 1992, she has developed a broad-based undergraduate and graduate syllabus for Southeast Asian art and archaeology, including ancient and contemporary aspects of mainland and island areas.

Heidi Tan

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts, SOAS University of London

Heidi Tan was a founding curator of the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore where she worked since 1996. She was responsible for developing the Southeast Asian collections and permanent galleries of the museum. She curated a series of special exhibitions in collaboration with regional museums in Southeast Asia including: Viet Nam. From Myth to Modernity (2008), Sumatra: Isle of Gold (2010), Enlightened Ways. The Many Streams of Buddhist Art in Thailand (2012) and most recently contributed to Cities and Kings. Ancient Treasures from Myanmar (2016).

Prof Bin YANG 楊斌

Full Professor, Department of Humanities, University of Macau

Professor Bin's research interests are: Chinese History, World History (Sino-Southeast Asian-Indian triangular Interactions), History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

His current projects are: The Gu (蛊): Disease, Witchcraft and Sorcery, Love Magic, and Chinese Empire Building (book manuscript), Red Guards in Burma (1960s-1980s): an Oral History.


Above left-right: 1. Silver Vairocana Buddha, Yunnan, Dali Kingdom, dated to the 5th year of Sheng De reign of Emperor Duan Zhixing (corresponding to AD 1180). H: 37.1cm; 2.3.and 4. Silver pagoda enshrining a gold seated Amitabha Buddha with 9 smaller pagodas atop each enshrining a gold standing Acuoye Guanyin, Yunnan, Late Nanzhao or Dali Kingdom. H: 51.5cm. All Woon Brothers Foundation Collection.


Above left-right: 1. Gilt bronze Acuoye Guanyin, Late Nanzhao or Dali Kingdom. H: 45.3cm. Northumbria University. 2. Silver Acuoye Guanyin, Late Nanzhao or Dali Kingdom. H: 38.7 cm. Woon Brothers Foundation Collection. 3. Gilt bronze Buddha, Dali Kingdom. H: 28cm. Woon Brothers Foundation Collection. Also navigation image on previous page. 4. Gold Buddha, Dali Kingdom. Dated to the 1st Year of Li Zhen Reign of Emperor Duan Zhixing (corresponding to AD 1172). H: 19cm. Woon Brothers Foundation Collection.

Above left-right: 1. Pavilion of stone-carved standing Acuoye Guanyin at Grotto No. 13 of Sha Deng Qin; 2. Plaque at Grotto No. 13 of Sha Deng Qing; 3. The Entrance to Shi Zhong Si Temple & Grottoes at Shi Bao Mountain, Jianchuan, Yunnan; 4. View of Shi Bao Mountain, Jianchuan, Yunnan.






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