On Monday February 11th the International Heritage Project provided a pop-up display of documents from Archive Services and Special Collections to support the East Asia Global Regional Activity Briefing (GRAB) Lunch.
Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716), a German naturalist and physician, travelled in Japan between 1690 and 1692. His History of Japan, published posthumously, was the chief source of Western knowledge about the country throughout the 18th century.
At Kaempfer’s death his mostly unpublished manuscripts were purchased by Sir Hans Sloane, and conveyed to England. Among them was a History of Japan, translated from the manuscript into English by Sloane’s librarian John Gaspar Scheuchzer (1702–1729) and published at London in 1727. Besides Japanese history, this book contains a description of the political, social and physical state of the country in the 17th century. For upwards of a hundred years it remained the chief source of information for the general reader, and is still not wholly obsolete. Part of Hunterian Collection
To complement Vol. I & II of The History of Japan we also displayed a volume of Watercolour paintings of Chinese rural life, late 18th century / early 19th century (MS Gen 1127). This bound volume of 99 watercolours was acquired from an unknown source before 1805, indicating that the date of execution was prior to this.
The watercolours give a fascinating insight into late 18th / early 19th-century village life in China. We see villagers ploughing the fields, tending rice crops, out in boats, making baskets, selling wares, occupied in calligraphy, thatching, making offerings at a shrine, drinking tea and smoking. It also offers little humorous vignettes of everyday life: a hen stealing grain, children playing around adults as they work, and lovers meeting. They are beautifully drawn, with bright colours and a delicate brush.
From Archive Services we selected a variety of student records including this Matriculation Slip for Rinzaburo Shida, 1880-1881 (R8/5/1/8)
Rinzaburo Shida (1855-1892) was one of the first four Japanese students to attend the University of Glasgow in 1880. He was part of an academic study abroad programme sponsored by the Japanese Meiji Government as part of their national strategy to import Western applied science and technology. Shida was the first graduate of the Imperial College of Engineering, Tokyo, to be sent to work with Sir William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) on electromagnetism and telegraphy.
He matriculated in session 1880-1881, aged 24, giving as his birthplace Nagasaki. He attended classes in Mathematics and in Natural Philosophy (Physics). He excelled as a student, gaining second place in the senior mathematics class, first place in the first year Natural Philosophy class, first place in higher mathematical class, and winning the Cleland Gold medal for the best experimental investigation of magnetic susceptibility.
On his return to Japan in 1883 he was appointed to Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Imperial College of Engineering. Shida led the development of radio technology in Japan: The first transmission experiments, conducted in 1886, were due to Shida and used the conduction method across the River Sumida in Tokyo by immersing electrodes in the water. Shida founded the Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan in 1888, and was given the title of Doctor of Engineering. He died of tuberculosis in 1892 at the relatively young age of 37.
Group pose in front of the fireplace of Tatsu Okubo (seated right), an unidentified Japanese student, and the Watts family, with whom Okubo lodged (c1895). Due to the lack of university accommodation students had to lodge with relatives or landladies and their families. Many overseas families found the customs of Glasgow families, especially the food and ‘beds in cupboards,’ which is how they described box beds, quite daunting.
After graduating from the Royal College of Science, in London, Tatsu Okubo came to the University of Glasgow to study Navel Architecture from 1895-1898. His matriculation slips state that Okubo was 22 when he first arrived at the university, that he had been born in Tokyo, Japan, and that his father, Ichio, had been a Senator.
Finally from Archive Services we also included the Astronomy Class Photograph 1910-1911 (UP5/1/5), which features a young Wenjiang Ding who graduated BSc from the University of Glasgow in 1911.
Ding was born in Taixing, Jiangsu Province in 1888. He first matriculated at the University of Glasgow in 1907, aged 19. Within the faculty of Science, Ding took classes in Chemistry, Natural Philosophy (Physics), Zoology, Mathematics, Geology, Geography, German, and Astronomy. He was one of only two overseas students (out of 36 students) to attend the University’s very first Geography class of 1909-10. While at the University, Ding excelled as a student, receiving numerous awards and prizes.
Wenjiang Ding’s distinguished career saw him become the Founder and first Director of the Geological Survey of China (between 1916 and 1921); the first Professor of Geology in Peking (Beijing) University (1931-1934); Secretary-General of the Academia Sinica (1934-36); and Director of the Institute of Geological Investigations of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and Agriculture.
Through Wenjiang’s academic and scientific work, including co-editing the New Geographic Map of the Republic of China and the Provincial Maps of China, he made a significant contribution to the promotion of science in China.
For further information on the University’s International Story please click here.
The International Heritage Project is very keen to support any international events, whether visits overseas, through providing posters or content for presentations, or international visits to the university, through displays of objects from the cornucopia that is the University’s cultural collections. Please get in touch if you think we can help with your international projects and events.