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East Asia in Tayside, Central and Fife

Find out more about East Asian collections in Angus, Clackmannanshire, Dundee City, Falkirk, Fife, Perth and Kinross and Stirling.

Dundee City

The McManus, Leisure and Culture Dundee

There are 295 objects from China, Japan and Korea in the East Asian collections at The McManus. This figure excludes the Cairncross coin and amulet collection which numbers an additional 755 items. In total the museum holds 1,050 East Asian objects.

Within the Chinese collections, The McManus holds combs, chopstick dining sets, musical instruments, Buddhist icons, bronze figures, swords, tangram puzzles, textiles, embroidered shoes, smoking pipes, combs, carved ivory ornaments, coins and amulets.


Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum

The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum holds a few items from East Asia (China and Japan), dating from 1860 to 1907. Highlights of the collection include three leather-bound photo albums containing more than 400 albumen prints bought by Andrew Carnegie in 1878-79 while travelling around the world. The images were taken both by local and western photographers (such as Lai Afong, Felice Beato, Milton Miller, Shuzaburo Usui, Uchida Kuichi and Baron von Stillfried).

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    Cover of one of Andrew Carnegie’s travel albums. Courtesy of the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum.

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    Baron Raimund von Stillfried. [Ainus - Group of Three Men], 1872. Courtesy of the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum.

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    John Thomson or Lai Afong. Itinerant Barber, 1868-1872. Courtesy of the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum.

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    Shuzaburo Usui. [Six Women], 1870s. Courtesy of the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum.

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The museum also holds two embroidered silk textiles from China which relate to the country’s domestic policy in the early 1900s. These textiles were gifted to Carnegie by Chinese reformer Kang Youwei and his daughter Kang Tongbi.  

Fife Cultural Trust

A survey of the collections at Fife Cultural Trust suggests a total of 380-400 East Asian items, including objects from the West Fife collection. This total includes 83 objects that have not been thoroughly identified as coming from a specific part of East Asia.

John Galloway from Cheltenham donated many items to Kirkcaldy Museum in 1926 in memory of his father Patrick James Galloway who was a Sheriff Clerk for Kirkcaldy. The object donated contained natural history specimens and world culture artefacts. He donated 40 Japanese and Chinese artefacts to the collection including Japanese prints, a Japanese sword and Chinese jade bracelets and ivory artefacts.

The second key donor is Mrs Helen M Forbes from Bletchley, who donated over 120 Japanese and Chinese objects to the Kirkcaldy Museum collection in 1950, after advertising the collection in the Museums Journal. The collection contains Chinese export silver, a Chinese cabinet and ceramics. Mrs Helen Forbes and her husband Mr James McGregor Forbes of “The Knoll” Forres, Morayshire both lived in China for 35 years and the collection represents objects they brought home with them.

University of St Andrews Museum Collections

The University of St Andrews Museum Collections has a small number of items that relate to East Asia. Key highlights include a bronze Chinese bell, Korean Hahoe mask and Japanese photographic equipment. There are also East Asian coins and geological samples.

Perth and Kinross

Black Watch Museum

Objects at the Black Watch Museum were donated by families of soldiers who served with the Black Watch. Many of the items in the collection have very clear provenance, or supportive documentation that confirms authorised ownership. The items in the collection at the Black Watch Museum are a record of Scotland’s oldest Highland Regiment and their military campaigns. The East Asian material in the archives documents 20th-century conflicts. Key object of interest are propaganda leaflets that were collected during the Pacific War (1841-1845) and the Korean War (1850-1853), Japanese swords and numerous flags.

Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Culture Perth and Kinross

The East Asian collections at Perth Museum and Art Gallery were donated by Melville Jamieson Gray (1848-1946), and ethnographer, John Henry Dixon (1838-1926). Born in Perth, Gray emigrated to New Zealand where he made a living from sheep farming, accountancy and land management. Gray bequeathed his collections of Chinese, Japanese and Korean arms and armour, and Korean textiles and accessories to PMAG. Yorkshire-born Dixon gave the museum his collection of Ainu textiles in 1919. Dixon was already in his sixties when he began his travels to Japan. He learned Japanese and was interested in Japanese music, art and gardening. At Dundarach Villa in Pitlochry, Dixon embarked on a project to create a Japanese garden, which was achieved with the assistance of the Japanese novelist Sōseki Natsume (1867-1910), four Japanese gardeners and two Japanese carpenters.


The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum

There are around 536 East Asian objects in The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum collection. The principal area covered reflect Stirling’s connections with the military particularly in China during the Opium Wars of the 19th-century. Most of the objects entered the collection before the 1940s and were mainly donated by Stirling-based collectors. Donors with a connection to the military were Major General McIntyre, Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Beath, and Sir Archibald Seton Stewart. Significant donors to the East Asian collections were Miss H L Moodie, Mr J Kirkwood and Leon Jablonski Platt.

Chinese items at The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum include ceramics, musical instruments, ornaments, paintings, and statues. The Japanese collection contains three sets of armour, six swords, netsuke, inrō, ceramics, and okimono. There is a large number of numismatic items, mainly Chinese with only a few of these being Japanese.

East Asia Collections in Tayside, Central And Fife
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