Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Laufer Expedition and the Chinese Wax Cylinders - Presented by Ralph Knag on 3/24/2019

The Earliest Chinese Music Recordings - 1901-4
  • While researching shadow puppets I learned that Indiana University had digitized the early wax cylinders 圓筒留聲機 collected by the Laufer Expedition
  • Recently they have announced funding to curate the collection and get it online
  • Here’s the earlier description of the collection and it’s digitization
  • The project is to be completed in two years, but I’ve been told that the digitized recordings will be online earlier…
  • There’s an number of different genres represented – it’s not clear if there is guqin.
Berthold Laufer
  • The first American sinologist – he was a an anthropologist who worked at the Museum of Natural History and the Field Museum in Chicago.
  • He went to China several times to collect material for the museums (1901-1923.)
  • Over 6,500 objects in the Museum of Natural History and another 19,000 at the Field Museum.
The Laufer Chinese Collections Online Museum of Natural History
You need to select Laufer, Bertold (Donor/Collector), then Asia (Collection Area) and China (Countries) to see the collection. From the 1901-4 expeditions

Field Museum: Laufer music From the 1908 and 1923 expeditions

Laufer the man
  • He worked under Franz Boas at the Museum of Natural History, both early anthropologists. I just read all of Boas work on NW Indians. 
  • Wrote on many things – he was famous for his work on Jade and ceramics, but also liked curiosities: The Swing in China, Insect Musicians of China (Crickets), tree climbing fish and more
  • "I have come to love the land and the people," he once wrote. "I feel myself to be better and healthier as a Chinese than as a European.“ This at a time soon after the Chinese exclusion act (1882) 
  • One of the few scholars of his time fluent in Chinese and other languages

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