SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

John Johnston

BA, History, University of Georgia, Certificate in Global Studies, 1992, MA, Asian Studies, University of Hawaii, Asian Studies, Chinese Art Focus, 1996.
  • Overview
  • Teaching
  • Research


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Mr John Johnston
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Thesis title:
Jiangxi Landmarks on Jingdezhen Porcelain of the 18th and 19th Centuries with Special Reference to Tengwang Ge
Year of Study:
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Began the PhD program at SOAS after working as a curator of Asian art for ten years. Main interests are the history and social/cultural context of Chinese porcelain, particularly Jingdezhen wares. Numerous global themes are relevant in my research including the role of Chinese export imagery in the visualization of the "Orient" in the West from the 18th to early 20th centuries.

PhD Research

Tengwang Ge (滕王閣), or the Pavilion of Prince Teng, is a major landmark in Nanchang, Jiangxi province that appears as a motif on Chinese porcelain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries during the Qing dynasty. The renown of Tengwang Ge was established by the celebrated literary works Preface and Poem of Tengwang Ge (滕王閣序詩, Tengwang Ge Xu and Shi) written by Wang Bo (王勃) in 675. A number of other historic sites and landmarks in Jiangxi province also appear as motifs on Chinese porcelain during the early modern period. The evolution of Tengwang Ge imagery and accompanying inscriptions on three major Qing porcelain ware types are studied in depth. The history of Tengwang Ge representation in painting and carved lacquer provides context and the fundamental visual vocabulary for the later representations of the pavilion on porcelain. The presence and significance of Tengwang Ge as a theme in export wares is also explored.


  • Centre for Chinese Studies


  • Instructor, University of Hawaii, for course “Buddhist Cultures of the Himalayas," summer, 2008.
  • English Instructor, Jiangxi University, 1992-1993.
  • Numerous lectures and training sessions at international universities and museums.


  • Chinese Ceramics
  • Ming and Qing Blue and White Porcelain
  • East Asian Design History
  • Himalayan Buddhist Art
  • Bhutanese Art
  • Chinese Buddhist Art
  • Southeast Asian Ceramics