Cultural history, from furniture assembly to 3D modeling

Zhao Ma, Associate Professor of Chinese History and Culture, discusses unique features of a bed from the Qing Dynasty Era. He is leading an effort to restore the bed. The bed was on display in Brookings Quadrangle for students to examine.
2022-10-15 -- Zhao Ma's 'Crafting Qing Bed: The Physical and the Digital'

Cultural historians often analyze household objects as if they were literary texts, studying the way that the material culture of everyday life reflects social and economic mores. In Zhao Ma’s Chinese civilization course students visit the St. Louis Art Museum to analyze vases and silks up-close. Just outside of Brookings Hall, they got even closer, learning how the parts of a 100-year-old marriage bed felt to the people who slept in it every night.

 Ma, associate professor of modern Chinese history and culture, acquired the antique nearly a year ago, storing it disassembled in his office while he considered ways that the elaborately carved piece of furniture might serve as a useful teaching tool.  

In addition to giving current students an opportunity for hands-on construction and up-close analysis, Ma received a grant from the Humanities Digital Workshop to work with the Caleres Fabrication Studio in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual arts to create a 3D model of the bed for future use in the classroom.

Read the article on the Art Sci website.