Category Archives: China

Russians in China Exhibition Continues in Moscow

A Harbin-made dress (Alexander Vassiliev collection)

Russians in China exhibition at the State Orient Museum in Moscow (October 13, 2011 – January 2, 2012) traces the history of Russian emigration in China. This topic has become widely popular in the recent years, bringing academics and artists from various fields to contemplate the fate of those Russian emigrants who had to leave the country and to settle in the world quite different from
their own.

The present exhibition is a joint effort of the Russian-born French Historian of Fashion and Costume Designer, Alexander Vassiliev, and the State Orient Museum in Moscow. The exposition looks at the way of life of the Russian emigrants in China in the first half of the 20th c., particularly 1920s-30s. It explores the intercultural dialogue between Russian and Chinese traditions in art and domestic life, and especially at the material culture of the Russian set.

The challenge was presented by the necessity to display the co-existance of Russian and Chinese objects. The artifacts and clothes brought by Russian emigrants were heavily influenced, if not produced, by European designers. This ‘European’ part of exhibition has been entirely selected and arranged by Alexander Vassiliev. Among the dresses of prominent Russian female emigrees are several art deco numbers, some of which were purchased from the collection of the private secretary of the Admiral Kolchak. Other objects on display are dresses and kimonos made in Harbin in 1920s-30s, as well as “Chinoiserie” (Chinese-esque) numbers by British and French designers of the time.

The artifactual part of exhibition comes predominantly from the collection of Dmitry Melnikov who came to live in China in the 19th c. and amassed a superb repertoire of Chinese art works.

Russian emigrants in China usually settled in four of the country’s top cities: Harbin, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Wuhan. The Russian set included such figures as Alexander Vertinsky, Oleg Lundstrem, Larissa Anderson, Pavel Severny, and many others. The world-famous painter Nikolai Roerich also visited these centres of Russian emigration. These figures all left unique recollections of the ups and downs of Russians who escaped their native homes amidst the Revolution and Civil War.

Last but not least, the visitors of the exhibition will also see the examples of Russian-language newspapers that were aimed at aquainting the Russians with the Chinese news, customs, and traditions. Some of the most intriguing displays contain photographs made by Russian emigrants in China and Korea where the well-off folk spent their summers.

The exhibition Russians in China runs until January 2, 2012. Address and visitor information.