Asian and Middle Eastern Art Research Guide

Welcome to the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives' Asian and Middle Eastern Research Guide. This is a select list of mostly freely-available resources for students, teachers, and reserachers to learn about Asian, Islamic, and Ancient Near Eastern Art. Please feel free to Contact Us with suggestions for additional resources or with questions.

East Asian Art

  • Taiwan eBook: Chinese Philosophy and Religion:  National Central Library of Taiwan is an important resource for academic research in Taiwan and abroad. This database offers access to open access material including, Chinese philosophy and religion with 790 full text title.
  • Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History - East Asia:  The Metropolitan Museum of Art developed this timeline reference tool of art history including a very helpful section on the art of East Asia.
  • Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy:  The Freer Gallery of Art possesses an important collection of Chinese with its holdings from the Song and Yuan dynasties (10th–14th centuries) being particularly significant. This online database includes an extraordinary group of eighty-two paintings and three works of calligraphy. More than ninety other examples of Song and Yuan calligraphy are featured in frontispieces, inscriptions, or colophons of the paintings.
  • Ancient Chinese Jade:  Freer and Sackler collections of ancient Chinese jades which combines museum and archaeological research with archival records and documentary images to stimulate new study. This first volume, chiefly dedicated to Neolithic pieces, will be followed by volumes featuring works produced during the Bronze Age.
  • Center for Korean Studies:  Links to a useful bibliography on Korean History compiled by Kenneth Robinson that includes an extensive section on the arts of Korea.
  • The International Dunhuang Project (IDP): the Silk Road Online:  IDP is a ground-breaking international collaboration to make information and images of all manuscripts, paintings, textiles and artefacts from Dunhuang and archaeological sites of the Eastern Silk Road freely available on the Internet and to encourage their use through educational and research programs.
  • Zasshi Kiji Sakuin Shusei Detabesu:  This is a database index of 1.5 million Japanese journal articles published since 1868 to present. Also includes local periodicals in addition to standard commercial periodicals
  • Asia Art Archive:  Based in Hong Kong, Asia Art Archive is an independent non-profit organisation with a growing collections of material on the recent history of art from Asia that they are making available, for free, on the internet. The collection comprises a vast range of documentation, including the personal archives of significant artists, educators, and art professionals as well as key exhibitions and art spaces.
  • Asia for Educators: An initiative of the Weatherhead East Asia Institute at Columbia University, the site offers a wealth of resources for both students and teachers.  It includes online museum resource links for Asian art that can be searched by art subject area, time period or country/religion.

South and Southeast Asian Art

  • Kalasampada:  Indira Gandi National Center for the Arts (IGNCA) – Digital Library. Important source for information on South Asian art; includes links to image collections, music and performance recordings, online books, papers, research reports and bibliographies.
  • Digital South Asia Library:  Sponsored by the University of Chicago and the Center for Research Libraries. This is a collection of reference resources, images, maps, statistics, bibliographies, books, journals related to the study of South Asian history and culture. It also includes a link to South Asia Resource Access on the Internet (SARAL)
  • Southeast Asia Digital Library:  Created by librarians from the Committee on Research Materials on Southeast Asia (CORMOSEA). Provides access to archives of textural, image, sound and video resources, both historical and current, related to Southeast Asia. Resources are grouped by country.
  •  Website on the ancient Indus or Harappan Civilization (3500-1700 BCE). Scholars from India, Pakistan, England, Europe and the United States publish their work on the site, including articles, slideshows and essays covering both basic facts and the latest research.

Islamic and Ancient Near Eastern Art

  • Digital Library of the Middle East:  Information on the cultures of the Middle East and North Africa. Free and open access to data from collections around the world.
  • Discover Islamic Art:  The Museum With No Frontiers' (MWNF) database of Images of over 1200 Islamic art works held in international collections with details for each piece.
  • Archnet:  Database focused on architecture, urbanism, environmental and landscape design, visual culture, and conservation issues related to the Muslim world. It is one of the largest open, online architectural libraries with a focus on Muslim cultures.
  • MidEast and Islamic Resources (AMIR):  This is a blog documenting open access projects, databases and material relating to the study of the Middle East including art, architecture and archaeology.
  • Princeton Digital Library of Islamic Manuscripts:  The Princeton University Digital Library has 9,500 Islamic manuscripts. The manuscripts are chiefly in Arabic but include some in Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and other languages of the Islamic world. They date from the early centuries of Islam through the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Islamic Printed Page:  The Islamic Painted Page database contains references for Persian, Ottoman, Arab and Mughal paintings. You can use this database to locate printed reproductions, commentaries and web links for thousands of Islamic paintings and book bindings from over 230 international collections.
  • Wellcome Arabic Manuscripts Online:  The Arabic manuscripts collection of the Wellcome Library (London). Includes around 1000 manuscript books and fragments relating to the history of medicine. These manuscripts are part of the Wellcome Library's Asian Collection, which comprises some 12,000 manuscripts and 4,000 printed books. The Islamic collections include Arabic and Persian manuscripts and printed books as well as a small collection of Ottoman manuscripts and books in Turkish.
  • Archive of Mesopotamian Archaeological Reports (AMAR):  A Stony Brook University collection of site reports describing archaeological excavations both in Iraq and surrounding areas (Turkey, Syria, Iran and the Gulf).
  • AWOL - The Ancient World Online:  A blog providing information on Open Access books and journals related to the study of the ancient world which includes resources on the Ancient Near East
  • ETANA:  A web portal to an archival repository for archaeological data that includes almost 200 digitized volumes of core materials for the study of the Ancient Near East.
  • ACHEMENET:  An important resource for scholarly information on theAchaemenid Empire, including links to online publications, digitized 16th -17th century travelers’ accounts of their visits to ancient Persian monuments and 19th century photographs of Persepolis. There is also a collection of digitized textural sources organized by language
  • SASANIKA – Late Antique Near Eastern Project:  An important resource for Sasanian studies. The site includes a list of Iranian academic journals, a list of Middle Persian sources as well as important secondary historical sources and a list of archaeological sites
  • Biblioiranica:  Bibliographia Iranica has information on recent publications and events related to Iranian studies, covering the field in its broadest sense from antiquity through to the early Islamic ear.
  • Return to Palmyra:  An online Getty Research Institute exhibition documenting this important UNESCO world heritage site through a collection of rare images of site ruins that no longer exist.
  • The Sogdians: Influencers on the Silk Roads - Freer and Sackler Galleries:  An online digital publication that includes examples of Sogdian art and material culture, religion and history and evidence of their important role in trade along the Silk Roads.
Last Updated March 29, 2021