Lotos im Wind, Hängerolle, Farben und Gold auf Seide, Yuan-Dynastie, 13.–14. Jh., Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst Köln ©RBA


The China collection

The core elements of the China collection are the archaic sacred bronzes with famous masterpieces dating from ca. 1500 BCE to the 2nd century CE, as well as early Chinese pottery (ca. 3000 BCE to 13th century CE) and porcelain from the Ming and Qing dynasties (15th to 19th centuries). The museum also possesses outstanding examples of Buddhist stone sculpture of the 6th century and wood sculpture of the 11th and 12th centuries. Monochrome ink painting and calligraphy both by artist-scholars and commissioned from professional studio artists form a further important collection complex. The museum also houses outstanding examples of Chinese lacquer art, jade works, textiles, carpets and classic Chinese furniture of the 17th and 18th centuries.


Early pottery and bronze
Nine bronze bells, bronze, height ranging from 25, 5 to 60, 6 cm, late Western Zhou period to early Spring and Autumn period, 8th century B.C., Museum of East Asian Art Cologne, long-term loan of the Ludwig collection © RBA
Two eggshell cups, thinly skimmed black clay, 21, 2 x 19, 7 cm, Longshan culture, 3rd-2nd century B.C., Shandong province, Museum of East Asian Art Cologne, long-term loan of Ludwig collection © RBA
Storage jar, type guan, red clay with black and dark red cold painting, height 40 cm, Gansu province, Yangshao culture, 2600-2300 B.C., Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA
Ceremonial ax, type Yue, China, Shang dynasty (16th-11th century B.C.), 13th century B.C., bronze, 35 x 37, 8 cm, Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA
The nine bronze bells are transported in the depot of the museum, 1999.
Wine vessel, type Fangyi, bronze, height 22, 5 cm, Shang dynasty, 12th-13th century B.C., Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA

The collection comprises, alongside earthenware, proto-porcelain and ash-glaze stoneware, also lead-glaze funerary ceramics (mingqi). These came into fashion more than 2000 years ago and reached their culmination in the monumental sculptures of horses and camels during the Tang dynasty. These are impressively represented by loans from the Ludwig Stiftung. 9th-century genuine white porcelain from the Ding and Xing kilns of northern China as well as northern and southern celadon (greenware) from the 10th to the 13th centuries are well represented as is Yingqing porcelain, the forerunner of ware from Jingdezhen.

With their delicate relief decor featuring monster and animal masks, the bronzes from the Shang to the Han dynasties (15th century BCE – 2nd century CE), cast in an elaborate mould process, testify to the highest technical perfection. Hans-Jürgen von Lochow, a railway engineer who lived in China from 1921 to 1955, acquired his fantastic collection from the Beijing-based art dealer Otto Burchard (1893–1965). With the consent of Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, von Lochow was able to export his collection to Germany in 1955. The sacred bronzes are containers for sacrificial gifts of food, water and wine, made to pacify the spirits in the temples of ancestors. However they also served as grave gifts, doubtless to proclaim to the world beyond the high social status of their owners. The unique set of 8th-century-BCE bronze bells from the collection of Peter and Irene Ludwig mist have been intended to show off the height of luxury.

Buddhist sculptures
Stone Stele with twin bodhisattvas, marble, height 94, 5 cm, Northern Qi dynasty (550-577), Hebei province, Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA
Bodhisattva Guanyin, marble with rests of colored surface, height 96 cm, Northern Qi dynasty (550-577), Hebei province, Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA
Buddha Shakyamuni, marble with rests of colored surface, height 65, 6 cm. Sui dynasty (581-618), Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA
Laojun, limestone, height 56 cm, Tang dynasty, late 7th to early 8th century, Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA
Water and moon Guanyin, colored wood, height 109, 9 cm, late Song to Ming dynasty, 13th to 14th century, Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA
Kashyapa, pupil of Buddha, gilded bronze, height 111cm, Ming dynasty, Chongzhen period (1628-1644), Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA
Ananda, pupil of Buddha, gilded bronze, height 111cm, Ming dynasty, Chongzhen period (1628-1644), Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA
Heavenly king, marble, height 122 cm, Tang dynasty, 9th to 10th century, Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA

Buddhism reached China in the 1st century CE. Buddhist sculpture was characterized in a number of phases by influences from India and central Asia. The period from the 6th to the 8th century, when new Indian influences reached China, is represented by two important marble sculptures of the Northern Qi dynasty (550–577). The influences of Greece and central Asia during the 7th and 8th centuries, with their Western-inspired emphasis on the three-dimensional body, are illustrated in the really quite rare limestone statue of the Daoist deity Laojun dating from the 7th century. From the 11th century, wooden sculptures with softer forms dominate; the Liao-period Bodhisattva Guanyin from the Ludwig collection is an outstanding example. The bronzes of the Buddha’s two favourite pupils, commissioned by the imperial court in the early 17th century, only came to be properly appreciated when the imperial inscription was discovered. To mark the centenary of the its foundation. in 2009 the museum acquired a finely-worked marble statue of a heavenly king in dynamic pose, one of the few surviving examples of these guardian gods responsible for protecting the Buddhist world.

Painting and calligraphy, and Ming and Qing-dynasty porcelain
Portrait of the general Mingliang, hanging scroll, ink and mineral pigments on silk, 91, 5 x 147, 5 cm, Qing dynasty, dated 1776, Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA
Lotus in the wind, hanging scroll, color and gold on silk, 140 x 90 cm, Yuan dynasty, 13th-14th century, Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA
Chrysanthemum, Bada Shanren (1626-1705), album sheet, ink on paper, 22,5 x 28,5 cm, Qing dynasty, 1692, Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA
Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322), letter addressed to the ministerial president Xuanwei, handscroll, ink on paper, 28 x 47 cm, Götze collection, Museum of East Asian Art Cologne © RBA

Our holdings of painting and calligraphy of the Song and Yuan dynasties (11th to 14th century) and the Ming and Qing dynasties (15th to early 20th century) give an insight into the aesthetic refinement of the scholar and civil-service elite. The literati ‘wrote’ their books with a brush. In their view, monochrome ink painting and calligraphy were closely related; the brushwork gave expression to the personality of the artist. The professional painters, by contrast, worked on commission; complaisant motifs, luminous colours and a realistic style were in demand not only at the imperial court but also among wealthy merchants. The collection of professional painting from the 16th to the 19th century has grown significantly thanks to the restoration of more than 30 paintings, a task which we entrusted to the Shanghai Museum in 2006.

Alongside painting and calligraphy, the category of objects traditionally collected at the imperial court and by the upper classes included pottery and porcelain. The imperial porcelain of the 18th century is well represented in our collection, including unique pieces from the Ludwig collection, such as the water-dropper in the shape of mushrooms of immortality, of which no other example is known. The museum’s porcelain collection illustrates the whole spectrum of decorative techniques from underglaze cobalt blue and copper red to the development of overglaze enamel paints.


Opening times

Tuesday to Sunday
11am – 5pm
Every first Thursday in the month
11am – 10pm 
Closed Mondays

Museum is closed on Carnival from February 20th until February 25th. Museum is also closed December 24th, Christmas Day (25 Dec), New Year's Eve (31 Dec) and New Year's Day (1 Jan). Museum is opend on Easter Monday and Whit Monday.

Admission prices

Permament Collection and "Drunk on Sobriety. Wine and Tea in Chinese Art": € 7,00 / € 4

KölnTag on the first Thursday of the month (except public holidays): free admission to the Permanent Collection and "Drunk on Sobriety" for all Cologne residents.

How to get here

Public transport: Tram routes 1 and 7 and bus route 142, alight at ‘Universitätsstrasse’
There is a car park at the museum


The museum is barrier-free. Disabled toilet available.


Kurs: Sho - Wochenendkurs
Sa, 25.04.2020, 14:30 Uhr

Führung: Wein und Tee in China
So, 26.04.2020, 12:00 Uhr

Kurs: Kunst zum Klingen bringen
Do, 30.04.2020, 14:30 Uhr

Kurs: Tag der Kinder in Japan
Sa, 02.05.2020, 14:00 Uhr

Führung: Wein und Tee in China
So, 03.05.2020, 12:00 Uhr


Museum für
Ostasiatische Kunst Köln
Universitätsstrasse 100
D 50674 Köln
Ticket office +49.221.221-28617
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