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Yiping Qian

Research project

Title: Chinese Porcelain, Building Environments and the Construction of Symbolic Meaning in Medieval Swahili Material Culture

Supervisors: Prof. Stephanie Wynne-Jones

Funding: East China Normal University Graduate Students' Study Abroad Visit Grants (Category C)

Abstract: From the ninth century onwards, Chinese porcelain circulated to East Africa through the Indian Ocean trade network, followed by a culture borrowing phenomena in the Swahili coast that combined Chinese material culture with Arab religious culture. Those porcelain were used to link the past with the present, the local with the overseas, and as part of the 'grand tradition' of the elite aristocracy, displaying a cross-cultural characteristic that reflected pre-modern Afro-Asian connections. The changing use of ancient Chinese porcelain in East Africa is linked to the traders, religious heretics and political refugees from Persia and Arabia, and the change of migrant groups has led to a period change in porcelain decoration. Meanwhile, Swahili people take the African initiative develop a lifestyle and symbolic system linking coral stone buildings, cities and civilizations.  Explaining the development of Swahili civilization has also led to a debate between exogenous and indigenous origins with the help of ancient Chinese porcelain, and an interdisciplinary perspective can provide a more comprehensive understanding of this period of East African history.

Sep 2018 to June 2021  East China Normal University World History Master 
July 2019 to July 2020 University of Dar es Salaam African History Joint Master Student
Sep 2021 to Present   East China Normal University World History PhD candidate
Oct 2023 to Present University of York Archaeology Research Student


1. Qian Yiping, The Whole Story of Zhang Jian with Modern Jiangsu Education Association, Journal of Jiangsu College of Engineering and Technology, Vol.19, No.1 (2019), pp.18-24.
2. Gao Tianyi, Qian Yiping, Rethinking the Division of Sino-Africa Relations from 1949-1976, Journal of History and Chorography, Vol.33 No.3 (2020), pp.30-42.
3. Qian Yiping, Tippu Tip and East African Slave Trade, Master's thesis, East China Normal University, 2021.
4. Qian Yiping, Deconstructing Western Colonial Discourse and the Portrayal of the Other Under the Overall Hegemony of Empire: Take Tippu Tip’s Figure of Disenchantment as an Example, Arab Studies, Vol.11, No.1 (2021), pp.102-119.
5. Qian Yiping, Review of the International Seminar on Sino-Tanzania Cooperation and the Development of China-Africa Relations, In Mu Tao (Ed.), Daxia Studies in World History: an Anthology of African Workstations, Beijing: Oriental Press (2022), pp.281-282.
6. Qian Yiping, A study on the Cultural Borrowing Phenomenon of Ancient Chinese Porcelain in the East African Coast, In Li Anshan (Ed.), The Fortieth Anniversary of the Chinese Society of African Historical Studies, Wuhan: Hubei Science and Technology Press (2023), pp.38-56.
7. Qian Yiping, Emergence, Development, Impact: A Study of the History of the King's African Rifles (1902-1960), The South Historical Studies, Vol.1, No.1, To be published in 2023.
8. Qian Yiping, Cultural Heritage Conservation and African Modernity: The Case of Modern Tourism Development in Zanzibar, Creative City Journal, Vol.166, No.2 (2023), pp.42-50.
9.Qian Yiping, Construction of Autonomous Knowledge System and High-Quality Development of Academic Journals, Problems in the Teaching of History, Vol., No.6 (2023), To be published. 
10. Qian Yiping, Emergence, Development, Impact: A Study of the History of the King's African Rifles (1902-1960), The South Historical Studies, Vol.1, No.1, To be published in 2024.

profile photo of Yiping Qian

Contact details

Qian Yiping
Department of Archaeology
University of York
Kings Manor