Introduction of Dr Yibin Ni

Dr Yibin Ni (倪亦斌), born in Shanghai, obtained MA and Ph.D. degrees at University College London. He spent many years teaching English linguistics in the Department of English and Chinese Art and Culture in the University Scholars Programme, National University of Singapore. Dr Ni later turned his attention to deciphering lost story scenes in Chinese art. He has successfully unlocked the iconography of many hitherto misunderstood scenes, allowing art lovers to appreciate numerous works of art, not only for their formal beauty, but for the deep meaning they embody as well. As a freelance writer and independent scholar, Dr Ni has produced numerous papers and books, primarily focused on sharing many wonderful stories that he has rediscovered.

Dr Ni has lectured widely in the United States institutions including Harvard, Yale, UCLA, University of Virginia, and Honolulu Academy of Arts, as well as in various universities, museums, and societies in Singapore, China and the UK.

Dr Ni has been the Chief Content Officer of Tutuhaoyi since 2020 and has contributed lots of his research findings and articles to this website so that the general public can access this online database and appreciate Chinese art. The unprecedented gathering of authentic choice exemplars in Figures & Stories, Motifs & Symbols and Pun Pictures sections have all been collected through original research from eminent museums and collections all over the world by Dr Yibin Ni. See more of his works in Blogs section.

More about Dr Yibin Ni

In 2008, Sir Michael Butler on the occasion of the exhibition catalogue of the exhibition of Porcelain of the Late Ming, wrote:

I first met Dr Ni about a decade ago, and in an unusual way. The former U.K. Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath, who used to live quite close to me in England, telephoned me one day and asked if I would show my porcelain to a brilliant young Chinese scholar from Shanghai whom he was befriending. I said I would be delighted and asked them to lunch, although I was a little nervous of how long Sir Edward himself would be interested in the porcelain as he was not famous for his patience! What would he do while we were looking at the pots? 

I need not have worried. After lunch he came and sat with us while we talked and did not show signs of wanting to make a move till after tea at 5pm. When he was leaving he said he never imagined there could be so many interesting things to say about porcelain. Yibin was already then interested in identifying the narrative scenes on C17th porcelain, a quest which he has pursued with extraordinary success. He has helped me by identifying many of the scenes on pieces in my Shunzhi Exhibition in 2002 and the Shanghai Exhibition in 2005 and again those in this catalogue. He has become the leading authority in the world on the subject, with an enormous database of pictures of the scenes and of the matching paintings and woodblock prints from which they are derived, as well as identifying ancient legends from the subject matter of the scenes. He is now very widely consulted. In my view he has made a major contribution to the study of the period and has hugely enlivened the entries in this and other catalogues. I value his contributions enormously, and could not be more grateful to him. We have met often in the last decade and had a lot of fun together. I treasure his friendship.”

— Sir Michael Butler, 2008


Treasures from an unknown reign: Shunzhi Porcelain Symposium

Dr Yibin Ni's lecture at Sotheby's New York, 2018


Sir Michael Butler and Dr Yibin Ni
Sir Michael Butler and Dr Yibin Ni
Photo at the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, 2002. From left to right: Sir Michael Butler, John Curtis, 白谦慎, 倪亦斌, Dominic Jellinek, Julia Curtis

Photo at the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, 2002

From left to right: Sir Michael Butler, John Curtis, Qianshen Bai, Yibin Ni, Dominic Jellinek, Julia Curtis