Silks from Kemp’s travels

Before Kemp died in 1939, she donated the chapel to Somerville. On her death, her collection of art was bequeathed to the Ashmolean museum. This included materials collected from her travels. Her book Wanderings in Chinese Turkestan (1914), describes being given gifts of silk by officials and buying silk in Yarkand – a town on the Silk Road in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China. Much of Kemp’s Ashmolean bequest is undocumented, but one of these silks has Kemp’s name tag in it (see below). I wonder if these articles are the ones she refers to in her writings.

Kemp’s journey through Chinese Turkestan began in 1912 in Leh (Ladakh, India). She climbed some of the highest mountain passes in the world and arrived in Yarkand during the festival of Eid al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan. At Yarkand, Kemp describes attending prayers at the Great Mosque.

Lasser Pass,  Karakoram Range

This painting by Kemp of the ‘Lasser Pass’ in the Karakoram range was exhibited at the Alpine Club, London. The passes were later traversed by Theodore and Kermit, sons of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

Silks bequeathed by E.G. Kemp, donor of Somerville College Chapel in the Ashmolean’s Eastern Art Print Room.

Kemp's bequest.

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‘Buddhism as a religion’ translated by E.G. Kemp, 1910

Somerville’s records show that Kemp translated a book on Buddhism. Until now, I have not been able to find a listing of this book. However in the library of Estlin Carpenter (former Principal of Harris Manchester College and scholar of comparative religion) I found ‘Buddhism as a Religion: its histroical development and its present conditions’ by H. Hackmann (1910). Although not mentioned by name, the author refers to the translator – ‘a lady who herself is personally acquainted with the Far East, having travelled in China twice for a considerable time’ (p.ix). Kemp refers to this volume elsewhere in her writings as a good reference book for further information about Buddhism.

Buddhist shrine by E. G. Kemp

A Buddhist shrine painted by E. G. Kemp at Yen-Tang Shan, China