The Chinese collection mostly contains textiles, rubbings, and ceramics, totaling nearly 2,000 items.
The Chinese textiles date primarily from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They include blue and white folk embroideries in cotton, as well as a number of robes for the upper classes. Decorated with a large number of natural motifs, the silk clothing is representative of both men’s and women’s outfits, and includes coats, jackets, skirts, trousers, hats, and shoes.
The rubbings were made by Daniel S. Dye, a missionary to China during the first half of the twentieth century, and he used this material to write a book on Chinese lattice-work. The collection contains over four hundred rubbings of items from the Han, Tang, Song, and Qing Dynasties, as well as some pieces from the twentieth century. Bricks, inscriptions, calligraphy, and architectural decorative motifs of flora, figures, fauna, and geometric shapes form the basis of the collection. The most extensive set of rubbings derives from bricks of the Han Dynasty; the second most extensive part of the rubbing collection dates to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
The Chinese ceramics in the Denison collection date to the Han, Song, Ming, and Qing Dynasties, with objects from the mid to late Qing period being the most numerous. Ceramic types include wucai (five colored wares), blue and white, famille rose (decoration with an emphasis upon the color red or pink), famille verte (decoration with an emphasis upon the color green), monochrome wares, celadons, and stonewares.
Other parts of the collection include household items, money, jewelry, paintings, sculptural items, furniture, cloisonne, and puppets. These date from the second century BCE through the twentieth century, with most of the objects dated to the nineteenth century.