Presidential Gifts

Ornamental plate with dragon motif

The black and red lacquered plate is carved from wood and has an amazing plasticity. The motif shows two dragons moving around a flame burning in the centre of the scene. It can be found many times in the city of Nanjing, for example at the Confucius Temple near the Qinhuai River. Göttingen University has maintained relations with Nanjing since the 18th century. In 2012, the plate was donated to the President's Office.

Nanjing (China) / after 2011 / Inv. No. P 115

Model of the asteroid Šteins 

The asteroid Šteins is part of the asteroid main belt, which moves between the planets Mars and Jupiter. Šteins stands out because of its rather untypical elongated shape. Because the stone is very porous, it is assumed that the asteroid consists of a collection of different debris. The model of the asteroid Šteins was presented to the Presidium in 2012 by the Max Planck Institute of Solar System Research for the Festival of Lights. On 5 September 2008, the Rosetta space probe passed directly by Šteins. The asteroid has a size of about 5- 6.5 kilometres and the model thus to the original a scale of about 1: 1,600,000.

Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research / donated 2012 / Inv. No. P 105


The single elephant is a piece of fine Indian craftsmanship and protected from dust under the glass cover. The inside of the wooden figure is hollowed out and through the lattice structure a second, small elephant can be seen walking in the other direction.
The proverbial intelligence of elephants predestines them as partners of humans in construction. The intelligent work animals are used to transport tree trunks, as shown in the carving of the two elephants. One elephant pulls the cart with small chains, the other pushes it with its trunk. On the desk of the university president, the small sculpture takes on a tongue-in-cheek significance that goes beyond its function as a paperweight. 

Wooden elephant figure on a pedestal / India / Inv. No. P 046

Small wooden sculpture of two working elephants / India or Indonesia? / Inv. No. P 045

Drinking vessels

Two types of drinking vessels that could hardly be more different: The service consisting of a pot and four cups was presented to the Presidium for Christmas.

Small as doll's crockery, it is a miniature of a tea service and, as a gift, reflects the social significance of drinking ceremonies in the Asian tradition. The material is coloured tin of 99.9% purity, mined and processed with 300 years of tradition in Gejiu. In 2011, the Chinese trademark Banxilong ("Buntzinn Dragon") of the Banxi Arts and Crafts Company, which produced this tea service, was awarded the "China Famous Trademark".

In contrast to the dainty drinking vessel is a gift from Bolivia, they only share the material metal. The South American ornaments and the country name on the rather ordinary-looking drinking goblets initially irritate German viewers. In fact, however, such cups are an integral part of the distinct beer culture in Bolivia. It is conceivable that this is why they were chosen as a guest gift for a German university, but unfortunately there are no records of this. 

Tea service / Banxi Arts and Crafts Company / Gejiu, China / coloured tin 99.9% / donated 2017/18 / Inv. No. P 081 

Pewter cup set / Bolivia / Inv. No. P 047

Collection of Presidential Gifts

The collection of presidential gifts offers an insight into the institutional relationships that the University of Göttingen maintains with other universities and scientific institutions worldwide. These are often objects that exemplify the traditions or achievements of a region or culture. At the same time, the collection represents an international cross-section of material gift culture. Tableware, textiles and small sculptures are frequently represented. 

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