Reshaping Chinese Material Culture

Overview

This dissertation investigates the transformation in material culture during the Song dynasty (960--1279). It argues that the all-encompassing, metropolitan style of the Tang (618--907) arts was replaced with a retrospective aesthetic that was inspired by bronzes of China's high antiquity. The antiquarian trend, first advocated by scholar-officials in the court, was a branch of their cultural enterprise. Its goal was to restore Chinese culture to its prime state of antiquity in response to the foreign, barbarian ...
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Overview

This dissertation investigates the transformation in material culture during the Song dynasty (960--1279). It argues that the all-encompassing, metropolitan style of the Tang (618--907) arts was replaced with a retrospective aesthetic that was inspired by bronzes of China's high antiquity. The antiquarian trend, first advocated by scholar-officials in the court, was a branch of their cultural enterprise. Its goal was to restore Chinese culture to its prime state of antiquity in response to the foreign, barbarian military challenges that threatened the Song Empire. As factional hostilities mounted in emperor Huizong's (r. 1101--1125) court, antiquities became one of the weapons by which Huizong and his high officials fought their opponents. This political conflict gave rise to antiquarianism in the mid eleventh century and fueled its later development, causing dramatic changes in ritual objects and fine porcelains in Huizong's court. During the Southern Song (1127--1279), through the mediation of antiquarian catalogues, this cultural ideal spread beyond the court to wider audiences and had an immense impact on material culture. Illustrated with images of ancient bronzes and bronze inscriptions, catalogues by Northern Song antiquarians were epitomes of their scholarly accomplishments. After put into print, they further assumed the role of the mass media, spreading images of antiquities in a variety of forms. In addition, the printed catalogues also served as a kind of pattern book, from which ancient forms could be chosen and reworked to create archaic-looking objects. The direction of influence, however, was not one way. As archaism permeated the material world, features of recreated archaic objects were fused into catalogues during later re-cutting and reprinting. Contextual analysis further suggests that the appropriation of ancient bronze forms in the Southern Song moved beyond a formal borrowing to codify serious intents of their owners and their reactions to the cultural tradition they chose to inherit.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781243795014
  • Publisher: BiblioLabsII
  • Publication date: 9/9/2011
  • Pages: 74
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.15 (d)

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