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Commemorating the Deceased: Chinese Literati Memorial Painting - A Case Study of Wu Li's "Remembering the Past at Xingfu Chapel" (1672)

Yao, Ning

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Despite an increasing amount of research on commemorative paintings, Chinese paintings by educated scholars to commemorate the deceased have rarely been studied. This dissertation provides a series of case studies of Chinese literati memorial paintings to explore their visual representations in social and religious contexts. It shows how, and why, the first literati memorial paintings appeared in the Wu (i.e. Suzhou) area in Jiangsu province by the end of the 15th century, and flourished in the late Ming and early Qing periods, when secret messages were encoded in visual representations, either due to fear of political punishment or for religious and personal reasons. A representative in-depth case study is the painting Remembering the Past at Xingfu Chapel (Xingfu an ganjiu tu) by the Christian painter Wu Li (1632-1718) in 1672 for his deceased Buddhist monk friend Morong (?-1671) for having a good Buddhist afterlife and a three-year-soul-journey. This case study identifies the symbolic meanings of visual images in the seemingly innocuous landscape painting and shows how secret messages were encoded in religious allusions. This dissertation uncovers a new and important genre in Chinese painting and reveals the intellectual and religious inner-world of scholars and painters in the Ming and Early Qing China.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Ledderose, Prof. Dr. Lothar
Date of thesis defense: 22 June 2013
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2013 13:23
Date: 2013
Faculties / Institutes: Philosophische Fakultät > Institut für Kunstgeschichte Ostasiens
Subjects: 750 Painting and paintings
950 General history of Asia Far East
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