Huiping Pang, Nov. 16

4:30pm at CWAC 156.


Title: A Garden Painting during the Bloody Donglin Purge ca. 1625-1627


Abstract: Significant research in recent decades illuminates how officials in Ming imperial China (1368–1664) climbed the social ladder through collegial garden festivities, and how garden paintings, ​as ​commemorative byproducts of these gatherings, integrate natural beauty and political harmony. This paper expands upon existing scholarship by exploring a different type of garden painting, one that portrays properties constructed during the imperial massacre of 1625–1627. In an era scarred by blood, factional struggles, and eunuch persecutions against Donglin Academy members, gardens owned and named by Donglin sympathizers covertly broadcast camouflaged political messages. This paper uses the garden painting for Chen Jiru as a case study to show that some late-Ming gardens served as private refuges from political murders, as well as protests against imperial violence targeting Donglin scholars.


Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Dongshan Zhang at

(This event is sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies of University of Chicago)

Best Regards,


Yukio Lippit, Nov. 9

November 9. 4:30pm at CWAC 156.


Title: “Mokuan’s Four Sleepers: The Ultimate Zen Painting.”


Abstract: The twelfth through fourteenth centuries witnessed a flourishing Chan/Zen macroculture that spanned the China Sea in all directions and witnessed thousands of Japanese monks travel to monastic centers in the Jiangnan region for study and training. The legacy of the monk-painters that emerged within this interregional sphere are preserved in scores of ink paintings in Japanese collections. This lecture does a deep dive into the artistry of the Zen monk-painter through a reading of Mokuan Reien’s The Four Sleepers (Shisui zu 四睡図), one of the most celebrated works of its kind. Mokuan’s painting showcases several of the unique ways in which Zen painting developed subject matter, appropriated folkloric visual culture, paired words and images in complementary (or more often contradictory) ways, and positioned itself in mutualism to literati painting.

(This program is sponsored by the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies)


Yoon-Jee Choi, Oct. 5

“The Voyage of the Soy Sauce Bottle: The Material Culture of Comprador Bottles.”

This paper explores the unique white porcelain bottle, namely “Comprador Bottle”(コンプラ瓶), manufactured in nearby Hasami(波佐見) region.  The vessel owns two lines of layers at the neck, an angled-shoulder, and a heavy bottom in general. Above all, the written letters of “JAPANSCHZOYA” or “JAPANSCHZAKY” in cobalt blue manifests the purpose of the bottle – carrying soy sauce or Japanese sake to the European continent. It is noteworthy that the Japanese contrived this container solely to export their traditional condiment to the west, whereas they continued to use wooden barrels domestically. While comprador bottles have only been briefly mentioned as an exemplar of the product of Nanban trade(南蛮貿易) in Nagasaki(長崎), Japan, no individual studies on comprador bottles have been conducted until now. Revolving around the distinctive appearance and its materiality, this paper aims to examine the material culture of comprador bottles.  First of all, I would like to discuss the motivations behind the invention of the comprador bottle itself based on the combination of external demands for exotic spice and domestic craze for foreign glass objects during the period. Next, elaborations on why ceramic was chosen to be the most favorable base material and the factors that contributed to the completion of the comprador bottle prototype will illuminate on the most unknown aspects. Along with the background of food and hygiene history during the Edo period (1603-1868), this paper hopes to shed light on this peculiar vessel.  

Fall 2018 Schedule

Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia is proud to present our schedule for Fall 2018


All sessions unless otherwise noted will take place on Fridays 4:30-6:30pm in the Cochrane-Woods Art Center (CWAC) Room 156



October 5, Yoon-Jee Choi, Ph. D Student

Department of Art History, University of Chicago

“The Voyage of the Soy Sauce Bottle: The Material Culture of Comprador Bottles.”


November 9, Yukio Lippit, Professor of History of Art and Architecture Japanese Art,

Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

“The Ultimate Zen Painting: Mokuan’s Four Sleepers.”


November 16, Huiping Pang, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoc Fellow

Department of Asian Art, The Art Institute of Chicago

“A Garden-Painting during the Bloody Donglin Purge ca. 1625-1627.”

(Location TBD)


December 7, Alice Casalini, Ph. D Student

Department of Art History, University of Chicago

“Framing Gandhāran Art: Space Construction in Narrative Reliefs.”


We look forward to your attendance and hope you will share this with all who might also be interested in joining our community. Please direct questions and inquiries to Dongshan Zhang at

May 31, Yunfei Shao

Thursday, May 31,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 156

Tourist Guide at Hand and on Display: Producing “Route Maps” of West Lake in late Imperial China

Yunfei Shao
Department of Art History, University of Chicago

This paper examines a unique type of images of West Lake (Xihu) produced for tourists during the Ming-Qing period. In this paper, I will propose that this format of depicting West Lake could function as route maps for both virtual and actual touring. Before the emergence of this type of images, West Lake was represented in two main formats: the Ten Scenes and the Map-like formats. With the tourist boom in mid-to-late Ming Dynasty and the imperial tours of Qing emperors, this new format took shape and developed into a third major prototype in representing West Lake. Several distinct features make this format stand out as a unique case in landscape painting. First, the conversion from oval-shaped lake to long horizontal handscroll presents an example of how the constantly changing perspective transforms what is seen to what is depicted; second, the positive correlation between the proportioned length of each section in the scroll to that of actual site suggest an intention to mimic real life journey; third, the starting points and destinations within these “map-like” scrolls demonstrate a curated route designed for specific groups of tourists.

Thursday, May 31,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (

May 25, Jue Hou

Friday, May 25,  4:30 – 6:30 pm, CWAC 156

Skin Deep: Corporeography from Kafka to Qiu Zhijie

Jue Hou
Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago

(Left) Martin Senn, Franz Kafka: Der Eigentümliche Apparataus der Erzählung “In der Strafkolonie.” [Franz Kafka: The Peculiar Apparatus from the Story “In the Penal Colony.”]
(Right) Qiu Zhijie, 紋身2 [Tattoo II]

A comparative study of corporeal inscriptions, this paper interrogates the intersection of language, death, and the surface/depth of the body. Taking as my departure a recent medical case in which an unconscious patient’s tattooed request to withhold emergency care has spurred much debate, I intend to approach bodily writings as sites where language, communication, and mortality conjoin and contest with each other. Revisiting the famous debate between Jacques Derrida and John Searle over the nature of the signature, I shall seek to explore the materiality of writing through engaging a variety of texts and works of art, including Paul de Man’s writing on Wordsworth’s reflections upon epitaphs, Franz Kafka’s short story, “In the Penal Colony,” as well as representations of the skin in works of contemporary Chinese art such as Xu Bing’s A Case Study of Transference 一個轉換案例的研究, Zhang Huan’s Family Tree 家譜, and Qiu Zhijie’s Tattoo series 紋身系列. What is defacement? What can/do tattoos do? What are the limitations of the mind/body dualism, conceived through a phenomenology of the marked skin? What do corporeographies, understood as a kind of border writing that inhabits the fleshy interface, tell us about the surface/depth model of subjectivity? These are among questions I seek to address.

Friday, May 25,  4:30 – 6:30 pm, CWAC 156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (

May 17, Wei Jianpeng

Thursday, May 17,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 156

Please note: This workshop will be conducted in Chinese

敦煌维摩诘经变的结构性演变 [Structural Evolution of Vimalakirti Sutra Illustration in Dunhuang]

魏健鹏,四川大学考古系博士生,2017-2018 学年东亚艺术中心访问学生
Wei Jianpeng, Doctoral student, Department of Archaeology, Sichuan University | Visiting student, Center for the Art of East Asia, University of Chicago


Thursday, May 17,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (

May 10, Yin WU

Thursday, May 10,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 156

Materiality, Text, and Image in the Chinese Version of The Rules for Reciting the Rosary (Song nianzhu guicheng)

Yin WU 
Department of Art History, University of Chicago

“The Annunciation,” an image from Rules for Reciting the Rosary (Song nianzhu guicheng 诵念珠规程), The Getty Research Institute.

This paper examines an illustrated manual entitled Song nianzhu guicheng 诵念珠规程 (Rules for Reciting the Rosary, hereafter referred to as Guicheng), published in Nanjing, China in 1619. The Chinese version was translated by Portuguese Jesuit João da Rocha (1583-1623) from Rosary. Instead of simply transplanting a Western book, it reveals a transformation at the point of convergence between Western religion, values, traditions, and Chinese formulas for book printing. Most previous studies focus on its fusion of Western artistic style and Chinese pictorial conventions, often looking at images individually. This paper will demonstrate multiple-layers of transformation, including its materiality, format, reading procedure, text and image. Studying the book as a whole, this paper will reveal the missionaries’ meticulous considerations of how a Western religious book can be transformed and reinvented into a Chinese book that is understandable and functional to Chinese converts.

Thursday, May 10,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (

May 1, Corey Byrnes

Tuesday, May 1,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 157  (Please note the special time, location, and format)

Defining the Chinese Landscape of Desolation in Teaching and Research

Corey Byrnes
Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese Literature in the Asian Languages and Cultures Department, Northwestern University

Discussant: Pao-chen Tang, PhD Student, Cinema and Media Studies
Co-sponsored with the Art & Politics of East Asia Workshop

Duan Jianyu, Beautiful Dream #7, 2008

VMPEA and APEA is pleased to present this special session, which will follow a unique format. Professor Byrnes will present an essay in progress as well as two related syllabi. These materials are pre-circulated in the link included here or below.  The workshop discussion will be an opportunity not only to offer feedback on the essay, but also to address the challenges of combining research and teaching and designing a syllabus based upon one’s research interests. We will be providing catered dinner. The abstract is as follows:

This joint APEA-VMPEA workshop will center on three related documents: an essay in progress entitled “Landscapes of Desolation” and two syllabi for a course with the same name. The essay is part of a broader attempt to reconsider the role of landscape and “tradition” in the context of environmentally conscious visual and literary culture representing Mainland China (mostly). In general, I am interested in how landscape has come to function as both a privileged way to represent environmental problems in China and also a practical ecocritical mode designed to move people and change behaviors. More specifically, in this essay I consider how specific art historical and cultural influences are used in three interconnected “modes” (the documentary, the trompe l’oeil and the fantastical) of what I am calling the “landscape of desolation” to support this practical ecocritical function. The essay extends some of the ideas I explore in my forthcoming book, Fixing Landscape: A Techno-Poetic History of China’s Three Gorges (Columbia, December 2018), but it emerges more directly from my experiences teaching an upper division seminar on literary and visual responses to environmental degradation in China and Taiwan. For the seminar meeting, I look forward to discussing both the article and also my experience in moving between teaching and researching. As you will see, there is significant overlap between the course materials and the primary and secondary sources I use in the article. The earliest version of this article predates these courses, though the current version really emerged out of my experiences teaching this seminar in the winter of 2016 and again in the winter of 2018.

The paper is available directly below, or at this link. If you have not received the password, or have questions about accessibility, please feel free to contact Nancy P. Lin (

This event is sponsored by the Committee on Chinese Studies at the Center for East Asian Studies

Tuesday, May 1,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 157

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (