Shi Jie, Jan 11 (Fri), 4-6pm


Jan 11 (Fri), 2013, 4:00-6:00, CWAC 156


Jie Shi

PhD Candidate, the University of Chicago


“The Encompassing Eyes in Han China: Female Frontal Views in the Wu Family Shrines”



The so-called pavilion scene in the bas-reliefs from the renowned Wu family shrines at Jiaxiang in the Shandong province in eastern China, dating from mid-2nd century CE, contains one of the earliest renditions of female frontal view in Chinese art. On second floor of the central pavilion the central female figure sits (or stands) in full frontal view and appears totally indifferent to their attendants on both sides. Previously scholars who mistook this lady for a deity took the frontal view for granted without asking the question why she was never rendered in other views. This paper argues that this elevated female figure, who is in fact the hostess of the shrine, commands an encompassing view into the space not only within the pavilion scene but also beyond it in a lost architectural and ritual context. In doing so, this paper scrutinizes the basic composition of the pavilion scene in the light of old and new archaeological discoveries and contemporaneous textual evidence of similar viewing motifs, to reveal the concealed Han eyes that escaped our attention for so long.

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