Thomas Kelly, May 24th

May 24th (Fri), 4-6pm, Rm 153

Thomas Kelly
Ph.D. Student, University of Chicago

The Story of an Inscription:
Pan Zhiheng and the Connoisseurship of Huizhou Ink

This paper tells the story of an inscription composed for a brand of ink in the famous catalogue of ink-stick designs, Fangshi mopu (1588). My talk uses the inscription written by Pan Zhiheng (1556-1622), a prominent figure in the patronage and connoisseurship of Huizhou ink, to illustrate a series of larger points. First, I use Pan’s piece to consider the functions of text within the visual program of Fang Yulu’s catalogue and other late Ming collections of ink-stick designs by Pan Fangkai and Fang Ruisheng. Second, I examine how dedicatory texts composed for the Fangshi mopu relate to the inscriptional designs and branding on Fang Yulu’s actual ink products. Finally, I attend to some of the ways in which an inscription on ink comes to enact social relations between patrons and craftsmen and among groups of writers. In the course of the talk, I hope to underscore both the role of literati authors in the ink manufacturing business, and the growing influence of commercial publicity and visual advertising strategies on their writings. More generally, I suggest that by tracking the shifting relations between images and text and text and material objects in the marketing of Huizhou ink, we can begin to reconstruct a distinctly trans-medial poetics of inscription in the late Ming.



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