Prof. Kim, June 14, 4-6pm

June 14 (Fri), 4-6pm, CWAC 153

Professor Sunglim Kim
Dartmouth College

“Flowering Plums: How the Jungin Helped Cultivate Consumer Culture in the Late Joseon Dynasty”

In Korea, the 18th and 19th centuries, the Late Joseon period, saw the rise of a new and increasingly wealthy class of “technocrats” called the jungin, who were the economic beneficiaries of regular tributary missions between China and Korea. The jungin (literally meaning “middle people”), politically marginalized yet educated and culturally “globalized,” poured their wealth and aesthetic desires into representing themselves through material consumption. This lecture explores four developments that characterize this dynamic time in Korean history. First we will see how the jungin’s economic ascendance derived from their special skills, their geographical access to China, their economic privileges, and their location in Seoul. Second, in a major cultural shift, the material consumption of the jungin class was a key ingredient in undermining the traditional Confucian values of material modesty and sensual restraint. Third, this new consumerism was reflected in the art world: art became a commodity, the retail market influenced artistic styles, and the jungin facilitated the art market as producers, middlemen, and consumers. Finally, we will examine how jungin intellectuals attempted to create a unique group identity through the symbolic imagery of flowering plums.


Sponsored by Committee on Korean Studies, the University of Chicago. This is the last meeting of this academic year.

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CHU Xin褚馨, June 7 (Fri), 4-6pm

June 7 (Fri), 4-6pm, CWAC 153

CHU Xin褚馨
Assistant Professor, Fudan University, China

How Jades Survived Through Han to Tang Dynasty”

 This talk will be conducted in Chinese.




Sponsored by Confucius Institute, the University of Chicago

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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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Seunghye Lee: May 17, 4-6pm

May 17th (Fri), 4-6pm, Rm 153

Seunghye Lee
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Chicago

Representing the Invisible: The Making of the Iconic Body in Medieval Chinese and Korean Buddhist Art

Buddhist across East Asia put things inside images over the centuries. Various contents of and ways of placing them inside images allow us to examine conceptions of the divine body, which are not readily visible on the surface of images or written accounts of images. In this talk I intend to ask several questions: How did the practice of placing things inside Buddhist images develop in medieval China and Korea? What can we learn when we shift our gaze from the visible surface of images to the unseen interior? What do these concealed stuffs reveal conceptions of the iconic body in medieval Sinitic Buddhist visual culture? The first part of this talk traces out larger trajectories of the two modes of placing objects inside Chinese images with a focus on the Seiryŏji Buddha image, made in Taizhou in 985. I suggest that the combined deposit of relics and mock organs inside the Seiryŏji Buddha image was deeply rooted in the heightened awareness of corporeality—a cultural phenomena that had appeared from the eighth century onward. I further examine the ways in which the relics and mock organs were correlated with each other. The second part turns to the examination of how the placement of objects inside images was transmitted and manifested in Korean kingdom of Koryŏ (918-1392). Investigation of relevant materials not only highlights distinctive Korean features that characterized the practice of pokchang (literally meaning things hidden inside the belly), but places it within the larger context of the Buddhist enshrinement practice in East Asia. It further reveals that Koryŏ Buddhist considered the inner body of the icon as part of a larger cosmic order. The iconic body was imagined to be at once a microcosm of and a storehouse of the Buddha’s power embodied in the objects empowered during the abhiṣeka ritual.



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Professor Zheng Yan: May 3rd, 4-6pm


May 3rd (Fri), 4-6pm, Rm 153

Professor Zheng Yan 郑岩
Central Academy of Fine Arts (China) and Harvard University

 “The Setting Sun: Scrutinizing the Murals in the Yuan Dynasty Tomb at Hongyu Village, Xing County, Shanxi Province”

 * This talk will be conducted in Chinese.


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Zhang Xi April 19 (fri), 4-6pm

April 19 (fri), 4-6pm, CWAC 153


Zhang Xi

PhD Student, University of Chicago




Please see enclosed file for her abstract.



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Michelle C. Wang, Mar 1


MARCH 1 (Fri), 4-6pm, CWAC 156


Michelle C. Wang

Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Art History

Georgetown University



“Getting at the Center of the Maṇḍala of Eight Bodhisattvas”


The Maṇḍala of Eight Bodhisattvas, an iconographic grouping consisting of eight bodhisattvas arranged around a central Buddha, is known as early in visual sources as the 6th century in India.  Spread widely throughout Asia, most previous studies of the Maṇḍala of Eight Bodhisattvas have focused upon the identification of the eight bodhisattvas arranged around the central Buddha figure.  My concern, however, lies with the identification of the central Buddha, which may range from the historical Buddha Śākyamuni to the cosmic Buddha Vairocana to Amitābha Buddha of the Western Pure Land.  Focusing principally upon paintings from Dunhuang, particularly from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), my talk will also take into consideration corresponding material from elsewhere in Asia in order to question why there was such variation in the central Buddha of the Maṇḍala of Eight Bodhisattvas, and what the implications are for focusing our attention upon the center of the maṇḍala rather than on the attendant figures.



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Tingting Xu, Feb 15, 4-6pm


Feb 15 (fri), 4-6pm, CWAC 156


Tingting Xu

PhD Student, University of Chicago


“Seen, Imagined & Fabricated: American Stereographs of the 1900 Boxer Rebellion”

The 1900 anti-foreign Boxer Rebellion led by the Chinese “Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists” coincided with the flourishing of stereography in the United States. The siege of 2,000 foreigners in the Legation Quarter of Peking had turned a local uprising into the most significant international event in the second half of the year. American stereoview companies, with their keen sense for global hot topics, paid an industry-wide attention to domestic public’s hunger for information about Peking’s crisis. Problematically, amongst the hundreds of stereoview cards produced by American companies on Chinese Boxers and related events between the year 1900 and 1902, discrepancies between images and their captions appear everywhere. The pictures were carefully selected, edited and interpreted. Many titles were consciously distorted from the reality. ──What is the nature of these photographs? To answer this question, I try to discover the real time and true environments in which the pictures were taken, and to analyze the individual reflections, cultural and political thoughts of the photographers and publishers. The conclusion is that Boxer stereographs were dominated by educative and entertaining purposes. They were by no means faithfully visual records, but image-text entities engaged in interpretation and fabrication. Extensively circulated in American living rooms, they helped to form the general public’s knowledge of the remote Rebellion in China. Though stereograph industry began to step down in the 1930s, the pictures didn’t stop circulating. Constantly reprinted by different book publishers around mid 20th century, they have become a collection of conceptualized scenes and portraits of Chinese civilization, which is still alive in contemporary context.

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Aurelia Campbell, Feb 1 (Fri), 4-6pm


Feb 1 (Fri), 2013, 4:00-6:00, CWAC 156


Aurelia Campbell

ACM-Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Lake Forest College


“Reexamining Yongle’s Architectural Legacy”


Historical scholarship closely aligns Emperor Yongle (r. 1402-24) with his greatest architectural achievement, the Forbidden City in Beijing. Scholars have also examined the dazzling porcelain pagoda that Yongle constructed at Bao’ensi in Nanjing to honor his late father and putative mother, which unfortunately no longer survives. This paper will draw attention to the creation of several other important, but lesser known, architectural projects with which Yongle was intimately involved. These include the Tibetan Buddhist monastery Qutansi at the Sino-Tibetan frontier, the Daoist architectural complex on Mt. Wudang in central China, and the massive Diamond-seat pagoda at Zhenjuesi in Beijing. By examining these monuments together, I will demonstrate the great extent to which architectural patronage figured into Yongle’s personal and political life and helped contribute to his extraordinary cultural legacy, both in and outside of the Ming capitals. More broadly, I will introduce some characteristics of the official Ming court architectural style that are embodied in these buildings.



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Anne Feng, Jan 25, 4-6pm


Jan 25 (Fri), 2013, 4:00-6:00, CWAC 156


Anne Feng

PhD Student, the University of Chicago


“Reflections on a Lotus Pond: A Case Study of the Cave 171, Mogao, Dunhuang”


The so-called “Pure Land Cave” of Cave 171 from the High Tang Period is highly unique in two aspects. Firstly, it is the only cave at Dunhuang that has the Visualization Sutra illustrated three times in a single cave, each covering the entire surface of the north, south and east walls. Secondly, it contains an “Amitabha and Fifty Bodhisattvas” motif that only occurs in Dunhuang three times. Visualization Sutra paintings have normally been understood through the Visualization Sutra itself, while the “Amitabha and Fifty Bodhisattvas” motif have only been discussed as an illustration of the Western Pure Land. Thus, in order to unpack the logic of Cave 171’s design, this paper considers the cave’s own pictorial program prior to the various sutras and commentaries such images refer to, and take into consideration the religious, ritual and artistic contexts of the Dunhuang cave beyond Pure Land doctrine and practice. Firstly, in terms of the mirror/doorway analogy in Buddhist visuality, I demonstrate that the cave interior is conceptualized as the pond of the Western Pure Land. Secondly, I analyze the “Amitabha and Fifty Bodhisattvas” motif from Dunhuang and other sites to draw a connection between this particular image and the monastic headquarters of Sanjie Buddhism in Chang’an, in which this compelling image is understood as an auspicious dream vision related Huadu Monastery. Thirdly, while pertaining a critical reading of contemporary Pure Land and Sanjie writings, I argue that the “Amitabha and Fifty Bodhisattvas” was placed among the three Visualization Sutra paintings in Cave 171 in order to enhance the efficacy of the Sutra paintings and the rituals associated with them.



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