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Theater of the dead. A social turn in Chinese funerary art, 1000-1400.

Author: Jeehee Hong
Publisher: Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 2016.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
In eleventh-century China, both the living and the dead were treated to theatrical spectacles. Chambers designed for the deceased were ornamented with actors and theaters sculpted in stone, molded in clay, rendered in paint. Notably, the tombs were not commissioned for the scholars and officials who dominate the historical record of China but affluent farmers, merchants, clerics-people whose lives and deaths largely  Read more...
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Details

Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Jeehee Hong
ISBN: 9780824855376 082485537X
OCLC Number: 961212469
Description: 272 pages
Responsibility: Jeehee Hong.

Abstract:

In eleventh-century China, both the living and the dead were treated to theatrical spectacles. Chambers designed for the deceased were ornamented with actors and theaters sculpted in stone, molded in clay, rendered in paint. Notably, the tombs were not commissioned for the scholars and officials who dominate the historical record of China but affluent farmers, merchants, clerics-people whose lives and deaths largely went unrecorded. Why did these elites furnish their burial chambers with vivid representations of actors and theatrical performances? Why did they pursue such distinctive tomb-making? In 'Theater of the Dead', Jeehee Hong maintains that the production and placement of these tomb images shed light on complex intersections of the visual, mortuary, and everyday worlds of China at the dawn of the second millennium. Assembling recent archaeological evidence and previously overlooked historical sources, Hong explores new elements in the cultural and religious lives of middle-period Chinese. Rather than treat theatrical tomb images as visual documents of early theater, she calls attention to two largely ignored and interlinked aspects: their complex visual forms and their symbolic roles in the mortuary context in which they were created and used.

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By establishing the interplay of various dimensions of funerary art, Hong provides us with an interesting underworld. Literary, architectural, and religious studies are all utilized, making Hong 's Read more...

 
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