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Li Zehou (b. 1930) has been an influential thinker in China since the 1950s. Before moving to the U.S. in the wake of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, Li published works on Kant and traditional and contemporary Chinese philosophy. The present volume, a translation of his Huaxia meixue (1989), is considered among Li’s most significant works. Apart from its value as an introduction to the philosophy of one of contemporary China’s foremost intellectuals, The Chinese Aesthetic Tradition fills an important gap in the literature of Chinese aesthetics in English. It presents Li’s synthesis of the entire trajectory of Chinese aesthetic thought, from ancient times to the early modern period, incorporating pre-Confucian and Confucian ideas, Daoism, Chan Buddhism, and the influence of Western philosophy during the late-imperial period. As one of China’s As one of China's major contemporary philosophers and preeminent authority on Kant, Li is uniquely positioned to observe this trajectory and make it intelligible to today’s readers.
The Chinese Aesthetic Tradition touches on all areas of artistic activity, including poetry, painting, calligraphy, architecture, and the "art of living." Right government, the ideal human being, and the path to spiritual transcendence all come under the provenance of aesthetic thought. According to Li this was the case from early Confucian explanations of poetry as that which gives expression to intent, through Zhuangzi’s artistic depictions of the ideal personality who discerns the natural way of things and lives according to it, to Chan Buddhist-inspired notions that nature and words can come together to yield insight and enlightenment. In this enduring and stimulating work, Li demonstrates conclusively the fundamental role of aesthetics in the development of the cultural and psychological structures in Chinese culture that define "humanity."
The Ordering of Literature, the Arts, and the Universe in the Six Dynasties
This singular work presents the most comprehensive and nuanced studies available in any Western language of Chinese aesthetic thought and practice during the Six Dynasties (A.D. 220–589). Despite a succession of dynastic and social upheavals, the literati preoccupied themselves with both the sensuous and the transcendent and strove for cultural dominance. By the end of the sixth century, their reflections would evolve into a sophisticated system of aesthetic discourse characterized by its own rhetoric and concepts. A prologue details the historical context in which Six Dynasties aesthetics arose and sketches out its major stages of development. The ten essays that follow bring fresh perspectives to bear on important writings on literature, music, painting, calligraphy, and gardening. Grounded in close readings of primary texts, they reveal the complex, dynamic interplay between life and art, the sensuous and the metaphysical, and the artistic and the philosophicaleligious that lies at the heart of the aesthetic thought and practice of the time. As a whole, the collection demonstrates that Six Dynasties achieved a sophistication in aesthetic thought comparable in many ways to that of the West: The discussion of disinterestedness in art, aesthetic judgment, and how mental images mediate between the supersensible and the sensible are reminiscent of Kant. The findings of various Chinese critics provide much food for thought in the broad fields of comparative literature and aesthetics. Chinese Aesthetics will fill a gap in Western sinological studies of the period. It will appeal to scholars and students in premodern Chinese literary studies, comparative aesthetics, and cultural studies and be a welcome reference to anyone interested in ancient Chinese culture.
Song Culture in the Yingzao Fashi Building Manual
Investigating the historical tradition of Chinese architectural writing from antiquity to the twelfth century, Architecture and Metaphor reveals significant and fascinating social and cultural phenomena in the most important primary text for the study of the Chinese building tradition. Unlike previous scholarship, which has reviewed this imperially commissioned architectural manual largely as a technical work, this volume considers the Yingzao Fashi’s unique literary value and explores the rich cultural implications in and behind its technical content.
Utilizing a philological approach, the author pays particular attention to the traditional and contemporary architectural terminology presented in the Yingzao Fashi. In examining the semantic meaning of the architectural terms used in the manual, he uncovers a systematic architectural metaphor wherein bracketing elements are likened to flowers, flowering branches, and foliage: Thus pillars with bracketing above are compared to blossoming trees. More importantly, this intriguing imagery was shared by different social groups, in particular craftsmen and literati, and craftsmen themselves employed literary knowledge in naming architectural elements. Relating these phenomena to the unprecedented flourishing of literature, the literati’s greater admiration of technical knowledge, and the higher intellectual capacity of craftsmen during the Song, Architecture and Metaphor demonstrates how the learned and “unlearned” cultures entangled in the construction of architectural knowledge in premodern China. It convincingly shows that technical language served as a faithful carrier of contemporary popular culture and aesthetic concepts.
Architecture and Metaphor demonstrates a high level of engagement with a broad spectrum of sophisticated Chinese sources. It will become a classic work for all students and scholars of East Asian architecture.
In the early twentieth century, Chinese traditional architecture and the French-derived methods of the École des Beaux-Arts converged in the United States when Chinese students were given scholarships to train as architects at American universities whose design curricula were dominated by Beaux-Arts methods. Upon their return home in the 1920s and 1930s, these graduates began to practice architecture and create China’s first architectural schools, often transferring a version of what they had learned in the U.S. to Chinese situations. The resulting complex series of design-related transplantations had major implications for China between 1911 and 1949, as it simultaneously underwent cataclysmic social, economic, and political changes. After 1949 and the founding of the People’s Republic, China experienced a radically different wave of influence from the Beaux-Arts through advisors from the Soviet Union who, first under Stalin and later Khrushchev, brought Beaux-Arts ideals in the guise of socialist progress. In the early twenty-first century, China is still feeling the effects of these events.
Chinese Architecture and the Beaux-Arts examines the coalescing of the two major architectural systems, placing significant shifts in architectural theory and practice in China within relevant, contemporary, cultural, and educational contexts. Fifteen major scholars from around the world analyze and synthesize these crucial events to shed light on the dramatic architectural and urban changes occurring in China today—many of which have global ramifications.
This stimulating and generously illustrated work is divided into three sections, framed by an introduction and a postscript. The first focuses on the convergence of Chinese architecture and the École des Beaux-Arts, outlining the salient aspects of each and suggesting how and why the two "met" in the U.S. The second section centers on the question of how Chinese architects were influenced by the Beaux-Arts and how Chinese architecture was changed as a result. The third takes an even closer look at the Beaux-Arts influence, addressing how innovative practices, new schools of architecture, and buildings whose designs were linked to Beaux-Arts assumptions led to distinctive new paradigms that were rooted in a changing China. By virtue of its scope, scale, and scholarship, this volume promises to become a classic in the fields of Chinese and Western architectural history.
A Philosophical Translation of the <i>Xiaojing</i>
Few if any philosophical schools have championed family values as persistently as the early Confucians, and a great deal can be learned by attending to what they had to say on the subject. In the Confucian tradition, human morality and the personal realization it inspires are grounded in the cultivation of family feeling. One may even go so far as to say that, for China, family reverence was a necessary condition for developing any of the other human qualities of excellence. On the basis of the present translation of the Xiaojing (Classic of Family Reverence) and supplemental passages found in other early philosophical writings, Professors Rosemont and Ames articulate a specifically Confucian conception of "role ethics" that, in its emphasis on a relational conception of the person, is markedly different from most early and contemporary dominant Western moral theories. This Confucian role ethics takes as its inspiration the perceived necessity of family feeling as the entry point in the development of moral competence and as a guide to the religious life as well. In the lengthy introduction, two senior scholars offer their perspective on the historical, philosophical, and religious dimensions of the Xiaojing. Together with this introduction, a lexicon of key terms presents a context for the Xiaojing and provides guidelines for interpreting the text historically in China as well as suggesting its contemporary significance for all societies. The inclusion of the Chinese text adds yet another dimension to this important study. The Chinese Classic of Family Reverence is sure to appeal to specialists of comparative and Chinese philosophy and to all readers interested in the enduring importance of the family.
The Tradition of Daoyin
Daoyin, the traditional Chinese practice of guiding the qi and stretching the body is the forerunner of Qigong, the modern form of exercise that has swept through China and is making increasing inroads in the West. Like other Asian body practices, Daoyin focuses on the body as the main vehicle of attainment; sees health and spiritual transformation as one continuum leading to perfection or self-realization; and works intensely and consciously with the breath and with the conscious guiding of internal energies. This book explores the different forms of Daoyin in historical sequence, beginning with the early medical manuscripts of the Han dynasty, then moving into its religious adaptation in Highest Clarity Daoism. After examining the medieval Daoyin Scripture and ways of integrating the practice into Tang Daoist immortality, the work outlines late imperial forms and describes the transformation of the practice in the modern world. Presenting a rich crop of specific exercises together with historical context and comparative insights, Chinese Healing Exercises is valuable for both specialists and general readers. It provides historical depth and opens concrete details of an important but as yet little-known health practice.
This ambitious work is a multimedia, interdisciplinary study of Chinese modernity in the context of globalization from the late nineteenth century to the present. Sheldon Lu draws on Chinese literature, film, art, photography, and video to broadly map the emergence of modern China in relation to the capitalist world-system in the economic, social, and political realms. Central to his study is the investigation of biopower and body politics, namely, the experience of globalization on a personal level. Lu first outlines the trajectory of the body in modern Chinese literature by focusing on the adventures, pleasures, and sufferings of the male (and female) body in the writings of selected authors. He then turns to avant-garde and performance art, tackling the physical self more directly through a consideration of work that takes the body as its very theme, material, and medium. In an exploration of mass visual culture, Lu analyzes artistic reactions to the multiple, uneven effects of globalization and modernization on both the physical landscape of China and the interior psyche of its citizens. This is followed by an inquiry into contemporary Chinese urban space in popular cinema and experimental photography and art. Examples are offered that capture the daily lives of contemporary Chinese as they struggle to make the transition from the vanishing space of the socialist lifestyle to the new capitalist economy of commodities. Lu reexamines the history and implications of China’s belated integration into the capitalist world system before closing with a postscript that traces the genealogy of the term "postsocialism" and points to the real relevance of the idea for the investigation of everyday life in China in the twenty-first century.
Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Use of a Symbolic Form
Buddhist steles represent an important subset of early Chinese Buddhist art that flourished during the Northern and Southern Dynasties period (386–581). More than two hundred Chinese Buddhist steles are known to have survived. Their brilliant imagery has long captivated scholars, yet until now the Buddhist stele as a unique art form has received little scholarly attention. Dorothy Wong rectifies that insufficiency by providing in this well-illustrated volume the first comprehensive investigation of this group of Buddhist monuments. She traces the ancient roots of the Chinese stele tradition and investigates the process by which Chinese steles were adapted for Buddhist use. She arranges the known corpus of Buddhist steles into broad chronological and regional groupings and analyzes not only their form and content but also the nexus of complex issues surrounding this art form—from cultural symbolism to the interrelations between religious doctrine and artistic expression, economic production, patronage, and the synthesis of native and foreign art styles. In her analysis of Buddhism’s dialogue with native traditions, Wong demonstrates how the Chinese artistic idiom planted the seeds for major achievements in figural and landscape arts in the ensuing Sui and Tang periods.
Chinese in the twentieth century, intent on modernizing their country, condemned their inherited culture in part on the grounds that it was oppressive to the young. The authors of this pioneering volume provide us with the evidence to re-examine those charges. Drawing on sources ranging from art to medical treatises, fiction, and funerary writings, they separate out the many complexities in the Chinese cultural construction of childhood and the ways it has changed over time. Listening to how Chinese talked about children--whether their own child, the abstract child in need of education or medical care, the ideal precocious child, or the fictional child--lets us assess in concrete terms the structures and values that underlay Chinese life.
Suitable for college and high school students and those learning on their own, this fully illustrated coursebook provides comprehensive instruction in the history and practical techniques of Chinese calligraphy. No previous knowledge of the language is required to follow the text or complete the lessons. The work covers three major areas: 1) descriptions of Chinese characters and their components, including stroke types, layout patterns, and indications of sound and meaning; 2) basic brush techniques; and 3) the social, cultural, historical, and philosophical underpinnings of Chinese calligraphy—all of which are crucial to understanding and appreciating this art form. Students practice brush writing as they progress from tracing to copying to free-hand writing. Model characters are marked to indicate meaning and stroke order, and well-known model phrases are shown in various script types, allowing students to practice different calligraphic styles. Beginners will find the author’s advice on how to avoid common pitfalls in writing brush strokes invaluable. Chinese Writing and Calligraphy will be welcomed by both students and instructors in need of an accessible text on learning the fundamentals of the art of writing Chinese characters.