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Features 35 ment ofthat change), which should, at the very least, raise some doubts in a historian's mind as to his memoryor veracity. No other interpretation—and there are others—is even acknowledged (pp. 440-450). In the end, it is hard to know whom this book is for. Since this is a summary ofwork done by others, specialists will not find it useful. For students, eighty dollars a pop seems considerably excessive. As for general readers, I suspect they will become bogged down in the details. For this group, there are more accessible alternatives ofofficial histories ofthe Dalai Lama's position, such as John Avedon's In Exilefrom the Land ofSnows (New York: Knopf; distributed by Random House, 1984). One cannot help but feel that this book, for all the prodigious amount of serious effort that went into it, was published largely because Tibet is "hot." A. Tom Grunfeld State University ofNew York / Empire State College A. Tom Grunfeld is a professor ofhistory specializing in the modern history ofEast Asia. Wu Hung. Monumentality in Early ChineseArtandArchitecture. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995. xviii, 376 pp. 263 black-and-white photographs , 15 maps. Hardcover $75.00, isbn 0-8047-2428-8. Less than two decades ago, in his overview ofWestern studies of Chinese bronzes, Wen Fong noted that after the methodological debates of the late 1940s, "most younger scholars ofChinese art seem to have . . . turned to safer grounds ofdata gathering and research on [a] specific topic."1 But no sooner was this view raised than the flow ofimportant new finds, often coming from archaeologicallywelldefined contexts and handled with a sensitivity to the methodological and theoretical concerns that have been pervading art history at least since the early 1970s, began to show their impact in the field ofearly Chinese art. During the past decade , the Western scholarship on early Chinese art, as exemplified most notably in books by Robert Bagley, Lothar von Falkenhausen, Martin Powers, Jessica Rawson, and Audrey Spiro, has achieved not only an unprecedented sophistica-© 1998 by University tion> but in some mstances J135 ais0 cieariydemonstrated an ambition to reach awm ? ressbeyond the narrow confines ofscholars ofChinese art and culture. Among the memorable achievements of this revitalization in the history of Chinese art, Professor Wu Hung's previous monograph The Wu LiangShrine: TheIdeology of 36 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 Early Chinese Pictorial Art ranks high, being greatly acclaimed by the audiences for both sinology and art history. For all its new insights, however, this book was nevertheless remarkably traditional in its basic approach of using texts to expound the meaning ofimages and to reconstruct the significance of a given monument—an iconology at its best. In his more recent Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture,1 Wu Hung has presented us with an entirely different volume—much less orthodox and much more ambitious—which I have found very stimulating and challenging , but also irritating and in many ways provisional and unconvincing. Consisting of five self-contained essays, heterogeneous in the topic, organization, and method employed, and together spanning a time frame from the Neolithic period to the Northern and Southern Dynasties, this book strikes one by its combination of interpretative ambitions and the sheer scope ofmaterial and issues treated. To readers familiar with Wu Hung's scholarship, his arguments do not come out of the blue; substantial parts of the text of Monumentality were adapted from a series of previously published articles and lectures. Monumentality opens with an introductory chapter "The Nine Tripods and Traditional Chinese Concepts of Monumentality," in which the author defines his book as an examination of concepts of monumentality and the forms of monuments in the specific context of ancient China. Rejecting the conventional understanding of the monument in terms of grandiosity, permanence, and stillness, he insists that "there is absolutely nothing we can categorically label a standard 'Chinese monument'" because the tangible material properties of monuments, as well as the concepts and notions they signify, underwent constant change (p. 4). Consequendy , he proposes to support the identification ofvarious forms of ancient Chinese monuments and their historical relationship by a discussion of different conceptions of monumentality (the features that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 35-51
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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