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  • The Scholar’s Mind: Essays in Honor of Frederick W. Mote ed. by Perry Link
  • Sarah Schneewind (bio)
Perry Link, editor. The Scholar’s Mind: Essays in Honor of Frederick W. Mote. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2009. 304 pp. Hardcover $45.00, ISBN 978-962-996-403-0.

Master Kong expressed his disappointment in his disciple Zai Wo by likening him to a wall of dung, which cannot be properly plastered. But the cover of this book shows a very well plastered wall, textured, whitewashed, the last broad strokes showing. No literatus has yet scrawled a poem on it. Perhaps it represents the scholar’s mind with its individual texture, ready to receive the black ink of a range of topics in its own way. F. W. Mote (1922–2005) surely would have been pleased with these ten essays, from a conference held in 2006, which attest to the strength of friendship and of a relationship not listed among the Five: teacher and student. Each writer has a different connection to Mote, and the essays variously relate to specific topics he worked on, express appreciation of his teaching, refer to his awareness of deep historical roots, or mention his dictum that literature and history are brothers who have not divided their patrimony. The volume exemplifies [End Page 364] the theme raised in the forward by Andrew Plaks: Mote’s broad yet detailed Sino-logical learning, encompassing times and topics into which he was often drawn by his own students and others whose manuscripts benefited from his comments and corrections. Perry Link wisely chose to substitute Plaks’s brief tribute for the typical forced march through the contributions, so there are no spoilers. The essays run roughly chronologically, from Yuan through today, but with many dips into Song and earlier.

David Sensabaugh studies a portrait by a Yuan painter whose text on portraiture was preserved in Tao Zongyi’s miscellany, the subject of Mote’s dissertation. Wang Yi’s careful portrait of his patron Yang Qian, entirely new in small portraits as done in ink only (and, unfortunately, too small here to see clearly) began a collaborative scroll to which nine men added inscriptions, Ni Zan added a pine and rocks, and Yang himself may have added bamboo (now lost). Another collaborative scroll for Yang portrayed his studio in a new way: as a place of retreat from which the world in still visible. Sensabaugh argues that the portrait presents a new image of the man of culture—writer, painter, patron—for whom the question of whether to serve or withdraw is openly posed by the depiction of the studio. In either case, the wen ren’s self is shaped, supported, and celebrated by like-minded friends—a nice start to a collaborative, celebratory volume.

Geoff Wade reminds readers of Mote’s interest in the southern side of Yuan and Ming politics. Continuing his contributions as translator, Wade offers a set of resources for studying the fighting and diplomacy of Burma and the Mongols. Foremost is an annotated translation of “Account of Mian,” chapter 210 of the Yuanshi. In addition, Wade provides notes on the major studies of the topic; a chronology of interactions from 1271 to 1301; a map (no easy feat); an explanation of the various polities involved; and translations of a contemporary Burmese inscription, the relevant passage in the 1829 Glass Palace Chronicle and the relevant part of Marco Polo’s account. Wade addresses some factual questions by comparing these accounts and points out their utility for studying different societies’ styles of historiography. Wade’s selection is not simply a resource for other scholars, but also an important collection of primary sources (accompanied by helpful commentary) that could be incorporated into seminar classes with undergraduates.

The late Hok-lam Chan was Mote’s first student. In one of his last published contributions, Chan expands again on his dissertation on the life and mythology of Liu Ji, advisor to the Ming founder. Stories that were originally told about other people attached themselves to Liu and were embedded in the two novels about Taizu and the early Ming. Liu morphed from a savvy advisor to one with...


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