Art and Political Expression in Early China 0300047673, 9780300047677

Powers examines the art and politics of the Han dynasty (206 B.C. - 200 A.D.) and shows that both were influenced by the

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A r t & Political


in Early


Copyright • 1991 by Yale University. All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, including illustrations, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press), without written permission from the publishers. Designed by Jill Breitbarth Set in Galliard type by Keystone Typesetting, Inc., Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania. Printed in the Umted States of America by Hamilton Printing Co ., Castleton, New York. Library

of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication


Powers, Martin Joseph, 1949Art and political expression in early China / Martin J. Powers, p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-300-04767-3 1. Sepulchral monuments—Political aspects—China— History. 2. Sculpture, Chinese—Ch'in-Han dynasties, 221 B.C.-220 A.D. I. Title. NB1880.C6P68 1991 90-20341 732'.7i—dczo CIP The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1




Author's Note x i i Introduction: Methods & Assumptions I II III

Questions about Subject Matter

& Style

The H a n Public and Its Critique The Engravings



of Aristocratie

and Their Market

Map 1 : Registered

i Taste


of H a n China ( A. D . 2)

Map 2: Major Sites of the Classical and Descriptive TV V

Economic Dimensions Classicism

of Structure

Classical Themes as Arguments


Classical Themes as Criticism


& Style




I J6



Omens as Arguments

24 6

Tombs of the Descriptive Conclusion

37 J



Omens as Criticism Conflicts of Taste


3 34


& Their Market

2 79






Glossary of Chinese Characters Bibliography Index






.A. T -A . any scholars have helped to shape the ideas and methods used in this book. First among these is my teacher, Harrie Vanderstappen, who taught me how to read style and who encouraged me to range widely in an attempt to understand it. For leading me along the difficult paths to Chinese language and bibliography, I owe a great debt to George Chao, David Roy, and T. H . Tsien at the University of Chicago. From the days of my candidacy until only a few years ago I enjoyed the unflagging support and encouragement of the late Lawrence Sickman. All who knew him will recognize what a privilege this was. I came to appreciate the complexities of Han artifacts only after visiting China, where a great many scholars generously gave of their time, knowledge, and friendship, especially Jiang Hua, Jiang Yingju, Jiang Zanchu, Li Falin, Li Xueqin, Li Youmou, Liu Dunyuan, Lu o Zongzhen, Qin H ao, Shang Chengzuo, Shang Zhitan, Su Bai, Tang Chi, Yu Weichao, Wang Lilin , Wen You, Yang Boda, and Zhang Daoyi. Through conferences, publications, and conversation, I have learned much from colleagues in the field of early Chinese art and archeology, especially K. C. Chang, Wilma Fairbank, David Keighdey, Richard Rudolph, Bob Thorp, and Wu H u n g, as will be evident from the content of this book. I am equally grateful to colleagues in H an history, many of whom have freely shared their knowledge over the years and whose publications have been an inspiration. Readers will readily recognize the debt owed to Hans Bielenstein, Chi-yun Ch'en, Jack Du ll, Patricia Ebrey, Cho-yun Hsu, Michael Loewe, and Ying-shih Yu. ix



For providing a stimulating intellectual environment, I am also much in debted to friends I first met at the University of California, Los Angeles, especially Albert Boime, Susan Downey, Philip Huang, Ioli Kalevrezou-Maxeiner, Cecelia Klein , David Kunzle, Perry Lin k, Don McCallum, Karl Werckmeister, and the late Arnold Rubin . Likewise, I have learned much from my colleagues at the University of Michigan, especially David Huntington, whose kindness and wisdom have been an inspiration. Over the years my understanding of art historical method benefited gready from ideas and advice offered by Norman Bryson, James Cahill, Kurt Forster, David Freedberg, John Hay, Wai-kam H o , Chu-tsing Li , Henry Millon , John Onians, and Richard Wollheim. Among these, the encouragement and example of James Cahill have been as important for me personally as his leadership has been for the field in general. Like many others, I was also the beneficiary of John Onians's quick intellect and example. Every instructor learns a great deal from students, and I have been especially fortunate in this regard. For this I offer special thanks to Audrey Spiro, Judy Lai, Jessica Lyu , Tamara Heimarck, Sarah Wang, and Terre Fisher. I have been especially fortunate to benefit over many years from the advice and friendship of James Lee and Tom Crow. At Yale University Press, Judy Metro and Harry Haskell have been both astute and thoughtful in the care they have given this book. I am very grateful to David Oliver, the artist whose keen eye has revealed much about how the ancient artists worked. Finally, I am grateful to Audrey Spiro, whose diligence and erudition helped to purge many errors from the galleys. Research for this book was generously supported by the Fulbright Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and the U C I A Academic Senate. I am grateful to the Chinese University of H on g Kong for providing space and facilities while I was conducting research there in 1982.1 am indebted to the following museums for making available to me their collections and for granting permission to publish items from their collections: the Confucius Temple Museum, Qufu, Shandong; the Dahuting Museum, M i County, Henan; the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Hunan Provincial Mu seum, Changsha; the Palace Museum, Beijing; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas Cit y; the Riibel Asiatic Research Collection, Fine Arts Library, Sackler Museum, Harvard University; Shaanxi Provincial Museum, Xi'an; the Shandong Provincial Museum of Art, Ji'nan; the Sichuan Provincial Museum, Chengdu; the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor; the Xuzhou Municipal Museum, Xuzhou; the Yangzhou Municipal Museum, Yangzhou; and the Zou County Museum, Shandong. The color plates were made possible through the generosity of the University of Michigan Horace H . Rackham School of Graduate Studies.



I am grateful to my mother, a child of the Depression, who taught me about the roots of poverty, and my father, who taught his seven-year-old boy the difference between a president and a king. A trained historian, Am y Ma contributed to the conception and development of this book in more ways than I can enumerate. Since young adulthood we have turned over together countless numbers of ideas, historical and otherwise. When two people have done that for so long, a bit of one always dwells in the other. Amy's thoughts and feelings dwell in many parts of this book.

Author's Note

A .X. A. number of translations have been provided throughout this book. Many of the sources have been translated previously, but more than a few are new to the literature on Chinese art. Consequently, it is appropriate to say a few words about translation. In selecting and producing translations for this study, I have chosen to observe certain principles and conventions. First, I have endeavored, wherever practicable, to utilize existing standard translations so that nonsinologists may seek the fuller translated text if desired. Second, I have borne in mind Manfred Porkert's distinction between normative translation and flexible translation. In a normative translation, a given Chinese term will be uniformly translated by the same English term. Ji a n , for instance, will always be translated as "sword." In a flexible translation, one attempts to find the English term or phrase that best expresses a comparable meaning for a comparable context (insofar as this is possible), with the result that a single Chinese term must often be rendered by any one of a variety of English terms. In general, normative translations serve well only for very technical terms or everyday objects. If one tries to render more complex ideas unalterably with but a single English word, one is restricted to the most literal of translations. These can sound awkward or meaningless to English-speaking readers. Therefore, I have tended to opt for flexible translations on the principle that one should employ the English word or phrase which modern speakers would use to convey a given idea. One tries to be as literal as possible, but not at the expense of Xll



intelligibility. The object of this is to avoid what might be called the "Charlie Chan" syndrome that sometimes makes the subtlest Chinese thinkers sound for instance, sometimes translated as "the light and the quaint. Qingzhong, heavy," would, in this book, more likely be rendered as "weight," "importance," or "priorities in government," depending upon the context. There are, to be sure, many lucid schools of thought on this topic. I recognize that I have not always succeeded in producing the best rendering and my original translations cannot be expected to compete with those of truly gifted translators. Nonetheless, I shall be content if they avoid the Charlie Chan syndrome and convey the appropriate meaning. When working with standard translations, it has sometimes been necessary to introduce minor editorial changes so as to make the passage read more smoothly or intelligibly. In such cases the passage is cited as "based upon [soand-so]'s translation." James Legge's Victorian English, for instance, has been amended here and there. Not all changes made are due to the sound or sense of the English; in some cases the standard translation sounds good as it is, but I have wished to emphasize some facet of meaning that another author did not emphasize. (It is impossible to translate Chinese without emphasizing one facet of meaning at the expense of another.) If the change is important, I provide comments in the notes explaining how my rendering differs from someone else's and why. The illustrations in this book vary considerably in quality. Specialists in the field of Chinese studies will understand immediately the reason for this, but most readers will not. In China, published articles constitute an important source of revenue for scholars. Those responsible for excavating material have the right to restrict others from publishing such material until they have had the opportunity to do so themselves. This is a legitimate concern, and the Chinese government has rules to protect the rights of excavators. Consequently, photography of paintings, sculptures, and other cultural artifacts is tighdy restricted. Unpublished materials generally may not be photographed, and even published materials may be restricted if the person in charge feels that they should. However, sometimes publication may take years or even decades, even though restricted materials may be extremely important from the perspective of the historian. As a result, sinologists studying important materials are often forced to take photographs from Chinese publications, which may be of poor quality, or to rely upon the best photo they could take under poor lighting conditions. Some of the photographs in this book are of these sorts. I attempted to avoid reliance on such photographs, but some were very important to the argument. In some




cases, I included photographs of materials otherwise unknown or unavailable because specialists, lacking any images of these important monuments, would appreciate even lackluster photographs. Having said this, I should stress that most of the better original photographs in this book were obtained only with the help and support of serious colleagues in China, and to these men and women all scholars interested in these materials will remain grateful.

Introduction: Methods & Assumptions


o a historian, the Han dynasty (206 B . C. - A. D . 220) marks the first stable empire in China, the beginning of the bureaucratic system of government, and the implementation of a meritocratic standard of official performance. It is also a watershed in the evolution of concepts of human worth. Han political thinkers recognized that human worth was determined by merit and not by birth, an idea that would inspire men like Voltaire and Abbé Raynal almost two millennia later. In China this view helped justify the dismantling of the feudal system and the establishment of the imperial bureaucracy. As a further blow to aristocracy, H an political theory distinguished between the civil and military sectors of government. This meant that the military skills of the nobility were unnecessary for political office. H an statesmen discriminated further between funds intended for public projects and the private monies controlled by the imperial court—the government budget, in other words, was not the same as the emperor's purse. A greater number of resources and social prerogatives became available to commoners during the Han. It was this dynasty that established the first statesponsored universities and public schools, for example, and the first legal protection for male and female slaves. There was even an attempt to free the slaves entirely. During the H an , capital punishment cases had to be reviewed by a higher court; citizens could appeal direcdy to the central government, and there were periodic reviews of court cases to search for infractions of justice. We should not suppose that these laws and procedures were enforced efficiendy—



this was not a modern-style government. That such laws and procedures existed at all—after two millennia of aristocratic rule—is remarkable. Their existence made possible the rise of "political expression" as an issue of debate. It was for these reasons that social criticism proliferated during this period, coming to a head during the second century A.D . in China'sfirst student demonstrations. The Han dynasty witnessed some important "firsts" in the history of art as well. This is the period when figure painting, narrative painting, and genre scenes first become widespread and when artists first achieved a convincing illusion of three dimensions. It was also during this time that local landowners—lacking noble or even official rank—began commissioning large-scale monuments. The art these landowners fostered was unlike that of the aristocracy. It did not seek to declare the inherited status of its patron, nor did it attempt to mimic ideals of courtly taste. Rather, it promoted ideals that contrasted starkly with the status quo. In other words, this art was critical and rhetorical—the first of its kind in China. It is the contention of this book that these two sets of firsts—in social history and art history—were intimately related. Consequendy, this book is not a survey of Han dynasty art. Instead it seeks to show, by means of a limited number of examples, how issues of political expression can be traced in Han pictorial art.


A r t and Political


How do we know that art possessed a political dimension in the ancient world? Simply because it was consumed, generally, only by people in positions of power. All over the world, and for much of its history, the production of fine art has been dominated by courtly taste. In both France and Japan, aristocrats demanded highlyfinished,brighdy colored accounts of their own activities and exploits. One thinks, for example, of works like the Tres riches heures or the Heiji Mmqgatari. The same could be said of Persia (the Shah Natneh) or Renaissance Italy (the Visconti Hours). This pattern is particularly noticeable in Europe where, from the fall of the Roman empire until the nineteenth century, the imprint of the aristocracy and its refined taste is everywhere evident in mainstream art. We need think only of Raphael's portraits of the nobility, Rubens's series on Marie de Medicis, Van Dyck's paintings of English royalty, or Gainsborough's renderings of the aristocracy to appreciate how widespread is the impact of aristocratic taste. Nor is the mark of aristocracy limited to paintings that depict aristocratic patrons. An absence of that reserve and elegance expected of polite society could not be tolerated even in views of the Madonna or amorous peasants during some periods of European art.



To this tradition of upper-class patronage one might attribute the high level of finish and skill in European masterworks. From the historian's perspective, however, aristocratic patronage has its drawbacks, for it is difficult to find evidence of some other point of view about the aristocracy. This is not to say that artists critical of the government were few in number; it may simply be that their works have not survived. Patronage studies of European art, taking into account the impact of aristocratic taste, often seek to show how the interests of this duke or that pope have been served by a particular artistic program or style. Alternatively, historians may show how other classes, from bankers to petty merchants, sought to imitate courtly taste in increasingly unsuccessful ways, giving rise to provincial styles and the so-called center-periphery relationship between styles. For these reasons a good deal of scholarship on European art focuses on the relationship of the courts to works of art. Because the earliest well-defined taste for art in China also was that of the aristocracy, the historical role of aristocratic taste in Chinese art constitutes a legitimate general framework of comparison with Europe. It is, moreover, a useful comparison because it immediately highlights some major differences between China and Europe. Such comparisons must be made critically, not mechanically. Considering the history of European art, for instance, it is tempting for sinologists to assume that the imperial court played a comparable role in the evolution of artistic taste in China. I would suggest caution in such cases and maintain that, for most of Chinese history, the court-centered model is misleading. In most dynasties artistic taste evolved dialectically, powered by a ceaseless rivalry for cultural hegemony between court and province, the enfeebled aristocracy and the Confucian intellectuals who actually administered the government. Courtly taste was important in China, but not in the same way as in Europe. Like many important things in Chinese history, this dialectic begins in Han times. From about the mid-second century B.C. through the second century A.D., Chinese scholars, statesmen, and courtiers sustained an almost continuous controversy over the proper distribution of social and economic resources. Sometimes opinions were expressed in public debate, sometimes in memorials or essays, and sometimes in open battle. Conspicuous products of material wealth such as architecture, sculpture, mural painting, and objets d'art figured prominently in these exchanges. At first they were merely cited in debates as emblems of extravagant consumption. Later, art monuments became as much a medium of debate as an object of it. In either role, such monuments were difficult to ignore. For more than a thousand years wealth, luxury, and the fine art that was its token had been the prerogative of a hereditary aristocracy. Under the Han empire, the middle-income Confucian scholars found themselves in a position to struggle for a greater share of the pie. And as they disparaged the social



value of the rich, so did they reject those styles of art which had become synonymous with wealth and power. In this way attitudes toward styles of art came to be articulated as a feature of the scholars' concern with concentrated wealth—its distribution, its social value, and the influence it exerted on a man's life. The writings of the scholars seem to represent best the interests of middleincome landowners subject to lossesfrom rich bullies above and from a discontented peasantry below. The landowners used their influence in government to guard against such losses, and the imperial government learned to listen because middle-income clans were, on the whole, good citizens. They were appreciated as an important source of political support for the emperor, a body of propertied clans sufficiently educated to participate in government yet dependent on that government for authority. Likewise, they were rich enough to pay taxes yet, unlike the truly rich, subject to legal constraints. The political and ethical works of the Confucian tradition were admirably suited to articulating the needs of the scholars and the government that needed them. Confucianism placed public service before personal gain, public merit before personal wealth, loyalty before private interests, and obedience before desire. The advantages of these teachings for a centralized government have long been recognized, but the advantages to middle-income clans were equally great, chiefly because standards of social utility were disengaged from signs of wealth. Theoretically, it was no longer necessary—nor even desirable—for those eligible to rule to declare their eligibility with overt signs of opulence. O n the contrary, Confucian standards required a rather different and more complex set of signs, including evidence of a classical education, evidence of political reliability (filial piety), and evidence of dedication to public service (frugality). As a consequence, ambitious Confucian scholars came to require an art form wholly different in style and content from that of the old nobility. Herein lies the source of the dialectic which, ultimately, would shape the character of aesthetic discourse in China for two millennia. Given current debates in art history, the link between pictorial art and political expression could be misconstrued with very little effort. Conservative critics might dismiss the phenomenon as an artifact of left-wing scholarship or, perhaps, a peculiarity of Asian culture, with its propensity for despotic and thus "political" modes of expression. On the other hand, those familiar with recent studies of art and politics might find the connection too obvious for comment. O f course art is linked to political expression—did not Napoleon enlist the expressive powers of Ingres for political purposes? I would propose that the link between art and political expression should be considered neither a universal of art history nor a peculiarity of Chinese civilization, but a special art historical problem that has arisen in a few societies throughout history. 1



The historical conditions examined in this book become special only if one assigns the proper range of meaning to the term political expression. If it were applied to any assertion of authority, it would scarcely qualify as special. It is difficult, after all, to think of a time or place where some chieftain or king, some pope or mandarin did not utilize art to enhance his presence and authority. In this book I shall use the term in a more rigorous sense. Rather than inquire as to when potentates exert pressure on their populations, it is more meaningful to ask when the power of the ruled waxes strong enough to raise the idea of "political expression" as an issue of public debate. When does the idea of public opinion arise at all? When is the domain of the public conceived as something separate from the private property of the monarch? When do discussions of art cease to eulogize the taste of the privileged and begin to criticize it? When can we identify a distinct kind of taste adapted to the interests of an enfranchised but nonaristocratic social group? Nonaristocratic is the keyword here, for in societies sufficiently advanced to discuss in writing standards of taste, the taste for fine art generally was nurtured first in families privileged by noble birth and wealth. Because of this, middle elites seeking a share in the prerogatives of power—whether political expression, education, or good taste—must imitate, modify, or reject aristocratic standards as they create their own distinctive discourses of social value. Existing standards will be rejected or modified when some people discover that their own interests are better served by a set of concerns, a collection of keywords, or a body of assumptions—that is, a "discourse"—different from that which previously served the interests of the aristocracy. The term discourse is very much in vogue at the moment and can assume quite a range of meanings depending upon the author. It has come into English usage from French critics of culture and has spread, I believe, because of its utility as an aid to analysis. The most useful discussion of this term I have encountered is that of John Barrell, which is based on the work of Stephen Copley: "[Discourse] defines the subjects it will treat in distinctive ways, formulating and giving prominence to particular problems and effectively excluding others from consideration; a n d . . . in doing so, it [quoting Copley] 'develops a characteristic vocabulary' and 'establishes a particular order of priorities in its discussion and implies particular ideological valuations of the subjects it has defined.'" In other words, a discourse is defined by a set of issues, themes, keywords, and values recognized unquestioningly as important by a given population. Different social groups will promote particular issues, keywords, and suppositions because these are perceived as beneficial to their own interests. In order for any individual speaker or writer to be effective, therefore, he or she must cast 2



desired goals within the framework of the discourse accepted by the audience. From this it is easy to understand why discourse is so powerful in practice. Once a congressman agrees to call a mercenary force "freedom-fighters," there is no more room for argument. H ow can a senator recommend terminating financial support for freedom-fighters? She can only argue against such support by using an alternate discourse, one, for example, in which mercenaries are called mercenaries. By examining the discourse, one can disclose the hidden agendas designed into the very fabric of speech. "Discourse" is also powerful as an analytical tool in the history of art because it cuts across different media of communication. The "freedom-fighter" discourse will have its visual correlates, such as military symbols,flags,and so on. It will also have its correlates in style, for just as a discourse gives prominence to some problems and effectively excludes others, so does a style. Some styles give prominence to such things as texture and weight, while others exclude theme entirely. For these reasons, neoclassical sculpture can be as much a part of a discourse as the term liberty. Because of this, a given style of art can be understood as one element in a broader discourse that includes not only values and slogans but also modes of dress and even styles of ambulation. In ancient China, that constellation of behaviors, clothing, and artistic styles first associated with power and prerogative was early on defined by hereditary elites. Therefore, any group that would promote a different constellation of qualities had to define itself in relation to the ideals of aristocracy. The presence of aristocracy is so ubiquitous in European history and its standards so pervasive in our traditional art and literature that one might well assume its cultural dominance in all preindustrial societies. This is not quite the case, but certainly it is only at rare moments in history that the material display and technical finish associated with aristocracy give way to some alternate set of values. For this reason, the apparendy trivial pomposity of much aristocratic taste is all too easily dismissed. Writing of aristocracy in the European context [but equally applicable to pre-Song China), Jonathan Powis notes that "historians have not always been sensitive to the logic of large-scale aristocratic expenditure. If lavish display was so constandy indulged in , it was in large part a matter of meeting the community's expectations of how great families should live. This may offend modern advocates of prudent housekeeping, but the visible extravagance of aristocratic wealth was not, in its context, irrational or empty of meaning." Powis's emphasis on gaudy display among aristrocratic groups is based less on a survey of court art than on his analysis of the bond between material display and the maintenance of aristocratic institutions. It would be easy to cite examples of aristocratic groups that promoted more 3



restrained styles of art (neoclassical art in France, for instance, or Zen painting in the Shogunal courts), but these examples do not easily dilute the strength of Powis's generalization. In the history of art, extravagant material display is both widespread and persistent among hereditary elites, which suggests that it precedes and is historically more fundamental than the aesthetic of restrained styles. The latter, after all, relies upon material display for its significance. Rather than nip at the edges of Powis's thesis, it may be better to take up his challenge that we consider the politics of extravagance more seriously. Not only historians but art historians and anthropologists may be tempted to treat extravagant display lighdy, thinking it far too obvious to merit the attention of serious minds. But art historians can boast so few certainties that it seems extravagant to squander the few that we have. I am not suggesting that a table leg layered with gilded arabesques harbors some deeper meaning (though it may). Rather, I am proposing that this particular aesthetic—in which more decoration, material, or skill indicates greater social value—occupies a special and fundamental place in the history of art. It is fundamental because its meaning, in a world of scarcity, is perfecdy obvious even to the unlettered (see chapter 3). It is special because, whenever the prerogatives of nonaristocratic classes are in dispute, the prevailing aristocratic discourse is the common touchstone of the debate. It will occur to many that nonaristocratic classes can appropriate aristocratic privileges without necessarily creating a new discourse or new aesthetic. It might even be argued that this is the common state of affairs. Again, Powis observes that in early modern Europe "it was certainly possible for new men to rise through the administrative ranks, but by the time they reached the top the material and psychological attractions of nobility were likely to have left their mark. Giving orders long remained a gentleman's business, after all, and newcomers who gave orders quickly acquired the trappings of a gendeman." It would not be difficult to think of analogs in the history of art: the financiersof rococo France, for instance, or the merchants of Florence or of Song China. At such times, however, neither political expression nor artistic taste is really in dispute. The "new men" merely mimic and occupy the social positions of aristocrats. They do not identify themselves as a class with interests distinct from those of the aristocracy but seek to merge with it. Hence, the upward mobility of the new men does not require them to question aristocratic norms and institutions. This is not always the case, however. John Barrell has argued that, in England of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, art critics of the commercial class at first adopted the neoclassical discourse of the aristocracy but later adapted it to their own needs. Thomas Crow has shown how the old French aristocracy adopted an aesthetic addressed, so they claimed, to the "public" 4



interest, in contradistinction to the financiers,who mimicked the taste of the court. In both England and France, aristocratic taste remained a point of reference in debates over political expression and artistic taste. Doubdess other examples could be drawn from European history. What about H an China, where giving orders was not generally a gendeman's business, if we construe "gentleman" to mean "nobleman?" Could any such altercation between aristocratic and middle-level elites have occurred in ancient China? At first sight the historical situation looks so different as to discourage comparison. The voices of public opinion in Europe, after all, arose in the throes of the industrial revolution, a condition unknown in the ancient world. All this notwithstanding, the debates about political expression and artistic taste in H an China cannot be understood except as the first attack on aristocratic taste by newly enfranchised middle elites in China. How did this come about? By the first century B.C. the old aristocracy had sustained a series of heavy blows. Political power fellfrom their hands into those of financially weaker and replaceable bureaucrats. The few kings who remained did not even rule their own kingdoms; that was left to a chancellor appointed periodically by the central government. Yet, in cultural matters, the aristocratic tradition remained dominant. The great commodities merchants and brokers with their empire-wide enterprises avidly appropriated the extravagant taste of the old courts, for they had no alternate means to express social value in visual form. The old art, by virtue of its preciousness, segregated the haves from the have-nots, and this was sufficient for the needs of the new mercantile elites. Despite their old-fashioned views on art, many of these merchants served as officials running the vast budget of a bureaucratic empire and thus gained considerable access to the political decision-making process. About this time, however, others were seeking access to the political machinery of the empire. We read of discontented mobs clamoring in the streets and rural scholars demanding a greater voice in government. An d they got it, because the bureaucracy required the cooperation of local elites and because a weakened imperial court needed the support of the many middle-sized landowners. Before the dynasty was over, political pamphlets, critical essays, student demonstrations, and artistic monuments would be added to the growing list of vehicles for political expression. The political views expressed by upwardly mobile scholars were different from those of upwardly mobile merchants. Unlike the great merchants, the scholars created their own mode of discourse. Instead of adopting the taste of the court, like the financiers in France, the Confucian scholars set themselves in opposition to the artistic taste and social norms of the old aristocratic and new mercantile elites. There ensued, over the next three centuries, a series of debates 5




over the rightsof citizens to express themselves on public matters, the limits of public concern versus the private interests of the court, and the propriety of artistic styles associated with what the scholars regarded as antisocial attitudes. While the latter does not yet qualify as art criticism, it most certainly does mark the beginning of debates over artistic taste in China. All of these features— debates over the political participation of newly enfranchised middle elites, debates about the limits of public and private power, and the articulation of a nonaristocratic discourse for social and aesthetic values—mark the emergence of the public as a force in politics and art in both Europe and ancient China. All of this suggests that aristocratic culture, far from being a transparent and ubiquitous phenomenon, offers an important point of reference for the development of more sophisticated modes of discourse in the visual arts. In Han China the dialectical relationship between aristocratic taste and antiaristocratic taste gave rise to a variety of styles, each of which was meaningful principally in contrast to the other. In other words, the history of art in early China cannot be separated from the history of political expression.

A Problem



While the history of political expression in the West is part of the consciousness of every schoolchild, relatively little on the subject in China is known to the general public. This is not because political expression was unimportant in Chinese history. The tradition of explicit and radical social criticism goes back at least twenty-four hundred years. Consequently, we know much more about injustice in ancient China than in most traditional societies. If the openness of a society can be gauged by the degree to which political abuses can be exposed, then ancient China, for much of its history, was remarkably open. Contemporary historians can investigate political oppression in traditional China in great detail only because numbers of men and women were free to write about it or, at times, chose to risk their lives so as to set the record straight. The irony of this situation can be appreciated only by transferring it to a modern context. A bookstore in the United States, for example, is much more likely to contain books exposing government corruption than one in the Soviet Union (even under glasnost). It would hardly do to conclude from this that the social system in the United States is more oppressive than that in Eastern Europe. Still, if the evening news is any indicator, the public at large continues to regard China as monolithic and eternally despotic, so much so that the very tide of this book might seem an oxymoron to many. Much of the problem, I suspect, has to do with the perspective one brings to the study of Chinese history. 7



Having taught Chinese art history to undergraduates for more than a decade now, I find that the biggest obstacle to understanding for a general audience is posed by equivocations that arise from adopting different perspectives for East and West. In their attempts to find a frame of reference for understanding ancient China, students typically construct an "East/ West" comparative framework.This is not a bad idea and, in fact, is unavoidable. However, most students have had little European history and are unaware of the social and legal constraints under which most Europeans lived prior to the past century or two. Problems arise, therefore, when students take contemporary America as the standard of "the West" and ancient China as the standard of "the East." In doing so, they introduce into the discussion so many anachronisms as to defeat any attempt at true historical comparison. In other words, they suffer from problems of perspective. When I say perspective, I do not mean one's opinion or sympathy or inclination. Perspective has to do with the comparative nature of historical narrative. If we say eighteenth-century English society was open, for instance, our statement is meaningful only in relation to some other time or place; most likely we mean in comparison to eighteenth-century France or some earlier period in English history, not in comparison to the present day. The standard for comparison changes depending upon one's perspective. If one views an event prospectively, the situation prior to that event becomes the standard of comparison. This is a common perspective. The Magna Carta, for example, is significant because previously no legal restrictions substantially impeded the will of an English king. If one views an event or culture retrospectively, the present becomes the standard against which the past is assessed. Viewing the Magna Carta retrospectively, the document would be open to a good deal of criticism: it was limited to the nobility, it makes no general statement about the value of human life, there is no Miranda provision, and so on. Now, both perspectives have their uses, but in European history it would be odd to assess the Magna Carta exclusively according to current standards of justice. Many undergraduates, however, and even professionals, may view China anachronistically. Wolfram Eberhard, for in stance, castigated the astronomical officials of Han times because they "were not interested in applied technical sciences, e.g., in developing theoretical tools which could be used to control the flight of a cannon shell or to direct ships safely across the sea. Their central interest [in astronomy] was in politics, and all known 'scientists' were also personally deeply involved in politics." Should we conclude from this passage that Eberhard believed the ancient Romans developed theoretical tools for controlling cannon shells or directing ships across the sea? Was he unaware that cannons and compasses appeared in history more than 8



a miUennium later than the period he discussed? Did he forget that these inventionsfinallyappeared only because of the contributions of Chinese technologists? I suspect that the professor was not unaware of any of these things. His remarks make no sense at all unless we understand that he is viewing ancient China retrospectively, that is, assessing the achievements of ancient China against the standard of the modern West rather than, say, ancient Rome. Assuming that one eschews anachronistic comparisons, confusion can still enter into the discussion if one loses track of the level of analysis adopted at any given moment. In dealing with texts or works of art, it is useful to distinguish between various levels of interpretation (as opposed, for example, to levels of meaning, which are something else altogether). These levels can be broken down in numerous ways, but here I wish to distinguish between a literal level, a critical level, and a rhetorical level. Consider, as an example, a memorial shrine inscription unearthed some years ago. Originally the shrine was dedicated to a man named An Guo, one of many petty clerks who served in the prefect's office in Xu District. The inscription recounts the circumstances under which An Guo passed away, his qualities as a man, and particularly the virtuous behavior of his brothers after his death. It claims, for instance, that the sons of the household devoted themselves to serving their dead sibling "as when he was alive." This is what the text literally says. Conceivably, a historian might take the text at face value and conclude that the makers of the monument must have been filial as they claimed. One can, however, view this inscription at the critical level, calling into question various suppositions which, at first,seem self-evident. Let us start with the inscription itself. It was found on a stone unearthed together with a number of other engraved stones. The style of engraving is familiar and closely resembles those associated with the W u family shrines (figs, i , 2). These shrines are important for any study of Han art because we know that they were commissioned by local scholars in a politically active commandery in Han China called Shanyang. Since the inscription lists a number of subjects engraved on the shrine, it is natural and tempting to assume that the engravings found with it are those mentioned in the inscription. Stricdy speaking, this is not necessarily the case. From the work of archaeologists, we know that stone engravings were sometimes stolen and mixed together. If this were the case here, the inscription might have originally belonged to some other set of engravings. This does not seem the most probable interpretation, but it is possible. To consider such possibilities is to view the inscription critically. In this case, the possibility of mixed stones does not appear to be a major problem. Even if the inscription had been mixed with engravings other than those originally carved with it, much of what is said in the inscription would be



i . Fish with inscription. Stone engraving from Songshan, Shandong, mid-second century A.D. Ink rubbing, from LiFalin, Shimikrig

han hutuciangshiyenjiu

(Ji'nan, 1982), pi. 18.

of use in studying the values and tastes of the local scholars of Shanyang. This is so because the makers of the inscription also adhered to that school of engravers best known through the Wu shrines engravings (figs. 1,2). H ow do we know this? A close look at the borders of the inscription will reveal a number of fish carved exactly in the manner of the other stones. From this we know that this inscription was carved by artists of the Shanyang region for scholar patrons of the mid-second century A . D . There is more about this inscription that needs to be viewed critically. We learn at the outset of the inscription, for example, that An Guo was a perfect Confucian gentleman. H is surviving brothers, in keeping with the Confucian tradition linking piety with frugality, built a thatched hut near his tomb so as to serve him "as when he was alive," denying themselves the comforts of life they bestowed on their deceased sibling. These statements could be interpreted as evidence of widespread faith in Confucianism among local scholars in northeast China, but there is more to it. One needs to "step back" a bit and view the 9



inscription in the context of contemporaneous practices and institutions. One might note, for instance, that the Book of Rites, a favorite classic of Han scholars, explains how the most virtuous men served deceased relatives "as though they were alive." One might note further that a reputation for filial character was literally a requirement for any man who wished to be selected for government office. Finally, one might note that those individuals who erected shrines like this often actively sought employment with the government. At the critical level, the historian recognizes that what people say and do is influenced as much by what they want as by what they believe. No one can say that the people who wrote that inscription did not sincerely grieve for the dead brother—one hopes that they did. But we cannot ever know what they really felt. We can, however, determine with some assurance that the surviving sons needed to establish a reputation for piety if they ever hoped to get a job in the local bureaucracy. We can also demonstrate that contemporaries assumed funeral rites and monuments could enhance a man's reputation for piety (see 10



chapter 3). When historians take such matters into account, they are viewing the text critically. So far, no surprises. However, just as exclusive attention to the literal level of interpretation can distort our view of historical events, so is it also with the critical level. If one were to stop at the critical level in viewing the An Guo inscription, one would be left with a relatively narrow and even cynical view of ancient China, just as a retrospective view could lead one to criticize the Magna Carta for lacking a Miranda provision. This cynical view can be balanced, however, by stepping back once again, not to gain the ultimate, "objective" view, but simply to gain a wider view. I am calling this level of investigation rhetorical because it looks for trends in the ways social groups project their own image to contemporaries. At the rhetorical level of investigation, one starts with the supposition that people do not always believe what they say. One assumes that every author, including the contemporary scholar, has some view to promote. The way that view is promoted becomes the principal focus of interest rather than the "true," underlying motivation, which often is difficult to ascertain. All statements, in other words, whether verbal or visual, can be interpreted as part of a discourse with its own priorities and modes of expression. Once one has viewed the text critically, the mere duplicity of the text is no longer as interesting as the evolution of the discourse itself. Since one is now concerned with evolution—how one getsfrom A to B—one must view events prospectively. How does this apply to An Guo's inscription? Viewing his inscription rhetorically, one can appreciate how an expression of piety differs from earlier political discourses, which were concerned principally with simple assertions of inherited authority. If we cast this distinction in a prospective framework, we can recognize an important historical distinction. For the nobleman of earlier times, regal ornamentation and dress proclaimed his status and rank. But for the scholar, the claim of piety was an argument, an attempt to change the status quo (see chapter 6). At this level, while recognizing the duplicity of the text, one can also appreciate how much more complex a society must be to support the level of social mobility implicit in the scholar's plea. The rhetorical approach can be especially useful in dealing with early works. Like European classical texts, early Chinese texts are full of difficulties that can limit their value for historical use. For instance, the date of Chinese texts may be known only approximately. The true author may not be known at all. Individual characters may have been mistakenly substituted for the originals. Entire portions of the text might have been interpolated at a later time. Finally, the author's biases may make it difficult to rely on the verity of his claims. Taking a



rhetorical approach cannot eliminate these difficulties. The usual cautions still apply. However, a rhetorical approach can help one to exploit more fully the historical value of early texts. For example, a text of the first century B.C., used extensively in chapter 2, purports to be a record of a debate between Confucian scholars and economic advisors for the central government. In English we generally refer to this text as The Salt a n d i r o n Debates. Most scholars agree that the debate took place, but few would accept the text as a literal transcription of the debate. The text may even date to some decades after the event took place. The record, moreover, appears to be biased. Michael Loewe has noted, for instance, that the Confucians overall dole out more than they take, even though both parties get their egos bruised, suggesting that the author was sympathetic to the Confucian cause. These observations place constraints on one's ability to reconstruct the precise events of the debate using this text. Even a reconstruction of institutions referred to in the text must be taken with a grain of salt, since the writer may have exaggerated, for instance, the specific tax rate applied to farmers at that time. 11

If one views the same text rhetorically, however, the bias of the author is less a problem than a resource, since the bias reveals much about the strategies a writer of that period would have to employ in an argument over economic issues. Working at this level, one would suppose that, whatever his bias, the author had to maintain credibility with his readers. The issues debated, the logic employed, the authorities cited, and the suppositions made about the social and economic infrastructure could not stray too far from contemporary practice. If they did, readers simply would not be convinced. Therefore, when the distribution of economic resources emerges as a central theme of the debate, one can only conclude that this was an issue of legitimate public concern at the time the text was written down. Although the precise tax rate cited cannot be verified, it is clear that citizens and officials alike recognized that tax rates should be just and (equally significant) differed over the definition of "just." Although the writer may have exaggerated the poverty or wealth of one or more groups, if he distinguishes between "poor," "middle-income," and "rich " economic groups, his contemporaries must have understood what he meant, that is, such distinctions must have been part of the discourse of the period. When both parties claim, in self-defense, that the government is or ought to be open to criticism, one can only infer that political criticism was recognized as a legitimate topic of debate. Moreover, despite the imprecise date of the work, one can readily discern a difference between this text, in which the hypocrisy of Confucians is liberally exposed, and textsfrom the early first century A. D . , in which Confucians admit of no faults whatsoever. The discourse of the first century B.C. did not



allow even pro-Confucian writers to pretend that Confucians were without faults. The discourse of the first century A . D . did allow such pretensions. Viewing the text at this level—rhetorically—one can also appreciate the difference between a government that threatens its population with divine retribution and one that accepts the distribution of wealth as a legitimate topic for debate, and that is a matter of interest to a historian. It might appear that the rhetorical level of investigation would always reveal some advanced stage of evolution, as though societies all evolved inexorably toward liberal democracy. Such a position is usually identified with "wh ig" theories of history. One need not subscribe to such theories to recognize that the ruled do not always submit meekly to the rulers. It is difficult for any society to avoid conflicts between the haves and the have-nots. When the have-nots (a relative term in any case) acquire sufficient leverage, the distribution of resources will indeed widen and this will require more complex social, economic, and cultural structures. History need not proceed from the simple to the complex, but conflict frequently makes matters more complex. A broad perspective on the past and, ultimately, on China's present can be achieved only by recognizing that all statements about Chinese history are inescapably comparative in a general sense. They are not comparative in the rigorous sense of comparative history. Rather, readers of books about China will invariably compare them to something with which they are more familiar. Because comparisons with the modern world tend to introduce anachronisms, it is good to bear in mind differences in perspective and level of interpretation. Avoiding anachronistic comparisons does not mean ignoring the way in which our place in history shapes concerns. Like any writer, I also have my views, framed in relation to the interests of my audience, my culture, or my generation, and in relation to prevailing discourses about China. The topic of political expression is not intrinsically interesting. We live in a liberal democracy and we claim to value human life and freedom of expression. It is only for this reason that this topic is of interest and significance to us. Therefore, this study, while recognizing the impact of the modern world on its topic of interest, nonetheless endeavors to avoid anachronistic comparisons between ancient China and the modern world. Instead, as outlined in the previous section, the general condition of aristocratic society and taste in the premodern world may serve as a more appropriate backdrop for understanding the evolution of art in early China, for in both China and Europe the taste of the aristocracy was imprinted on the earliest traditions of fine art. It is only within such a framework that the true impact of the Confucian scholars on the development of early Chinese art can be appreciated.





the Evolution

of Style

It seems reasonable at this time to ask just how it is that the requirements of Confucian scholars, or any group, should have the power to elicit from artists a new style of art. Just what is meant by that? I cannot speak for others, but in this book patronage is not presumed to have an effect on the artist so much as on the proliferation and survival of his style. This approach is adopted because we are not dealing with one monument, but with hundreds produced over a period of many generations. For this reason it is not appropriate to seek an explanation in the life history of an individual artist or even an individual patron. Appeal to individuals will not help, because we are dealing with a collective phenomenon. In short, we are investigating a phenomenon subject to the vagaries of chance, a phenomenon whose behavior is, in part, probabilistic in nature. Probabilistic is a word that sits uncomfortably in a book about the history of art. It smacks of scientism and suggests a pretentious appeal to the black arts of mathematics. I feel as uncomfortable as any about such things, but it is necessary to raise the matter in order to distinguish between two kinds of generalization. It is sometimes said that merely one, nasty exception is sufficient to destroy a general theory. This is so only if the theory is deterministic in nature and extends to all individuals of a class. "All Chinese eat with chopsticks" is a generalization begging to be denied, since it is not difficult to find some Chinese person, somewhere, eating with knife and fork. However, if one were to say, "In China, people generally eat with chopsticks instead of knives and forks," this would be a valid generalization even if one found hundreds who used knives and forks. What the latter generalization really means is this: the probability that someone in China will use chopsticks to eat is significantly greater than the probability that they will not, even if the exact probability is not known or knowable. This is more typical of historical generalization. "Probabilistic," then, refers to patterns discernible in the behavior of collections of individuals under circumstances where the behavior of any one individual need not follow the pattern. Historians rarely mention the term, but they routinely rely on assumptions about populations that are probabilistic in nature. For instance, documentary evidence might suggest that significantly more peasants began moving to the towns during a certain period. Taking the significant increase as a phenomenon to be explained, a historian might explain it by noting that opportunities for making a living in the towns were increasing during that period. This would not imply that the historian assumed all farmers left the country for the city; nor would it mean that all farmers who left the country



actually did well in the city; nor would it mean that all farmers who left the country did so in order to make a better living. Another historian could not overturn the theory by documenting ten cases in which farmers decided to remain in the country. What the theory does mean is this: the perception that a better living could be had in towns can explain why extraordinary numbers overall left the country for the town. Although the movement of populations from the country to the city is, in a sense, a probabilistic phenomenon, one cannot say that such movement is random. O n the contrary, large numbers of individuals were affected by a common condition (lucrative opportunities in the towns), even though no individual's behavior was determined by that condition. When historians make such inferences, they do not require sophisticated mathematical models to make their point, but it is important to realize that the reasoning is based on assumptions about collective yet nondeterministic behavior. Every day each of us makes decisions based on assumptions of a similar kind. It is a beautiful Saturday and we wish to go to the beach but, surmising that others will be similarly tempted, we prudently pack our bags early so as to beat the crowds. It may be that some people did not go to the beach because it was a sunny Saturday (perhaps the trip had been planned months in advance, or someone's cousin dragged him along against his will). It may be that many who wanted to go to the beach were unable to do so. It may be that someone had a high school science project and had to go to the beach no matter what the weather. No individual's behavior is determined by the good weather. All these things notwithstanding, your assumption that the crowds will be greater on a sunny Saturday is likely to be borne out because the balmy weather provides just enough incentive to attract noticeably larger crowds. The collective behavior of large numbers of individuals shows a pattern even when the behavior of each individual remains free and without pattern. The reason these individuals behave in concert is that their behavior is not really random—it is in fact linked, united by a common set of conditions, among which the balmy weather figures prominendy. This kind of generalization is sometimes regarded as too weak to be taken seriously. It seems so much less rigorous than the kinds of generalizations physicists make. This is not immediately obvious to me, since the generalizations of science, too, can be probabilistic in nature. When a scientist says that the molecules in a gas will move faster as the temperature rises, she is not saying that each and every molecule in the gas will move faster for each increment in temperature. She is merely saying that the probability of an individual molecule moving faster will be greater at a higher temperature. One individual molecule may move as slowly as the average molecule in a cooler gas. In this example, one 12



or even two hundred nasty exceptions would not affect the validity of the theory. If even physical theories need not apply to all the individuals in a sample, it makes little sense for students of culture to demand an arbitrary level of uniformity in human societies. Recognizing the nondeterministic nature of social events means that one expects a range of different behaviors but looks for an outstanding change of direction or expression. Paleontologists assume that natural selection operates probabilistically but do not feel bound to make predictions concerning the future direction of evolutionary change. The essential fart is that, given a large number of individuals, and assuming that the behavior of these individuals is linked and not random, some significant pattern is highly likely to evolve. It is the business of the statistician to predict what that pattern will be; it is the business of the historian to determine what that pattern was. Therefore, in this book I am not tracking down the sources for the artists' imagery; nor am I attempting to examine how an artist came to conceive a particular work; nor am I attempting to uncover the motives of any particular patron. We cannot, after all, know what a man harbored in his heart; we can only know what he claimed or what others claimed. The object of this study is to identify those historical conditions which provided just enough incentive to favor, among different markets, artists working in one tradition as opposed to another, so that large numbers of artists could thrive working in that tradition. Having identified these conditions, we can use this knowledge as a key to understanding how particular kinds of visual cues came to have "meaning" for the citizens of ancient China. Consequently, though I am interested in the meaning of an art work, I need not peer into the psyche of either artist or patron. The artistic phenomenon being investigated is a collective one, not the origins of style so much as the reasons for its proliferation; not the meaning a set of visual cues had for an artist but the conventional significance it held for most members of a population. The idea that collective behavior can be understood largely in terms of material interest, while common as a premise of historical research, sounds like a rather modern idea. Did the ancient Chinese make assumptions about collective behavior? Did they know anything of the existence of markets or artistic preferences? The ancient Chinese knew nothing of probability, but they were well aware of the market preferences of different social groups, and significant portions of the first few chapters of this book are devoted to investigating early Chinese perceptions about such things as public opinion and consumer tastes. In fact, H an social critics regularly make suppositions about the materialistic ends that motivate the collective behavior of such groups as "the people," "the public," "the rich ," "the middle-income citizens," "the poor," or "the general 13



public." Indeed, the great Han historian Sima Qian (born 145 B.C.; died between 86 and 74 B.C.) asserted as much as a matter of principle: The desire for wealth is natural and does not need to be taught; it is an integral part of human nature. Hence, when young men in the army attack cities and scale walls, break through the enemy lines and drive back the foe, cut down the opposing generals and seize their pennants, advance beneath a rain of arrows and stones, and do not turn aside before the horrors of fire and boiling water, it is because they are spurred on by the prospect of rich rewards. Again, when the youths of the lanes and the alleys attack passers-by or murder them and hide their bodies, threaten others and commit evil deeds, dig up graves and coin counterfeit money, form gangs to bully others, lend each other a hand in avenging wrongs, and think up secret ways to blackmail people or drive them from the neighborhood, paying no heed to the laws and prohibitions, but rushing headlong to the place of execution, it is in fact all because of the lure of money. In like manner, when the women of Zhao or the maidens of Zheng paint their faces and play upon the large lute, flutter their long sleeves and trip about in pointed slippers, invite with their eyes and beckon with their hearts, considering it no distance at all to travel a thousand miles to meet a patron, not caring whether he is old or young, it is because they are after riches. When idle young noblemen ornament their caps and swords and go about with a retinue of carriages and horsemen, it is simply to show off their wealt h . 14

In this respect, modern social historians and ancient Chinese social critics are largely in agreement: both suppose that material gain is a powerful factor in the motivation of collective behavior. It is implicit in Sima Qian's essay, moreover, that what people do and say does not always correspond direcdy to their true feelings. The same assumption was made by many Han dynasty writers cited in the following chapters. It is important to take note of this, for it is sometimes implied that Han images depicted are direct expressions of the feelings and beliefs of their makers and no more. Such a position can be maintained, of course, but only by ignoring quantities of essays and inscriptions surviving from H an times.

Viruses and Artistic


Another source of confusion in the study of early Chinese art is the notion that artistic styles change because of "influence" from one or another source. When I was in school, perhaps the most common mode of explanation



in my field was by appeal to "influence" or its correlate, the "reaction." At that time it was regarded as an adequate explanation for almost any feature of style or iconography. In this sense it seems to me to beg the question, since it apparendy takes the recognition of cultural contact as an adequate explanation for the appropriation of style. To my mind, demonstrating that a motif has been appropriated from another culture is a far cry from explaining why it should have been appropriated. Nowadays the term is still used, though often in a weaker sense, being merely equivalent to saying "A was borrowed from B." In the early literature on H an art, however, the concept of influence was taken far more seriously. In this literature artistic style, like matter in Newtonian physics, was regarded as essentially inert, something that would not change unless acted upon by outside forces. "Genius" was the force that could change style, but men of genius appeared only rarely in history and in only a few parts of the world. New ideas were thought to be transmitted by contact from one artist to another or from one nation to another. An d just as Newton's universe enjoyed an absolute frame of reference, so did theories of style driven by influence. The frame of reference in the latter case was naturalism. Anyone can see that Giotto is an improvement over Cimabue in this respect, and that Raphael is an improvement over Perugino. Presumably the ancient Chinese felt the same way, or should have, and so sinologists generally assumed that the people of Han China would have preferred a naturalistic style if one had been available. The problem was that there seemed to be little evidence for naturalistic styles in pre-Han China. Therefore, despite the rather stiff character of the Wu family engravings (Figs. 3,4), they were hailed as an advance in the direction of naturalism, at least compared with the ornamental art of pre-Han times. Still very much under the spell of Hegel, early students of Han art assumed the Chinese lacked the genius necessary for so important an innovation. Such inspiration must have come from elsewhere and the famous classicist Michael Rostovtzeff had a ready answer—Greece. His arguments were compelling. H an pictorial art, after all, is full of movement, as is the art of Greece. Han art is figurative, and so is that of Greece. H an artists were fond of depicting horses, and so were Greek artists. The self-serving nature of Rostovtzeff's arguments seems all too apparent today. It is important to recognize, however, that the bias in his work is not simply a matter of attitude but is a function of his operating assumptions. I like to describe the underlying metaphor in his explanatory model as a virus. In fact, Rostovtzeff's theory is one of several approaches to Han dynasty art to which we might refer collectively as "viral" theories of style. These theories explain change in terms of transmissions—influences and reactions—generated by artists and carried by their works. In a typical scenario, one artist gets an idea for a 15



3. Illustration for the story of Duke Li n g and Zhao Dun.


Stone engraving from the fourth

Wu family shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, A.D. 147-167. Ink rubbing, Riibe l Asiatic Research Co llectio n, Fine Arts Library, Sackler Muse um , Harvard University.

4. Duke Lin g. Detail o f fig. 3. Ink rubbing, Riibe l Asiatic Research Co llectio n, Fine Arts Library, Sackler Muse um , Harvard University.



new style or an improvement on an old style. Another artist, seeing a work in that style, is seized by a compelling desire to reproduce it. H e then goes home and starts producing rough copies of what he saw. H is works, in turn, infect other artists, and so on . The linchpin of the viral model is the notion that naturalism provides an absolute frame of reference. A style is infectious because it is superior, and generally it is superior because it is more naturalistic. Therefore, all styles evolve in a linear fashion from stylized to naturalistic unless a population is isolated from knowledge of naturalism or is culturally backward (dominated by a religious hierarchy, illiterate, and so on). These assumptions, at least, seem to be the common property of most early studies of Han pictorial art. Nonetheless, these assumptions ran into serious problems as early as the 1930s and 1940s. The problem was best stated by Wilma Fairbank, who noted that two major monuments of Han art—the Wu shrines (figs. 3, 4) and the Zh u Wei shrine (fig. 5)—differed radically in style. The Wu shrines were highly stylized, while the Zhu Wei shrine engravings were quite naturalistic, even though, according to its inscription, it was the earlier of the two. Fairbank emphasized that the Zh u Wei shrine had been recut but felt this was insufficient to explain the profound differences between the two monuments. All later writers, including myself, agree with her assessment. But if she was correct, then the evolution of style in Han China seemed to contradict the old paradigm of linear evolution from stylized to naturalistic. There were many attempts to reconcile this discrepancy. Regional isolation was not an option, because both shrines had been built within the same commandery (Shanyang) in Han times (see map 2). Some, like Ludwig Bachhofer, suggested that the Zh u Wei shrine had been carved at a much later date, but many scholars did not accept this. A. C. Soper was able to reconcile the discrepancy by postulating that the Zhu Wei shrine reflected the more advanced ("realistic") styles of the best artists in the capital, while the Wu shrines represented the attempts of provincial artisans to copy the more sophisticated work of the capit al. Given the small number of excavated monuments available at the time, Soper's theory was brilliant, and there is much in it that remains consistent with more recent research—the capital-versus-provincial contrast, for instance. But a close look at the histories, together with the evidence of recent discoveries, will show that the linear evolution paradigm is incapable of explaining the new archaeological evidence. It simply fails to match the historical record. Consider, for instance, the notion that the Wu shrines represent a provincial attempt to imitate the taste of the capital. This inference is encouraged by viral theories, for metropolitan areas are generally considered more sophisticated than rural areas and, consequendy, more likely to give rise to artists of genius. 17




5. Portrait of an official. Detail of a stone engraving from the north wall of the Zh u Wei shrine, Jinxiang, Shandong, Latter Han.

Ink rubbing, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art,

Kansas City, Missouri (bequest of Lawrence Sickman), F88-45.


This may well be true of Europe, where civilization was, until recent centuries, largely confined to the cities. In China, however, a large sector of the educated population lived in oudying areas. When Soper wrote his article, it was not possible to test this idea, as the Zhu Wei shrine was a unique example of its kind. Now we have a number of monuments related to the Zhu Wei shrine in subject matter and style (see chapters 10 and 11). Supposedly, these monuments should represent the advanced model for the Wu shrines. In terms of naturalism, they are decidedly more advanced (see figs. 4, 5). Yet none of these monuments exhibits the classical subject matter that is the hallmark of the Wu shrines, and the Wu shrines lack the subject matter typical of the more "advanced" monum en ts. Consider the idea that the Confucian subject matter of the W u shrines ultimately took its cues from court art designed to support the central government. It now looks as though much of the Wu shrines' subject matter is critical of the court rather than supportive of it (see chapters 6-9). Consider style. The Wu shrines, completed in the mid-second century A. D . , illustrate an extreme case of "archaic" representation. Most figuresare shown in frontal or side views only; parallel perspective is not unknown but rarely is used; all architecture is in elevation and geometrically regular forms are used frequendy, even for such simple shapes as the eyes of horses and men (figs. 6, 7). The same is true for many other schools of engraving in southwest Shandong during the second century, including the stones from Teng County, dated A . D . 177 (fig. 8). Yet it is clear from excavated paintings that the basics of parallel perspective were mastered by Chinese artists not far from Teng County as early as the mid-first century B. C. (fig. 9 ) . The same techniques of parallel perspective—the use of mats, for instance, or the arrangement offiguresin a receding circle to create a plane of recession—remained popular in the second century outside of Shandong, for example, in Sichuan (fig. 10). Within Shandong, however, the use of geometric forms actually becomes more conspicuous between the first and second centuries, while naturalism declines (see chapter 3). Consider further: the relatively naturalistic monuments related to the Zh u Wei shrine turn out to be contemporaneous with the more archaic engravings related to the W u shrines (see chapter 9). Viral theories would predict that provincial art consumers should desire more naturalistic styles unless they were culturally backward or isolated from those styles. Neither assumption holds for Han China. The most famous officials and scholars of Han China lived in the Shandong region where the W u shrines were carved. Literacy in this region must have been among the highest in the empire (see chapter 5). Nor were they isolated as the term provincial suggests. Officials were required to serve in areas outside their home regions and were transferred regularly to various parts of the empire. Scholars traveled often to the capital or other parts of the empire. Even 19




6. Detail of a horse's head fro m the battle scene in the fro nt Wu family shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, A.D.

147-167. Ink rub-

bing, University of Michigan Muse um o f Art. Transfer fro m Slide and Pho to Collectio n, Department of the Histo ry of Art.

7. Horsem en. Detail fro m the battle scene in the front Wu family shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, A.D.

147-167. Ink rubbing, University

of Michigan Museum of Art. Transfer fro m Slide and Photo Collectio n, Department of the Histo ry of Art.



8. The kaiming beast (above) and immortals riding carriages and deer. Stone engraving from Teng Co unty, Shandong, dated A.D. I 77. Ink rubbing, Palace Muse um , Beijing.

some members of the Wu family served in office in the capital. H o w could so many scholar families in Shandong have remained ignorant of the more naturalistic styles in use only tens of kilometersfrom their home area? Assuming they were aware of these styles, why did they not demand of local artists a greater degree of naturalism? Why were the artists who made the Zh u Wei shrines (geographically close to the Wu shrines) not employed more extensively in that region? Why do we not find monuments with classical subject matter but a naturalistic style, as viral theories of style would suggest? If the old theories do not explain the record very well, what other approaches are available? There is, in the literature on European art, a kind of patronage study that takes into account the aims and desires of persons other than the artist. Such studies were pioneered by E. H . Gombrich and others interested in the impact of patronage on the history of st yle. Patronage, in this sense, allows the historian to construct a more complex and historically convincing model by taking into account not only the artist's genius but also the demands and wishes of his patron. Through this portal enter in also concerns about economic and social pressures. Indeed, it might seem but a step from here 21



9. Party scene. Drawing by Faith Peel of the lower register of a wooden panel painting fro m a tomb at Huchang, near Yangzhou, Jiangsu, first century B.C.

10. Party scene with sleeve dancers and acrobats. Stone engraving fro m Pi Co unty, Sichuan. Second half of the second century A. D. Ink rubbing, Sichuan Provincial Museum , Che ngdu.



to a full-blown social art history such as we find in the literature today. However, this approach to art need not be so different from the influence-reaction model; it is simply that the sources of influence are more numerous. Previously an artist was susceptible to influence only from other artists or works of art. Now influences may come as well from patrons. The forces that shape style could still be graphed and computed as vectors of varying lengths, some comingfrom an artist's teacher, some from his patrons, some from works he has seen, and some from the wellsprings of his own genius. It is almost as if a man's artistic achievement could be measured precisely if only we could determine the lengths and directions of these vectors. Many studies of patronage continue to add to our knowledge of art in this manner. Others have ceased to look for sources of influence on an artist and have turned instead to a consideration of collective phenomena—the open market, public opinion, group taste, and so on. This approach to art history was pioneered by scholars in the field of European art h ist ory. Overall the field of Asian art lagged somewhat in exhibiting an interest in art and its reception, but the situation is perhaps not so bad as is generally supposed. Currently, more and more historians of art in the China field are contributing to our understanding of art and its audience in China. None of this is intended to imply that all students of Chinese art fall into one of two camps. Perhaps a majority of scholars espouse neither viral theories nor an interest in art and its public, but contribute to the study of Chinese art in a multitude of other ways: iconographical studies, biography, dating, stylistic sequences, reports on individual sites, comparisons between art and literature, and so on. Nor do I mean to imply that scholars who do address the issue of art and its public are free of suppositions. They make just as many suppositions as the proponents of viral theories, but there are differences. In studies of art and its audience, the controlling metaphor is a bit more like a garden, since studies of this type often seek to understand how, out of the variety of possibilities afforded any population, certain trends flourished while others make a weak showing in the historical record. The mechanism of change is less like a vector and more like a filter. There are many justifications for turning from the artist to his market (whether it be an open market or closed one, as in a royal court), but I shall mention only three here. The first is that the "garden" approach allows one to deal with non-naturalistic styles in a historical rather than a normative fashion by taking seriously whatever evidence survives of contemporaneous attitudes toward art. This should result in a more evenhanded account simply because the scholar does not presume in advance that he or she knows the aesthetic priorities of a population. This is not to say that this approach is "objective" in some 22



transcendent sense. No scholar can approach material dispassionately, any more than can a lawyer. But just as courtroom protocol requires that both sides get a chance to speak, the protocol of historical research requires that the population being studied have some opportunity to speak for itself through contemporary documents. Second, the garden model is less easily appropriated by scholars with nationalistic passions. The vector of transmission often has been taken as a metaphor of conquest—the classical style of Italy conquers the Gothic style of France, the more naturalistic style of China conquers the more rigid style of Japan, and so on. With such a model it is difficult to describe something so commonplace as intercultural enrichment in neutral terms. Somebody wins; somebody loses face. A garden-like model places the locus of action in the center of a social group—not a nation or ethnic group—where possibilities both from within and without are filtered,selected, nurtured, or rejected. Finally, the emphasis on the aesthetic inclinations of a population (as opposed to the personal aesthetics of the artist) enables one to restore to the history of art a profound and often neglected human dimension. It can enhance our appreciation of art without summoning anachronistic standards of evaluation, and it can enrich our understanding of fellow human beings who lived long ago and far away. At least, that is one important goal of this book. According to viral models, for instance, the pictorial art of Han dynasty Shandong represents an interesting but failed attempt to master naturalistic techniques of portrayal. According to the view adopted here, the same art records a struggle for political and aesthetic expression by local intellectuals. The people who commissioned such monuments were not interested in imitating the Parthenon, about which they knew nothing, but they were very much attached to their own social and economic mobility and to fundamental issues of justice in human society. They were among the very first in history to utilize visual art as a vehicle of social criticism. Surely this ranks as an object of human interest alongside artistic inspiration and genius.


Questions Subject &


about Matter



he classification of subject matter in art reveals a great deal about a culture and its priorities. Each "genre" of representation fills a certain social need and must be viewed in the context of historical circumstances. The Catholic focus on the sacrament of the eucharist encouraged a need for representations of the crucifixion. Gardening, tourism, and the new rok of the land in the ideology of nineteenth-century America may have encouraged a need for landscape as a genre. The appearance of a new genre of painting often signals a new issue or concern. It is at just such times that the concerns of art and society converge. In China, from the eighth century A . D . onward, we have written lists of common categories of subject matter. We know which subject areas were treated as conventional genre and which artists were particularly adept at this one or that. No such lists exist for Han times. Instead, historians of art have been forced to create their own genre based on the archaeological record. There can be no doubt that a wide variety of new subjects appear in the art of Han times, although the meaning and use of most of them remain poorly understood. Traditionally, scholars have divided Han subject matter into several broad groups. A fairly typical breakdown would read something like this: (i) mythological scenes (dealing with gods and spirits [fig. n ] ) ; (z) daily life scenes (dealing with farming, hunting, kitchens, and so on [fig. 12]); (3) official scenes(fig. 13); (4) filial piety scenes, virtuous rulers, and so on, or "Confucian" 1


S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T Y L E


11. Abo ve : the Queen of Immortals in her court; below: illustrations to stories of virtuous women and men.

Stone engraving from Wu Liang's shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, ca.

A.D. 151. Ink rubbing, fro m Edo uard Ch avan n e s ,Mis s io n arché ologique dans l a C h i n e septentrionale

(Paris, 1909—1915), atlas, no. 76.

12. Kitchen scene. Stone engraving from the fro nt Wu family shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, A.D. 147-167. Ink rubbing, University o f Michigan Muse um o f Art. Transfer fro m Slide and Photo Collectio n, Department o f the Histo ry o f Art.

S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T T L E

14. Immortal tending a Chinese phoenix o n the ro o f o f a manor. Detail o f fig. 13.


S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T Y L E


scenes (fig. u ) ; (5) auspicious omens (a politically charged miracle important in Han art [fig. 8]); (6) Daoist scenes (dealing with a special category of immortal spirits and their various paradises [fig. 8]). Any specialist could fin d compositions that fit into none of the above categories, and every expert draws the lines a little differendy, but most subjects in H an art can be crammed into one or another of these procrustean beds. These categories and others like them have helped scholars to understand some features of iconography and to isolate topics for research. In some respects they have served the field well. In other respects, however, they raise as many problems as they solve. A principal division in traditional schemes, for instance, is that separating miraculous beings from ordinary life, but in most Han engravings the two categories are mixed. A good example of this is the carriage procession. In some cases, engravings of carriage processions represent the tomb occupant in his official capacity, but occasionally carriages pulled by rams or deer appear in the procession. Not long ago it was demonstrated that the ram carriage represented the deceased in the afterlife, yet, apart from the ram, the composition provided no clue that this was not an ordinary procession. In other instances an apparently normal celebration scene will include phoenixes or immortals on the roof of the house (figs. 13, 14). The mterrningling of the mundane and the magical in the same scene need not imply that H an citizens were unable to distinguish between the two, but it does suggest that two spheres of experience we separate cleanly were closely associated in Han times. Another problem is the suggestion, implicit in these categories, that different subjects in art can be understood as attempts to faithfully depict some feature of reality, that is, something the artist or patron believed to be true. Most of the categories listed above—Confucian scenes, Daoist scenes, and so on — distinguish subjects supposedly related to the beliefs or experiences of the patrons of artists. Mythological or religious subjects presumably illustrate spirits or places the makers of those images believed existed. Confucian subjects were represented, we are told, because the builders of a tomb or shrine "believed" in Confucianism, much the way someone might believe in Christianity. Daily-life scenes can be seen as reflections of conviction: they are supposed to represent records of the "real life" of that time, as do the so-called official scenes. Using this principle, a scholar can divide the subject matter of Han pictorial art according to different kinds of "realities" represented, whether real in our view, or thought to be real by contemporaries. In either case the artist is imagined as illustrating something he or his patrons believed to be true. Such views are rarely articulated, yet they seem to inform much of the scholarship of this century. This book is based on the alternate assumption that pictorial imagery is related to the concerns of specific groups who wanted it and paid for it. "Daoist" 2





imagery produced by the court will not necessarily resemble "Daoist" imagery made for local scholars because the needs and wishes of the two groups are different; they cannot be considered the same simply because both groups desired a happy existence for departed ancestors. I would suggest further that, frequendy, clear traces of different needs and desires can be detected in the style and imagery of works produced for different groups. Consequendy, if we survey the evolution of pictorial art in China in relation to different patronage groups, the boundaries between traditional subject categories become more complex.

The Pictorial

A r t of the


Consider some of the earliest examples of pictorial art in China. Most of these were engraved on ceremonial vessels and implements about the fifth century B.C. (figs. 15,16). One commonly finds animalfigures(fig. i7) o r ritual scenes on such vessels. The vessels could be utilized only by the nobility in their periodic sacrifices to ancestors or the gods of wind, rain, and earth. Hayashi Minao has argued convincingly that both the strange animals and the illustrations of ceremony were related to the ritual function of these vessels. The former represent the dragons and beasts inhabiting the natural world; the latter illustrate the ceremonies required to tame nature spirits and to call forth the fruits of the earth. The people illustrated are not commoners but men and women of noble birth, the only ones who could influence the royal manes. It was just so that the nobility justified their privileged positions. Viewed this way, the ceremonial scenes are not simply pious expressions of beliefs. Rather, they show the very means by which the natural and political worlds were ordered. The ritual vessels on which these images were engraved were only one of many vehicles for significant ornament in the Zhou courts. Each of these vehicles, from carved rafters to embroidered clothing, signified the rank and authority of the one who wore them. At least, this is the claim of the earliest surviving text to discuss the meaning and function of art in China. The text records the advice of an officer in the court of Duke Huan (reigned 710-693), preserved in a book believed to date to the fourth century B.C.: 4

[The ruler's] robe, cap, knee-covers, and mace; his girdle, lower robe, buskins, and shoes; the crosspiece of his cap, its stopper pendants, its fastening strings, and its crown;—all these illustrate his observance of the statutory measures. H is bejeweled mats and his scabbard, with its ornaments above and below; his belt, with its descending ends; the streamers of his flags and the ornaments at his horses' breasts:—these illustrate his attention to the regular degrees of rank. . . . Now when


S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T T L E

16. Drawin g o f the engraving o n the d m vessel in fig. 15.

17- Bronze hu ceremonial vessel, ca. fifth century B.c. Freer Gallery o f Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D . C. (Acc. no . 57.2.2).

S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T Y L E

thus virtuously thrifty and observant of the statutes, attentive to the degrees of high and low; his character stamped on his elegant robes and his carriage; sounded forth also and brightly displayed:—when thus he presents himself for the enlightenment of his officers, they are struck with awe, and do not dare to depart from the rules and laws. 5

According to this officer's theory, what mattered in court was not so much the actual character of the ruler, but the external attributes of character visible in his robes, countenance, and carriage. The Q in g dynasty scholar Ruan Yuan underscored the importance of external signs of authority in an essay on the concept of authoritative presence (weiyi) in classical China: "When writers from Jin times (ca. fourth century A. D . ) onward speak of human character and destiny, they always trace it to metaphysical principles of the mind. When Shang and Zhou writers speak of human character and destiny, they only refer to what is immediate, i.e., behavior and appearance. This is the content of [the classical term] 'authoritative presence.'" Ruan went on to show that "authoritative presence" was the basis of the system of political authority in Shang and Zhou times and that this authority was revealed visibly. By manifesting his dignity in visible signs, a ruler created a pattern to be interpreted by others, a model to be imitated at each level of the social hierarchy. In this way, a high-ranking member of the aristocracy could, by virtue of his appearance, induce appropriate social behavior at lower levels. Ruan's thesis helps us to understand the emphasis on the ruler's appearance in the passage describing the ruler's robes. Clearly, a ruler's appearance was significantly enhanced by the visible attributes of rank— the robes, carriages, and all the instruments of ceremony. H is inferiors, seeing these signs, would yield to his will, knowing that the one who bore them possessed inherited authority. That is precisely why sumptuary laws were so important in feudal China and Europe. If a man was entitled to wear certain symbols or own certain articles, it was only because he was entitled to these privileges by rank. The privilege of wearing a certain image, and the privileges attached to the rank symbolized by that image, were much the same thing. Between the fifth century B. C. and H an times, new kinds of images appear on articles of daily use that seem remote in feeling from the grave patterns of earlier times. A courtier of Han times, for instance, might sport a mirror at his side with cast images of dragons, clouds, or strange beasts (fig. 18). These, too, however, referred to the untamed power of the natural world and were designed to enhance a man's authoritative presence. The early Han Confucian theorist Don g Zhongshu (active late second century B.C.) explained the designs of his own time this way: 6

The reason Heaven and earth give birth to all creatures is to help man. That these creatures should be edible is for the purpose of nourishing

S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T T L E


18. Images o f an immortal spirit, dragons, tigers, and other animals and spirits o n the back o f a bronze m irror, Former Han dynasty. Ink rubbing, private collection, An n Arbo r.

the body; that they should be capable of inspiring awe is for the purpose of enhancing one's appearance. It is thus that ritual arises. The sword rests on [the ruler's] left side as a symbol of the Green Dragon; the dagger rests on the right as a symbol of the White Tiger. The hook rests in front as a symbol of the Crimson bird, and the crown rests on the head as a symbol of the Dark Warrior. The four are the ultimate in human adornment. 7

Like his Zh ou dynasty predecessors, Dong recognized decorative imagery as a means of signifying authority and inspiring awe among inferiors. This does not mean that art had no other function. The very appearance of Zhou dynasty bronze vessels, as well as their role in ritual, suggest that they were designed with due regard for that sense of care, reverence, and respect appropriate to a holy gathering. But then, perhaps these emotions are not far removed from that sense of awe described by Dong and the Zhou officer. Dragons, tigers, and other animals or spirits rarely occur alone in extant works of art from the Han dynasty. Most commonly, they are found together with other creatures among the swirling patterns of clouds that decorate the


S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T T L E

utensils of the nobility in Han dynasty tombs. Sometimes the dragon and tiger occur alone, in which case they may be interpreted as guardians of eastern and western quadrants of the cosmos. Frequendy one finds slender, furry humanoids racing among the clouds (fig. 18). These are the immortal spirits who are so light as to float freely among the heavenly mists. By Dong Zhongshu's time also, a man of rank might own lacquer cups with scenes of official carriages or mirrors with figures of hunters, for hunting was a favorite sport of the nobility. His clrinking bowls might sport images of supple dancers, the very sort who entertained dignitaries at official feasts. These pictures more likely reminded the owners of pleasant activities than of nature spirits. However, even these new illustrations were made principally to please the nobility, since no other group consumed art in any quantity at that time. Indeed, at that time most of the tombs containingfine art belonged to members of rich or noble families and the artifacts in these tombs bear the imprint of their standards and tastes. The most common sign of aristocratic taste in the art of this early period is a distinctive form of arabesque known to sinologists as the "cloud pattern" or "cloud scroll." To judge from Mao's commentary on the Book of Songs (third century B . C. ) , the function of these cloud designs was related directly to considerations of prerogative and rank: "The metal lei is a wine vessel. All officials use it in making pledges. The ruler's is decorated with gold inlay . . . and images of clouds and thunder are carved onto it ." Elsewhere Mao adds that: "Although distinctions in rank are generally reflected in the decor of the vessel, members of all ranks may own vessels bearing the shapes of clouds and thunder." All of these images were adapted to the tastes and needs of the pre-Han and early H an nobility. However, about the time Julius Caesar was mounting campaigns against the Gauls, a major transformation took place in the range and variety of imagery in Chinese painting. At this time figure painting—indeed, narrative painting—suddenly began to flourish in China. Tomb murals of the 8

19. Drawing o f a wooden vault o f the kind commonly found in pit-style tombs throughout the Warring States and Former Han periods. Fro m Li u Dunzheng, ed., Zhongguo fig. 49-1.

g u d a i j i i m z h u shi (Beijing, 1980),

S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T T L E

20. Abo ve : longitudinal section o f the decorated tomb at Yi'nan, Shandong; below: perspective view. The tomb entrance is to the left. Latter Han . Fro m Ze ng Zhao yu, Y i ' n a n g u huaxiang fajue


shi m u

(Nanjing, 1956), figs. 3 and 4.

period illustrate stories from the classics, feasting and entertainment (fig. 9), or hunting and fishing. This change in the kinds of objects and images found in tombs correlates with a change in the social background of those for whom the tombs were made (see chapter 3). By this time large tombs were made not only for the nobility but also for a new class of scholar-officials who now could afford monuments of their own. Indeed, for the first time the old pit-style tombs (fig. 19), the hallmark of aristocracy since Shang times, are replaced by newer tombs resembling more closely the houses of ordinary people (fig. 20), while the royal and ritual articles that filled the pit-style tombs give way to painted and sculpted images.

The A r t of the Scholars



In these tombs we find the first signs that the very function of art was changing. The art that begins to appear on the walls of tombs and shrines of that period does not merely mark rank or inspire awe but actually promotes certain

S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T Y L E


points of view inherent in the classical texts illustrated. The famous story of the three warriors and two peaches, for instance, which appears in tombs of the late first century B. C. , illustrates how three powerful foes can be defeated by turning them against each other. This is not a declaration of rank or a display of aweinspiring imagery. Rather, it is a reference to a historical story illustrating the efficacy of turning enemies against each other. By having such a scene illustrated in the tomb, the patrons of the work took a stand on international policy questions facing the government at that time, namely, how to deal with a multitude of hostile states. Likewise,figures3 and 4 illustrate the story of Zhao Dun and Duke Lin g. Duke Lin g was a tyrant as intolerant of criticism as he was fond of expensive architecture. Zhao Du n was an officer of integrity who criticized the duke on several occasions. The latter invited Zhao to an audience so as to assassinate him. When the plot was thwarted, he set his hound upon Zhao in a last attempt to kill him. The hound was slain, but Zhao took the opportunity to mark the baseness of a ruler who would stoop to such methods. In the illustration, the carved arabesques on the duke's dais suggest his indulgence in heavily ornamented surroundings, while the hound, caught just the moment before it would be slain, illustrates his baseness. During the second century A . D . such a story was no idle tale, but raised for contemporaries questions about tyranny and social criticism, topics very much on the minds of men at that time (see chapter 8). The function of such art could not be more different from that of the Former Han. Previous imagery had been dedicated principally to creating an effect of grandeur or opulence. The new imagery was dedicated to making a statement about issues of public concern. It appears, not because people's "beliefs" changed, but rather because the interests of the new patron group were different from those of the nobility. As one proceeds through the first and second centuries A. D . , the number and variety of such stories increase, as do the number and kind of object on which they appear. O n mirrors, classical stories replace images of nature spirits; on baskets and bowls, they replace scenes of courtly life. The great majority, however, were painted, stamped or engraved on tombs, shrines, or memorial stones commissioned by rich and middle-income families during the Latter Han dynasty (A.D . 25—220; see chapter 2). The popularity of funerary monuments as a vehicle for what one might call "issue-oriented" art is understandable in view of the multifarious religious and social functions fulfilled by such monuments. Funerary monuments were necessary for the proper rest of the departed, who could send blessings to the family in return. For this reason funerary monuments were considered expressions of piety. Piety, as it happens, was the key virtue required for a political career. Large numbers of local notables could be expected to attend a funeral so that many 9

S U B J E C T M A T T E R &• S T Y L E


people could learn rapidly about the level of piety expressed by grieving family members or students. Thus a shrine for a respected elder at once allowed the departed to rest in peace, encouraged him or her to bestow blessings upon the living, demonstrated the piety of the patrons, and, incidentally, verified the extent of their financialresources. The reward for such displays of piety was substantial: an enhanced reputation within the community and even the potential for a position within the imperial bureaucracy. The consequences of stinting on the funeral were correspondingly grim. The dead could send curses upon the living, who might also forfeit eligibility for public office, a real curse to be sure. Moreover, according to one reliable source, a paltry funeral was likely to make one's neighbors strangely uncooperative (see chapter 3). All this helps us to appreciate the plethora of new subjects one finds in the pictorial art of Latter Han scholars; the same concern for piety and public image is evident in the imagery of their tombs and shrines. Typically, we find illustrations of famous men and moments from the Confucian classics: there are noble statesmen like the Duke of Zh ou (fig. 21), who willingly surrendered the reins of state to the rightful heir; there are unknown yet talented individuals like the young boy Xiang Tuo (fig. 22), who astonished Confucius with his wisdom; there are martyrs like the loyal Gongsun Chujiu (fig. 23), who died at the hands of a ruthless tyrant (see chapter 7); and there are righteous women who chose to die rather than betray their duty (fig. 24). The heroes and heroines of these stories are disciplined, altruistic individuals for whom private gain remains inconsequential in comparison to public duty. Their stories often were illustrated on the walls of tombs, shrines, and memorial towers or tablets, but we

21. Kin g Che ng and the Duke o f Zh o u . Stone engraving from the left Wu family shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, A.D. 147-167. Ink rubbing, University o f Michigan Museum o f Art. Transfer from Slide and Photo Collection, Department o f the Histo ry o f Art.


S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T T L E

22. Confucius meeting Lao zi and the boy Xiang Tuo . Stone engraving from the Jiaxiang region, Shandong, second century A.D . Shandong Provincial Museum , Ji'nan.

know that they were illustrated in books as we ll. The ethos of these stories often was adopted in public by those seeking public office, for the central government, aware that corruption was a major source of revenue loss, had litde interest in recruiting men with a reputation for greed. This is why the stories illustrated do not merely proclaim the rank of the deceased. Rather, they demonstrate that the survivors have the virtues and ideals appropriate for promotion to a higher rank than they currently possess. Thus the display of such imagery cannot be seen simply as an expression of faith; it was an important element in the careers of many young scholars. O f course, not all images engraved on these stones were narrative scenes drawn from the classics. Strange animals and deities are frequently seen. Some of these protect the soul of the deceased from evil influences, as was the case in Former Han times. The tiger, for instance, often haunts the lintels and doors of tombs to devour hapless demons (fig. 25). Other spirits ensure the happiness of the tomb occupant in paradise, as in earlier times. The winged immortals found in Former H an art continue to be shown tending unicorns or phoenixes who will serve as mounts for the spirit of the deceased (figs. 13, 26). Overall, however, the nature of paradise as envisioned by local scholars in Shandong 10

S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T T L E

23. Abo ve : Confucius playing the chimes; below: Li u Hui saving a freezing woman (right); the baby Zhao Wu , his mother, and his rescuer, Che ng Yin g (left). Stone engraving from the fourth Wu family shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, A.D. 147-167. Fro m Chavanne s,iW«sion, no. 143.

24. An assassin mistakenly stabs a virtuous woman who placed herself in her husband's bed.

Stone engraving from Wu Liang's

shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, ca. A.D.


Ink rubbing, private collection, An n Arbo r.


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•• •

2 5. Th e Green Drago n who guards the East and the White Tige r who guards the West. Stone engraving fro m a tomb at Cangshan, Shandong, dated A.D. 151. Ink rubbing, Shandong Provincial Muse um , Ji'nan.

26. Immortal attending a unicorn beside intertwining trees. Stone engraving fro m the tomb at Mao cun , Jiangsu, second century A.D. Ink rubbing, Xuzho u Municipal Museum .

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differed from that imagined by the nobility of earlier times. Instead of the shifting, swirling clouds among which earlier immortals freely roamed (figs. 18, 27), we find the Queen of Immortals accepting the spirits of the deceased into her court-like paradise, where they bow before her as they would before a superior officer (fig. 28). To place the Queen of Immortals and her court together with the free-flying immortals of an earlier age as "Daoist" subject matter seems misleading. Likewise, it would be easy to confuse many new spirits of the Latter H an with the felicitous and apotropaic deities of an earlier period by lumping them together under the rubric of "mythology." What separates the marvelous creatures illustrated in the Latter Han from the deities of the Former Han is the fact that many are derived from classical sources and, like classical narrative scenes, spoke clearly to the initiated of contemporary political and moral concerns. The phoenix, for example (fig. 14), was a familiar image from classical poetry alluding to the desire of talented men to serve in government, that is, to get a job (see chapter 7). Many other stranger-looking creatures can be found in H an "classics." These are the heavenly omens whose absence or appearance signaled failure or success in such areas of administration as welfare or official recruitment. The hybrid beast, for instance (figs. 28, 29), appears miraculously only when the government takes care of the disadvantaged and destitute. The crimson bear, on the other hand, appears only when the government welcomes the humane and shuns the corrupt (see chapters 7 and 8). Understood in this way, these images have much in common, thematically, with illustrations of classical stories that, on the surface, seem so different. In keeping with new ideas about man and nature, anthropomorphic cosmic deities also appear toward the end of the Former Han . These deities, Fu Xi and Nii Wa (fig. 30), wear official caps and cuffs and, like the omens, can be found in the H an classics. They are, in fact, Confucian sages and thus are not to be confused with the Green Dragon and White Tiger of earlier times. Still other new genres appear at this time. There is the so-called pavilion scene (fig. 13), in which the sons or subordinates of an individual pay him respect. The ultimate significance of this scene has remained a puzzle, but W u Hun g has shown that a reference to an official or imperial palace figuresimportandy in its content and argues reasonably that the scene is related to the concept of sovereignty. Other details of the scene remain difficult to construe, such as the images of riderless horses or archers aiming at trees that commonly accompany the palace in this genre. At least some of these may have referred to funereal practices, but more than one explanation is possible. We are on somewhat firmer ground when viewing scenes from the career of the deceased. H e might be shown in his official carriage bringing bandits to 11



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27. An immortal spirit clim bing a clo ud. Detail o f a lacquer painted box from a tomb at Huchan g, near Yangzhou, Jiangsu, first century B.C. Yangzhou Municipal Muse um .

28. Th e Queen o f Immortals in her court with the nine-tailed fox, the sun crow, the m o o n rabbits, a hybrid beast, immortals, and attending officials o n a stone engraving from Jiaxiang, Shandong, first century A.D . Ink rubbing, from Ch avan n e s ,Mis s io n , no .


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29. Th e hybrid beast and various winged creatures. Detail o f a stone engraving from Shilipu, near Xuzho u, Jiangsu, second century A. D. Ink rubbing, Xuzho u Municipal Museum .

30. Th e sages Fu Xi and N ü Wa. Stone engraving from the left Wu family shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, A.D . 147—167. Ink rubbing, U n i versity o f Michigan Museum o f Art. Transfer from Slide and Photo Co llectio n, Department o f the Histo ry o f Art.

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justice or simply seated in his mansion. It can be argued that such scenes are not simply copies of official life, however, but rather something like pictorial eulogies. They are scenes chosen from the career accomplishments of the deceased with the idea of demonstrating his achievements and, by extension, the qualifications of his sons and students (see chapter 5). Viewed in terms of their function, they turn out to be more than bland reproductions of official life. Sometimes we get glimpses of life on a middle-level estate, the so-called daily-life scenes. We may see cooks stoking their fires(fig. 12) or men fishing or musicians and acrobats. But sometimes it is difficult to read these simply as scenesfrom "daily life." Frequendy, a closer look will reveal a phoenix, a dragon, or a two-headed bird perched on the roof or hovering about the otherwise ordinary-looking activity (figs. 31, 32). These oddities are omens or miracles testifying to the virtue and qualifications of the deceased and his family. Like the narrative stories, these omens make a point—they do not signify a man's rank but rather testify to those virtues his sons or students need to aspire to some higher rank (see chapters 4 and 7). An d like the narrative stories, these omens are drawn from sources regarded as classics in H an times. Overall, the range and function of pictorial imagery change radically between the Former and Latter H an dynasties, moving from an emphasis on symbols of rank to more literary and rhetorical statements on official matters. Spirits who care for the soul of the deceased remain important but change in character, becoming anthropomorphic and adopting the attributes of officialdom. This suggests that a different breakdown of subject matter—indeed, a different approach to subject matter—is in order. For this purpose, it will be a good idea to first review the whole problem of religious subject matter and Chinese ideas about the afterlife.

R i t u a l and Religious


of Funerary


From earliest times Chinese elites behaved as though their success and good fortune in this life depended on the happiness of their deceased ancestors. For this reason prayers were addressed to ancestors by Shang and Zhou kings. For the same reason, the dead were carefully provided for in their new existence. The body was sometimes embalmed and always encased in a heavy coffin and vault. It was this procedure that gave rise to the so-called pit-style tomb; more important persons were given a heavier vault (fig. 19). In addition, the deceased was provided with everything he or she might need in the afterlife. The needs of the deceased were imagined to be much the same as those of the living, so that Shang tombs include carriages, horses, ritual vessels, weapons, armor, and

i . Co n fucius m eeting Lao z i and the bo y Xian g Tu o . Stone engraving fro m the Jiaxiang re gio n , second century A. D . Shando n g Pro vincial Mu s e u m , Ji'nan.

2. An im m o rtal spirit clim bin g a clo ud. De tail o f a lacquer painted box fro m a to m b at Hu ch an g, near Yangzho u, Jiangsu, first century B.C. Yangzho u Mu n icipal Mu s e u m .

3- Im m o rtal deer n ibblin g the m ush ro o m o f im m o rtality. Lacque r tray fro m a to m b at H u ch an g, near Yangzho u, Jiangsu, first century B.C. Yangzho u Mu n i ci pal Mu s e u m .

4. Two naked dancers and a cockfight. Painting in ink and colors o n stone fro m the central chamber o f Ho u s h igu o to m b 1 i n M i Co u n ty, He n an , second century A. D .

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31. Entertainment scene with pavilion. Stone engraving from Liangchengshan, Shandong, second century A.D . Confucius Temple Muse um , Qufu, Shandong.

3 2. Hybrid birds o n the ro o f o f a pavilion. Stone engraving from Liangchengshan, Shandong, second century A. D . Ink rubbing, private collection, An n Arbo r.

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human servants. Little more than this is known about the kind of world the Shang and early Zhou people imagined the dead would encounter. By Latter H an times a good deal more literature about death and burial becomes available. Still, there is no evidence of an orthodox view on the nature of existence after death such as one finds in Christian writings. Even Wang Chong (A.D . 27—97), wrote more about this subject than other H an authors, was not at all certain of what his contemporaries really "believed." After reviewing a variety of theories about ghosts, their constitution, and what they do, he declined to make any definitive assertion about the ideas of his contemporaries: 'Th e ways of heaven are difficult to understand and ghosts and spirits remain hidden from us. Therefore I have noted all the different opinions, that my contemporaries may judge for themselves." This is not to say that some visions of the afterlife were not more common than others. A few notions occur with some consistency. Among these are the idea that the spirit of the deceased can influence the fortunes of the living; the idea that the deceased has two "souls," one light and one heavy, residing, in a sense, in two different states and places; the idea that the lighter soul can enter into a paradisaical state; and the idea that the souls of the deceased need to be protected from evil influences. The notion that the fortune and well-being of the living are contingent upon the contentment of the deceased survived from early times into the H an dynasty, as is evident from an inscription on a tomb from Cangshan dated A . D . 151: "We erected this tomb so as to give it to our dear mother, whose spirit is conscious; may she pity her grieving sons and grandsons so that they may prosper and all live to old age." The same understanding informs the inscription on An Guo's shrine described in chapter 1: "All those who view this shrine, if they should feel genuine grief, will last as long as metal and stone, and will have a myriad descendants. All the young boys who herd the horses and sheep [on our estate] come from good families; should they enter this shrine and but look, and not draw graffiti, they will live to be old; but if they make a mess like a pack of thieves, then the bad luck that ensues will extend to their descendants." Such inscriptions are consistent with Wang Chong's contention that, in most citizens' eyes, spirits required food and offerings from living persons: "They [the people] never desist from urging the necessity of making offerings, maintaining that the dead are conscious and that ghosts and spirits eat and drink like so many guests invited to dinner. When these guests are pleased, they thank the host for his kindness [with blessings]." Some citizens also feared retribution should they fail to care properly for the deceased: 'Th e Mohists contend that men, after their death, become ghosts and spirits, possess knowledge, can assume a shape and injure people." The inscriptions just cited add much to w








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what Wang Chong says in these passages. Obviously, the family, friends, and students of the deceased carried the major burden for his or her happiness and also would enjoy the fullest blessings. But the inscriptions suggest that spirits of the deceased would send blessings to whoever honored them with genuine remorse, whether or not related by blood. Likewise, the irreverent would get their just deserts irrespective of their relationship to the family. How could one ensure the happiness of the deceased? A number of conventions designed to meet this requirement can be inferred from the design of Han funerary monuments. Most of these are consistent with the notion that the deceased persisted, in some sense, in two different states, the so-called bun and po souls. The hun soul consisted of lighter matter and rose to the clouds to sport with other spirits. The po soul was heavy and remained in the grave. The classic text for this distinction is the Book of Rites, where the two souls are mentioned several times. The essays in this book vary widely in date, but scholars agree that some, at least, are pre-Han in composition. A chapter entided "Ceremonial Usages" in the Book of Rites contains a brief mention of the two souls: "[By and by], when one died, they went upon the housetop and called out the name [of the deceased] in a prolonged note, saying, 'Come back, So and so .'... Thus they looked up to Heaven (where the spirit had gone) and buried [the body] in the earth. The body and animal soul go downwards and the intelligent spirit is on h igh ." From a distance of two thousand years, the true meaning of this passage is difficult to fathom. Other scholars, such as Michael Loewe and Yii Ying-shih, have made more penetrating studies of these concepts than I can present h ere. Experts agree, however, that two souls were recognized, one that rose to the sky, or Heaven, and one that descended to earth. Another early text, known to scholars as the Zhuang zi, contains a passage referring to death in terms of the light and heavy souls. Like the passage in the Book of Rites, it suggests that thepo soul is not the same thing as the corpse—it only dwells in the earth along with the corpse. This particular essay belongs to a portion of the book thought to date to early Han times: "Livin g things are saddened by death and men grieve for it; but it is only the removal of the bow from its sheath and the emptying of the natural satchel of its contents. All is dispersed and changed. The light and heavy spirits [hun and po souls] will leave, and the body will follow them. This is the great return h om e." The pragmatic, materialistic view of death presented here is not typical of Latter Han China, but the notion of two souls is. So far as we know, ideas such as these were never codified, but they appear to have been widespread, and much of the decor of Han dynasty monuments seems to have been designed with these notions in mind. Only in this way can one explain the popularity of the imagery of paradise and immortal spirits. 17



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Michael Loewe's analysis of the Mawangdui banner shows clearly that, by Former Han times, some essence of the deceased was thought capable of rising to the sky to join the merry spirits dwelling t h ere. These early monuments depict animals and spirits in a lively fashion, nibbling the mushroom of immortality (fig. 33) or simply sporting among the shifting clouds (figs. 14, 15, 19, 27). By Latter H an times this particular vision of immortality becomes less common. More often one findspictures of the deceased riding through the sky on a cloud carriage (fig. 34) or bowing respectfully in the kingdom of the Queen of Immortals, situated in the far west in the mountain of Kunlun (fig. 28 ) . By Latter Han times the cult of the queen was widespread. Villagers gladly donated their wealth to leaders of the faith in hopes of winning a ticket to everlasting life. Images of the queen and her court are equally common. Hardly a complete tomb exists in northeast China without some reference to the queen or some other feature of the immortal kingdom. By reference to the queen's cult, Michael Loewe has been able to explain the many funerary illustrations in which ordinary people appear in the presence of the Queen of Immortals. One such engraving from Tongshan near Xuzhou (map 2) shows a man and a woman kneeling down respectfully during festivities at the queen's court (fig. 35). We know this is the queen's court because her attributes—the three-legged sun crow and the immortal nine-tailed fox—stand toward the left, where the gaze of the couple is fixed. They are surrounded by musicians and two mounted guards whose weapons are sheathed. Just behind the couple are two smaller individuals, seated respectfully. They must be subordinates of the principal guests, possibly their children, the very ones who may have commissioned this engraving. In front of the couple a woman steps gracefully, waving her long sleeves. She is a sleeve dancer, whose movements drew sighs from Han audiences at every upper-class festivity. In the upper right corner of the stone is a ram resting on its knees. This is not the Lamb of God, but may be an auspicious creature who draws the carriage of the deceased to paradise. The whole is delineated with thin lines on smooth stone against a textured background. Particular attention is given to the posture of the figures. They are not stiff, yet they sit respectfully and attentively. To a citizen of the Han, this scene could only present a vision of someone's deceased parents being treated as honored guests in the court of the Queen of Immortals. These images, then, would represent, in some sense, the lighter soul dwelling in happiness in paradise. What about the heavier soul that lived within the tomb? Provisions were made for this soul as well. O f course, human victims were no longer buried as in ancient times. Instead, ceramic models of granaries, pigsties, kitchens, and cooks can be found in many H an tombs. Sometimes the daily necessities of the 20




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3 3. Immortal deer nibbling the mushroom of immortality. Lacquer tray fro m a tomb at Huchang, near Yangzhou, Jiangsu, first century B.C. Yangzhou Municipal Museum .

34. Deity o n a cloud carriage pulled by deer. Stone engraving fro m a tomb at Tongshan, Ho n glo u , near Xuzho u, Jiangsu, second century A.D. Ink rubbing, Xuzho u Municipal Museum .

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3 5. Th e court o f the Queen o f Immortals, with the nine-tailed fox, the sun crow, musicians, dancers, officials, and supplicants. Stone engraving from a tomb at Tongshan, Miaoshan, near Xuzho u, Jiangsu, second century A.D. Ink rubbing, from Zhang Dao yi, X u z h o u han huaxiangshi

(Nanjing, 1985), fig. 9 6 .

deceased are depicted on the walls of the tomb. Some tombs contain slips introducing the soul to the officials of the underworld, stating his rank or the guarantees and treatment to which he is entided. One may suppose that such transfer documents were required for all tombs but simply have perished in most cases. All these things were provided for the benefit of the soul that dwelled in the t o m b . Another provision for the deceased found in most decorated tombs is protection against evil influences. These take the form of ferocious-looking creatures, variously armed with teeth and claws or swords and crossbows. They occur profusely on Former Han coffins like that of the countess of Dai (fig. 36). In the new-style tombs they often are placed strategically on doors, lintels, or posts, where they can intercept evil influences as they enter (fig. 37). The Green Dragon and White Tiger (figs. 18, 25) are perhaps the most commonly represented guardians. The Green Dragon guards the entire eastern quadrant of the cosmos, while the White Tiger guards the West. The two thus ensure a proper balance of beneficial cosmic forces throughout the tomb. In addition, armed human figuresmay guard or flank the doors to the tomb. The iconography of guardian and paradisaicalfiguresin Han art is not the subject of this book. Many fine studies of these topics exist already. It is important to bear in mind, however, that the "religious" hopes and fears expressed in such images were part of a complex tapestry that included hopes and fears about the prosperity of the survivors. This much is evident from the principal idea that the well-being of the living was contingent on that of the 24


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36. Guardian deity. Black-ground lacquer painted casket from Mawangdui tomb 1, Changsha, Hun an , first half o f second century B.C. Hun an Provincial Muse um , Changsha.

37. Guardian deity. Stone engraving from a tomb at Jiuniidun, near Xuzho u, Jiangsu, second century A.D . Ink rubbing, Xuzho u Municipal Museum .

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deceased. We may be inclined to dismiss this notion as so much superstition, but the social system under which these people lived in fact bonded the fate of the living to that of the dead. Han citizens were very much aware of this. That Han artists depicted the spirit of the deceased is also important for this study because it sets constraints on how we interpret Han representation. The illustration of paradise scenes would seem to support the traditional notion that Han subject matter can be divided according to different kinds of "beliefs." In this case, H an citizens clearly seem to have believed that there were two souls, that one soul could survive forever with the Queen of Immortals, and so on. If they believed such things and they also represented such things, it seems obvious that they represented those things because they believed in them. This is indeed the commonsense view, for us. But if one reviews early texts bearing on issues of representation, it is not so clear that all early Chinese "believed" in spirits in the same way we might. Nor is it clear that the rendering of some perceived reality was important in early Chinese concepts of representation.

The Funeral


as a


The problem of just what kind of "reality" H an engravings represented has vexed the study of Han art from its beginnings. Sinologists are apt to think that the issue is much simpler for historians of Western art, Western art being more "realistic," but it is not obvious that this is the case. Witness E. H . Gombrich: For where there is no clear gulf separating the material, visible world from the sphere of the spirit and of spirits, not only the various meanings of the word "representation" may become blurred but the whole relationship between image and symbol assumes a different aspect. To primitive mentality distinction between representation and symbol is no doubt a very difficult one. Warburg described as "Denkraumverlusf this tendency of the human mind to confuse the sign with the thing signified, the name and its bearers, the literal and the metaphorical, the image and its prototype. We are all apt to "regress" at any moment to the more primitive states and experience the fusion between the image and its model or the name and its bearer. Our language, in fact, favours this twilight region between the literal and the metaphorical. 26

Gombrich's warning to the iconologist is well taken. When he speaks of "primitive" mentality here, he is not referring to the Chinese or South Sea islanders. The temporal range of his essay is principally early modern Europe. He recognizes, moreover, that we moderns are not immune from "primitive" mental states. This was illustrated in the United States recendy when the entire

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Congress agreed that attacking the flag was the same thing as attacking the nation itself. How much more careful must we be when dealing with early times, East or West? Therefore, we cannot be far off if we assume Gombrich's caveat about the fluidityof symbolic meaning applies to ancient China as well. What is unusual about early China is the fact that literary evidence suggests a high degree of consciousness and even skepticism regarding the character of symbolic representations. Wang Chong implies as much when he compares the Confucian attitude toward the dead with that of the Mohists. Both groups attended to rituals for the dead. The latter supposed that they were addressing conscious spirits, that is, that the ritual was "realistic." The former did not believe in the consciousness of spirits, and so conceived the ritual as illustrative or representational: "The Mohists contend that men, after death, become ghosts and spirits, possess knowledge, can assume a shape, and injure p eop le.... The Confucians do not agree with them, maintaining that the dead are unconscious and cannot be changed into ghosts. If they contribute to the sacrifices and prepare the other funeral requisites nevertheless, they desire to intimate that they are not ungrateful to the deceased and therefore treat them as though they were alive''' (italics m in e). Wang Chong doubdess had in mind the passage in the Analects where Confucius tells his disciples that he performs the ceremonies "as though" the spirits were there, implying that he does not assume they truly are t h ere. This suppositional quality was central to the Cbnfucian approach to death, which stressed the expression of feelings and ideas in ritual. For this reason the Confucian funeral ceremonies were self-consciously representational. The deceased, for instance, was represented in the flesh by an impersonator. During the ceremonies the grieving adult male would treat the impersonator—usually his own son—as if he were serving his own father! The irony of this practice was not lost on the old scholars. This rather artificial arrangement allowed the ancients to illustrate an important point about father/son relations: "According to the rule in sacrifices, a grandson acted as the representative of his [deceased] grandfather. Though employed to act the part of the representative, yet he was only the son of the sacrificer. When his father, with his face to the north, served him, he made clear how it is the way of a son to serve his father. Thus [the sacrifice] illustrated the relation of father and so n ." The artificial quality of this arrangement grew out of a consciousness that recognized the fundamental ambivalence of funerary ceremonies. O n the one hand, it was necessary to show staunch affection for the deceased by treating him "as if" he were alive. On the other hand, the funeral marked the official segregation of the dead and the living. This ambivalence was expressed by the fabrication of visually ambivalent representations of objects the deceased would need in the afterlife: 27




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Confuciiis said, "In dealing with the dead, if we treat them as if they were entirely dead, that would show a want of affection and should not be done. O r, if we treat them as if they were entirely alive, that would show a want of intelligence and should not be done. O n this account the vessels of bamboo [used in burying the dead] are not fit for actual use; those of ceramic ware cannot be used to wash in ; those of wood are incapable of being carved; the lutes are strung, but not evenly; the mouth organ is complete but not in tune; the bells and musical stones are there but they have no stands. They are called "funerary vessels," [which is to say], they are for spiritual intelligences. 30

The significance of this passage lies more in what it reveals than in what it literally says. What it reveals is a consciousness that a burial object can represent something real while at the same time declaring itself to be fictional, hence the term "funerary vessels." They declare themselves fictional by their imperfection—by leaving something out that should be there. This is important for any understanding of funerary art. What the passage says literally, however, should be subjected to a critical reading. Unusable objects made expressly for burial— "funerary vessels"—have indeed been found. One might include in this category not only unusable musical instruments and pots, but also the ceramic pigsties and granaries one finds in tombs. However, perfecdy usable and even exquisite objects are also common in tombs, so this passage does not in any way describe the rule for burial objects in ancient China. The authors of the essay just cited were aware of this, however, and had an answer for it. Just a few paragraphs later the issue arises again, and the authors explain the reason for using both whole and imperfect burial objects: Gong Xian said to Zeng zi, "Under the rulers of the Xia dynasty they used [at burials] vessels which were such only for funerary [purposes], intimating to the people that the dead had no knowledge. Under the Yin [Shang] dynasty they used the ordinary sacrificial vessels, intimating to the people that the dead had knowledge. Under the Zhou we use both, intimating to the people that the matter is doubtful." Zeng zi replied, "Is that not the case? Funerary vessels are [designed, intended] for the souls of the departed; the vessels of sacrifice are for [living] men. H ow should the ancients have treated their parents as if they were dead?" 31

Here "Zen g z i" is stressing a point made in the earlier passage about the emotional and social ambivalence of the funerary ceremony. The real vessels indicate that one treats the parent "as though alive"; the fanciful vessels make it clear that one adopts a more skeptical view, recognizing, in fact, the doubtful

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nature of existence after death. Therefore, both kinds of representation, both "realistic" and "artificial," are employed. Now, what does this tell us about funerary engraving in Han China? We can never know what An Guo's family or the W u family actually "believed" the engravings on their shrines represented. We can never know to what degree members of those families might have confused the sign and the signified, the name and its bearer, or the image and the prototype. We need not despair, however, for we can know something of the discourse within which representations of the dead were discussed. Passages from the Book of Rites suggest a fairly sophisticated awareness of the conventional nature of representation. There is no hint anywhere of Plato's anxiety that representation might fall short of the "real thing." There is no suggestion of the position—common in Greek writings—that the goal of representation is illusion. Instead, some representations are marked as deliberately artificial. Their incompleteness is like a sign certifying that "this is not intended to represent the real thing." This conventionalist view of representation sounds sophisticated by modern standards, but it is not at all surprising given what is known about early Chinese theories of language. Chad Hansen and others have argued convincingly that early Chinese philosophy texts make sense only if we concede that they are founded on a theory of linguistic conventionalism. This point of view is not universal in early Chinese texts, but it is widespread and clearly expressed. In essence, this view concedes not only that the symbols used in writing and speech are conventional, but that even the way the boundaries between objects are drawn and, of course, the values attached to them are determined by convention rather than by any natural or religious ord er. Such thinking gives many early texts a self-conscious and relativistic tone. This same level of self-consciousness about representation informs many passages in the Book of Rites, Wang Chong, and other Han sources. Han scholars, moreover, were much given to symbolic display and were known to employ self-conscious and artificial devices in public. If, then, the engravings commissioned by the Shandong scholars appear a bit conventional to our eyes, perhaps there was more than a little method in their madness. 32



The level of sophistication one finds in Chinese discussions of ritual and representation demand that we view our own assumptions about the topic more critically. We cannot afford to assume that our own system of priorities was universally accepted in ancient times. But how do we reconstruct the priorities


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of the ancient scholars? One approach to the problem is to reconsider the system of divisions employed in texts and in art. Every system of categorization makes distinctions according to some principle. The value of that system must be judged according to the results it generates. The traditional categories for Han art seem based on a prima facie examination of extant, identifiable subjects, but in fact the divisions obtained are based on at least two suppositions. One of these is the notion that the meaning of an icon is fixed and independent of its social or even its pictorial context. In other words, an immortal is always an immortal; a phoenix, always a phoenix, irrespective of who made it or viewed it or where it was seen. The second supposition, mentioned earlier, is that a scene can be taken at face value as a serious attempt to "copy" some reality. The first problem relates to matters of "decorum"; the second to matters of "function." D EC O R U M

In the previous section I suggested that it is risky to suppose the meaning of an image—such as a phoenix—is independent of its social or pictorial context. The problem was recognized decades ago by E. H . Gombrich. In "Aims and Limits of Iconology," Gombrich rejected the notion that symbols could be treated like elements of a code in which the significance of each icon is fixed and modular. Instead of tracing symbols to their literary sources and patching them together, he maintained that "iconology must start with the study of institutions rather than with a study of symbols." By "institutions," he did not mean organizations like the Board of Trade, but rather something broader which he discusses under the rubric of "decorum." Decorum, for Gombrich, refers to those objects, images, intentions, gestures, or ideas which a social group accepts as normal and proper for a given occasion. A painting of Falstaff holding a stein might be appropriate for a restaurant, but not for a kindergarten. An image's meaning changes according to the social occasion. For this reason, Gombrich suggests, the historian should be "concerned with categories of social acceptance, as is the case with all symbols and sign systems. It is these which matter to the iconologist ." Ignoring the importance of decorum may lead to unhelpful amalgamations of subject matter. The images shown in figures 36 and 38, for instance, were designed for nobility whose station in life was hereditary. Elaborately decorated funeral articles proclaimed their rank symbolically and simultaneously demonstrated their command of resources (see chapter 2). The immortals represented on their caskets fly naked among the shifting clouds and winds, as free of material concerns as the nobility themselves, whose position was independent of 33

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3 8. Drawing o f an inlaid bronze chariot ornament from tomb M12 2 at D i n g Co unty, He be i, Former H an dynasty. Fro m Z b m g h u a renmingongheguo





(Beijing, 1973), pi. 85.

public opinion. The immortals in figures 26, 28, and 31, on the other hand, were carved for local scholar families whose position in the bureaucracy had to be earned. The engravings were to be seen, inscriptions tell us, by generations of scholars who might visit the decorated shrine. The family would be judged, therefore, by what others saw expressed in public on their monuments. They could not afford to be seen as indulgent, and so the immortals depicted are suitably clothed and decorous (see chapters 2,4, and 5). The meaning and even the appearance of immortals on the two monuments is very different because they were designed for different people and different occasions. Even among members of a single social group, one cannot assume that the same icon always carried the same meaning, particularly if one is dealing with different regions and therefore different local cultures. The shrines of the Jiaxiang region, for instance, are rich in imagery and inscriptions relating to the classics as well as to contemporary political events. Suppose one findsa phoenix (fig. 14) engraved in a shrine from that region. One is obliged to consider the political and classical inclinations of the region while interpreting the image, since phoenix lore in China includes a range of political meanings in addition to more general, felicitous associations. At Nanyang, on the other hand, it would be difficult to find a single image or inscription that displays an unambiguous

S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T T L E

concern with classics or with contemporaneous issues. For this reason it would be hard to argue that phoenixes at Nanyang signified much more than prosperity or good omens. The meaning is not attached to the phoenix itself but rather to the way the tradition of phoenix lore engages local categories of social acceptance (see chapter 7). Even within the same region, different social groups could attach different meanings to the same object. Carriage scenes in the tombs of court elites do not mean the same thing as carriage scenes in the tomb of a local scholar (see chapters 8 and 9). The latter referred to the public duties of an official; the former need not have done so. This is why the study of Han dynasty art must take account of the kinds of persons for whom it was made. A sinologist might well ask why the views of a student of Western art (Gombrich) should be applied to ancient China? In principle this is a good question, but in this instance it misses the point. Gombrich's approach is based less on the application of modern theories than on a deep appreciation of the views and expectations of Renaissance artists and patrons. As regards the topic of decorum, Renaissance patricians may well have had more in common with ancient Chinese scholars than with scholars of the twentieth century. There is no evidence whatsoever that Han artists or patrons were principally concerned with questions of mimesis, but there is much to suggest that they were concerned with decorum. The Chinese concept of l i (decorum) explicidy required that actions, clothing, imagery, and appearances be appropriate to the occasion. We have encountered this ideal in the statements of Don g Zhongshu and Duke Huan's officer on the nature of artistic imagery. There it was assumed that the decorations on a man's clothing or carriage would always be appropriate to his rank. However, to speak of sumptuary regulations is to confine oneself to the most basic level of decorum in ancient China. The concept was far subtler than this. Much more on this topic of decorum can be found in the Book of Rites, a manual of ritual requirements often cited by Han dynasty scholars. Parts of the book may date to pre-Han times; other parts resemble suspiciously the rationalizing essays of Han scholars. However, since my book deals largely with Han scholars and their rationalizing rhetoric, the Book of Rites is a particularly useful source. The Book of Rites is much concerned with the minutiae of ritual—what to wear on which occasion, when to recognize visitors should they arrive in midceremony, how many times to refuse a gift, and so on. There are chapters, however, devoted to the principles underlying the rules of decorum, and these reveal a keen sensitivity to the intentions and feelings expressed in outward

S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T Y L E


appearances: "The carriage of a man of rank was easy but somewhat slow; grave and reserved when he saw anyone whom he wished to honor. H e did not move his feet lighdy, nor his hands irreverendy.... His looks were grave When at leisure or at ease and in conversation, he looked mild and b lan d ." All this was appropriate to a man of heavy responsibilities. It expressed the seriousness with which he viewed others and his sense of concern for his duties. But a very different kind of demeanor and motion was appropriate to a warrior: "The carriage of a warrior was bold and daring; his speech had a tone of decision and command. H is face was stern and determined and his eyes were clear and brigh t ." Comparable passages are to be found throughout the Book of Rites and indeed, throughout the Corifucian classics. Chapters 5 and 6 of this book show how H an scholars tried to reify the ideals of these classics in everyday life, applying them to such matters as clothing and ambulation. Their attention to the expressive potential of minute features made them sensitive to every dimension of physical appearance. It would be odd if the men who spent their lives reading and preaching these classics should have remained indifferent to the appropriateness of either style or imagery in the monuments they commissioned. In this book I shall argue that they were not indifferent. On the contrary, an examination of their "categories of social acceptance" is essential to an understanding of the art they fostered. 34



The supposition that the function of art for Han artists and patrons was principally mimesis also leads to difficulties. Two-headed beasts (figs. 28, 29) and stories of filial sons such as Xin g Q u (fig. 65), would seem to belong to different kinds of "realities." Yet recent scholarship shows that omens played a role in the rhetoric and politics of Han scholars comparable to that of classical stories. Because of this we can now see that both omens and filial sons address issues of public duty and self-sacrifice, and both were derived from what Han scholars took to be "classical" sources (see chapters 5 and 8). Focusing on the problem of mimesis tends to segregate these topics when in fact they served a common rhetorical function. In this book, rather than read images as copies of real or imagined events, I shall interpret them as functioning elements within discourses adopted by particular social groups. This allows one to take matters of decorum into consideration because rules of decorum are themselves part of the discourse. It also provides a useful tool for analyzing Han art, since features of imagery or style can be interpreted as statements, assertions, citations, comparisons, argu36


S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T T L E

ments, and wishes—in other words, as pictorial correlates of literary strategies. This approach is particularly well suited to works commissioned by scholars, for just as a concern for decorum is consistent with the actual practices of Han scholars, so is an interest in art as a form of discourse. Needless to say, Han scholars did not write about "discourse" in the current sense of the term, but the few texts we have about the function of art ignore the issue of mimesis altogether and assume instead that art has a message; they assume further that the message is related to matters of political and social control. Duke Huan's officer lectured him about the different messages conveyed by the architecture of the palace, his clothing, and carriages. Mao's commentary proclaimed that decorations on vessels indicated the rank of the man who used them. Don g Zhongshu maintained that Heaven created animals of awesome aspect so that their images might express the ruler's status and character. All these texts presume that visual imagery conveys a message appropriate to a specific social function. If visual imagery could embody messages for the early Chinese, then it may be possible to distinguish different pictorial strategies according to the kinds of messages conveyed. In the examples mentioned in Zh ou and early Han texts, the message is a simple assertion of authority: the dragon is awesome and so is the man whose rank enables him to wear it; the sun and moon are brilliant, and so is the man whose rank enables him to wear their likenesses. Under circumstances where "daily-life" scenes can be taken at face value, they also can be rendered as simple statements: 'Th e occupant of this tomb owned a prosperous salt-production facility" or "The occupant of this tomb had an extensive harem." The statements made on a scholar's shrine, however, are more complex. Frequently they resemble the very kinds of messages one findson shrine inscriptions or in the classical books of the scholars. For this reason they can be treated as examples of classical discourse, which is to say, as images adapted to scholarly standards of significance. Like many classical texts, the engravings favored by scholars may not assert any fact at all, but consider instead what was or what might be. Sometimes, like an inscription, they present evidence for a point rather than assert it blandly. Sometimes an image may imply a contingent relationship such as "if x then y" (see chapters 8 and 9). Such statements are more complex than the assertions of authority alluded to by Don g Zhongshu. The analysis of such statements can be an aid to understand Han pictorial art. By analyzing differences of this sort, it is possible to distinguish three major traditions of art found in northeast China. These traditions will be divided, not on the basis of different belief systems, but according to the kinds of statements made and the kinds of authority employed to substantiate those statements.

S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T Y L E

The Ornamental,


and Classical


Apart from their rhetorical differences, all three traditions discussed in this book differ somewhat in their attitude toward wealth. These differing attitudes are diagnostic for each tradition. This is so because in premodern societies, visual art could hardly avoid making some statement about wealth. In his essay "History," Emerson observed that "the value which is given to wood by carving led to the carving over the whole mountain of stone of a cathedral." The transformation of scarce resources through human wit and labor is perhaps the most obvious sign of the exercise of wealth in art. But there are other ways the point can be made, and the ancients were quite ingenious in this respect. A reasonable dose of naturalism, for example, may be perceived as requiring a greater degree of skill than the laborious carving of costly materials. In this way skill may replace labor and "good taste" may replace costly materials as signs of wealth and status, as Michael Baxandall has shown for fifteenth-century It aly. Moreover, a naturalistic rendering can bring the softness of silk or the weight of grain vividly to the viewer's consciousness. In this way a patron can place permanently before the public eye those goods that testify to his well-being in daily life. All this is not to say that ornamental and naturalistic styles can be reduced to some common element as signs of wealth. In fact, they are quite different in this respect. As Emerson observed, ornaments can hardly avoid revealing the exercise of wealth, and they do so more insistendy as the marks of style (the ornaments) become more prominent. Naturalistic styles need not suggest the presence of wealth. There is nothing to prevent a Chardin or a Millet from portraying the poorer classes. Such subjects do not avoid making statements about wealth, however—they simply make more complex statements. So much is fairly obvious, perhaps, but it needs to be emphasized how charged any statement of wealth can be in traditional societies. If wealth and status are the same thing, as in pre-Han China, then an artwork that proclaims wealth will be tantamount to an assertion of rank. If wealth and status are not the same thing, as in H an China, then such a work makes claims that might be contested. This is what happened in Han China, where the display of wealth in art remained a source of friction between the scholars and their rival social groups throughout the dynasty, giving rise, in northeast China, to three distinct traditions of art: the ornamental, descriptive, and classical traditions. Each of these traditions can be discussed along four axes of analysis: the physical treatment of material, its pictorial strategy, its rhetorical features, and its political application. Prior to H an times there already existed an extensive tradition of highly ornamented art linked to the feudal system of privilege. During the Former Han 37



S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T Y L E

(206 B . C . - A . D . 9) the commercial sector appropriated for itself an artistic language derived from that of the nobility. The richly interlaced and variegated forms of this tradition (fig. 38) had once testified to the spiritual power and command of material resources enjoyed by the dukes and earls of old. In the hands of merchants this old tradition, stripped of overt reference to rank, was readily understood as proof of material success. Works exhibiting this style of decoration can be referred to collectively as the "ornamental tradition." Physically, works of this tradition are characterized by the extensive and cosdy manipulation of material (metal, wood, stone). Pictorially, they are characterized by nonmimetic styles of representation. Rhetorically, they typically can be rendered as simple declarations or assertions. Politically, they affirm an inherited status quo. We know something about the conventional associations of this tradition because by the first century B. C. scholars from the Shandong region were already castigating sumptuous styles of artistic decor. After that time we hear little about the art of the commercial sector during the first century A. D . , but by the second century it once again appears as a prominent target of the scholar's bile. By this time, however, the merchant's case was supported by new and powerful allies at court. The keepers of the imperial harem had benefited politically from the attempts of consort families to dominate the court, forcing emperors to seek allies among the eunuchs. Over time they came to dominate most of the palace offices in charge of the production of art and architecture. They also began appointing relatives and followers to official posts in the provinces, thus corning into direct competition with the Confucian scholars or "literati." As they waxed fat in power and numbers, the eunuchs created for themselves a new code of respectability fashioned from traditional cues of material success as well as distorted versions of newer ones, such as education, the ability to write poetry, and so on. Judging from a handful of monuments, it appears that eunuchs and merchants favored artistic styles that owed much to the ornamental tradition but, in addition, encouraged the evolution of more naturalistic modes of depiction so as to document material wealth in pictorial form (fig. 39). This tradition will be called the "descriptive tradition." Physically, the manipulation of material is less important in this tradition than in the ornamental tradition. Pictorially, however, it focuses on the quality of the material. In other words, it is mimetic, aiming at a close imitation of an object's texture, weight, and bulk. Rhetorically, images in this tradition can rarely be rendered as anything more than a simple assertion of fact, and for this reason, poUtically, they affirm the status quo, albeit an acquired status rather than an inherited one. The art that can be most closely linked with the interests and concerns of the scholars is that of Latter Han Shandong. O f all regions in Han China, Shandong

S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T Y L E

39. Rent collection and granary scene. Stone engraving from the south chamber o f Dahuting tomb 1 in M i Co unty, He nan, late second century A.D. Drawing o f an ink rubbing, from An Jinhuai and Wang Yugang, "Mixian dahuting handai huaxiangshi m u he bihua m u," Wenwu,

October 1972., fig. 10.

was most vital for the historical evolution of the Confucian literati. Confucius was born there; Don g Zhongshu, the most influential Confucian thinker of Han times, came from there; and the most famous Confucian scholars continued to congregate there in great numbers throughout the dynasty. The archaeological record tells us that it was also there that local scholars encouraged, with their patronage, a tradition of art finely tuned to their standards and needs. This tradition of art is linked to the literati by its classical subject matter, its austere style, and by inscription. Because of its self-conscious revival of classical sources for imagery and, possibly, style (fig. 13), this body of art will be called the "classical tradition" (see chapter 5). Physically, there is extensive carving, but the carving is shallow and avoids the tortuous turns and dovetailing traceries of the ornamental tradition. Pictorially, moreover, the style denies the existence of material by censoring any reference to weight, texture, or bulk. It relies upon images, rather than physical or pictorial material, to convey its message. Rhetorically, its compositions can be rendered as complex arguments and "if . . . then" statements, rather than simple assertions. For this reason, politically, it is able to convey criticisms of the status quo. All three traditions sported visual cues that said something very definite about concentrated wealth and its value to society. The inlaid vessels, lacquered cups, and sculptured architecture of the ornamental tradition, exquisitely crafted of expensive materials, betrayed the owner's command over material and technical resources, either by virtue of his social station or by the power of raw cash. For members of the commercial sector, ownership of such art was a positive token of material success.


S U B J E C T M A T T E R &• S T T L E

The mural art of the descriptive tradition can be viewed as a later development of the ornamental tradition, for it, too, openly displayed wealth and its attributes. While the intricate carving remained as evidence of precious skill and labor, the murals on the wall told the story of luxuries enjoyed daily on the estate: carriages, granaries, rich larders, pantries, stables, and, most of all, women (see chapter 10). To do this convincingly required a style capable of displaying in detail the material accouterments of the good life. Hence, for the purposes of making an overt display of opulence, "stylized" and "naturalistic" traditions—far from facing off in mutual opposition, as is sometimes supposed—could be the very best of accomplices. Middle-income scholar families also had definite ideas about wealth, but they were less positive than those of the commercial sector. For the Shandong scholar, ownership of ornamental art was tantamount to public admission of greed, and he could only suffer from such a reputation. Even if he wanted and could afford a modest harem, for instance, he could not afford to flaunt it as the eunuchs and merchants did. This was so because the imperial bureaucracy, not the marketplace, was his main avenue to success, and he was of use to that bureaucracy only insofar as he placed the public good above his own. To encourage such men, the government granted material rewards especially to those who publicly eschewed material interests. This did not mean, of course, that men suddenly ceased to seek a better income for their families; nor did it mean that society, as a whole, ceased to honor the affluent. It meant simply that, at the lower bureaucratic levels, those who flaunted the signs of wealth were less likely to meet official standards for recommendation. Consequently, the Shandong scholar favored an art form that (i) suppressed traditional signs of luxury; (2) emphasized conventional signs for filial piety, frugality, and sacrifice; and (3) surreptitiously hinted at financial strength. The art of the Confucian scholar was, in a word, inherendy duplicitous, and was encouraged to be so by the paradoxical demands H an society made upon its middlemen (see chapter 6). These three traditions of taste are historically linked in two ways. First, they appear in a certain order, the ornamental tradition being the oldest and the descriptive tradition the latest. Second, each tradition derived its significance largely by contrast to another tradition. In fact, it is because these traditions are dialectically linked that they appear in sequence. Classical taste, for instance, arose as part of a discourse intended to offer an alternative to the feudal discourse of pre-Han and early Han times. The descriptive tradition arose as part of an attempt by the nouveaux riches to establish standards of cultural excellence in opposition to those of the scholars. Neither tradition arose as "a reaction t o" older traditions of taste. It is not that people got tired of ornamented decor and looked for something new. Rather, a different class of patrons

S U B JE C T M A T T E R & S T Y L E


developed an alternative aesthetic, in part by rejecting elements peculiar to another tradition. This enables us, for the sake of clarity, to divide the development of these traditions into three stages. The first stage took place during the middle years of the Former Han (between 120 and 80 B . C . ) . This is the first time we find systematic critiques of the taste of the aristocracy. In literature of this period, the complex, mtertwining cloud and animal patterns of the aristocracy were interpreted as emblems for irresponsible extravagance and conspicuous consumption (see chapter 2). At this time the scholars did not succeed in overthrowing aristocratic taste at court. This is so in part, I believe, because they were only able to criticize aristocratic standards of taste. They had not yet articulated an alternate, classical standard of taste. This alternate standard did not mature until the time of the classical revivals of emperors Wang Mang, Guangwu, and Min g; this marks the second stage in the dialectic between ornamental and classical traditions of taste during the Han dynasty (see chapters 5 and 6). In fact, it is only during the reign of Emperor Min g that we find a standard of classical taste clearly articulated in his apologetic literature. It is also just at this time that we find the earliest monuments in northeast China carved in a style diametrically opposed to the aristocratic tradition of cloud and animal decor (see chapter 5). It is important to note that the principles of Emperor Ming's classical revival did not derive from any extant tradition of courtly taste. Rather, they were articulated for him by his Confucian advisors, many of whom hailed from Shandong in northeast China. H e accepted this advice and adopted these programs quite purposefully because he needed the political support of a large number of middle-income landowners in the provinces. This is a reversal of the situation common in Europe, where we find provincial areas imitating courtly taste. In China, because of the peculiar class structure, the court could end up imitating the provinces. The third stage of development in taste occurred during the second century. During this period the court largely abandoned any serious commitment to Confucian aesthetic standards. Courtly taste was no longer controlled by Confucian advisors but rather by the court eunuchs and their clients, mosdy merchants who supplied the court with materials and luxury goods. The eunuchs, merchants, and other nouveaux riches cultivated a new tradition of art which advertised their newly won wealth and political influence. This new art featured elaborate ornamentation in the aristocratic tradition as well as new, more naturalistic renderings of luxury items such asfine horses, dogs, carriages, buildings, and women. In the provinces, in the university, and in the higher echelons of government, the Confucian intellectuals bitterly opposed both the political


S U B J E C T M A T T E R &• S T Y L E

influence and the artistic taste of the nouveaux riches. The latter responded by attempting to establish cultural legitimacy for their own brand of taste. They did so by appropriating important educational and honorary institutions established, ironically, by the Confucians (see chapter n ) . Classical standards continued to be cultivated in the provinces by opposition intellectuals. Opposition to the eunuchs and their art was expressed both in the iconography of provincial monuments and in the violent actions of provincial officials. The following chapter details the first stage of this process and how the emergence of a public and public opinion made possible the critique of aristocratic styles of decor.



The H a n Public & I t s C r i t i q u e of Aristocratic


r-ri he sculptural style favored by the Shandong scholars reached its peak about the time of An Guo, but its history began long before. Sometime during the first century A . D . new kinds of subject matter and new styles developed in response to the emergence of public opinion as an arbiter of the scholar's fate. Still earlier than this, the taste for a "revived" classical style can be traced to issues of taste that came to a head during the first century B. C. It was at that time that the scholars of Shandong stripped from the art of the nobility any claim it might have had to neutrality. There was good reason why the educated gentry could not approach matters of taste on aesthetically neutral ground. The mere fact that the scholar's personal wealth rarely matched that of the old nobility made the old styles inappropriate for his needs. More importandy, the very institutions that had fostered the rise of new classes of artists and patrons had created controversial social conditions. Yes, former peasants were making more money in craft trades, but in doing so they created a shortage of labor in the countryside. Yes, some village homes now mimicked the fashions of the truly rich, but many had come to financial ruin in doing so. Social change had brought with it social displacement; social fluidity had given rise to instability as rival groups jockeyed for a place on the imperial bandwagon. When, in 81 B . C. , the court sponsored a public discussion on the causes of current unrest, art—its production, consumption, and even its style—figured prominendy in the debates. In these debates the architects of an innovative policy of financial regulation were to face Confucian scholars from Shandong. Professional economists, re73




cruited from the ranks of successful merchants, represented the government. The scholars had been chosen as spokesmen for the villagers and townspeople of Shandong. The choice of the Shandong scholars was no accident. Shandong was the homeland of Confucius. Even in H an times it had a reputation as a "battleground of distinguished scholars." The population of the area was dense and its economy rich from industries like salt, silk, lacquer, and iron. Large numbers of officials came from or chose to reside in Shandong throughout the dynasty. It was not only one of the most prosperous regions but, without a doubt, it harbored the most politically aware and articulate population in the empire. The central government was wise to pay attention to what the Shandong scholars had to say. Ostensibly, the focus of the debate was the recent nationalization of the salt and iron industries. The topics actually discussed, however, show how breadand-butter issues can color every higher aspect of life. The salt of the earth and metal for tilling soil may have formed the basic stock of the argument, but the requirements of debate drew upon more noble substances. The distribution of wealth, the justification of political power, and the entidements of citizens were all essential ingredients of the mix. Each of these topics bore heavily upon matters modern scholars might consider merely aesthetic. 1

The Distribution



In the debates the nationalization of salt and iron constituted two points of a three-pronged design for managing the vast income and expenditures of the empire. The third point was government control of grain prices. Salt and iron were the most important and lucrative industries in H an China, comparable to energy industries in our own time. By managing these industries the government succeeded in amassing the huge revenues necessary for its frontier defense program. Grain was the most basic commodity of exchange. By buying up grain when cheap and releasing inexpensive grain onto the market when prices rose, the government hoped to stabilize its price. Thus could it prevent financial ruin among the thousands of farmers whose taxes were the mainstay of the state treasuries. For the architects of this policy, the spread of luxury items among the populace was proof positive of the validity of their theories. Basing their claims on a materialist conception of progress, the government experts attributed the prosperity of the time to the more efficient circulation of goods and higher income provided under the managed economy. Lacquerwares, ivories, furs, fruits, and other rarities for sale in markets were the footnotes to the economist's




argument, constituting an impressive documentation of his claims. It was, also, the oranges and sables, lacquers and ivories that justified the exertion of political controls required by the new policy. The scholars rejected the economist's standard of success outright, regarding luxurious art as tantamount to ostentation: "We would like yet to report the tales told by the elders of our village communities. It is not so long ago, it seems, that the common people were clad in warm and comfortable clothes with no ostentatiousness and were perfecdy satisfied in making use of crude and simple materials and instruments. . . . Paying their last honors to the dead, they were sorrowful, never with pomp; in nourishing the living, meet, never extravagant." An d again: "In olden times the rafters were not carved and the hutthatch was left untrimmed. People wore plain clothes and ate from earthenware. They cast metal into hoes and shaped clay into containers. Craftsmen did not fashion novel, clever art icles.... Nowadays manners have degenerated in a race of extravagance. Women go to the extreme in finery and artisans aim at excessive cleverness. . . . Barbarian products are sought out to dazzle Ch in a." By championing simple rural values, the scholars left themselves vulnerable to accusations of provincialism, and throughout the debate the economists delighted in caricaturing them as rustics. Certainly, in their "plain clothes and torn sandals," they must have cut a poor figure beside the slippery silks of the court officers. But their rural experience had taught them that money required for the purchase of luxuries had to be generated on the farm. The very success of business and craft trades had been achieved at the expense of capital and labor in the countryside. 2



If carpenters and mechanics carve the large into the small, the round into the square, so as to represent clouds and mists above and mountains and forests below [see fig. 40], then there will not be enough timber for use. If the men abandon farming in favor of superfluities, carving and engraving in imitation of the forms of animals, exhausting the possibilities of manipulation of materials, then there will not be enough grain for consumption. If the women decorate small items, fashion minute things and make elaborate articles to the best of their skill and art, then there will not be enough silk for people to wear. 5

By placing luxury art and grain on opposite sides of the balance, the scholar's criticism of elaborate styles situated itself firmly in the real world. Opulence in one sector of society meant poverty in another; as one scholar put it, "When the people are extravagant, cold and hunger will follow." This argument and others like it were well framed to mar the finish on a lacquer spoon, exposing the mud from which it was made. It was no fundamentalist iconoclasm the scholars brought with them from the countryside, however, 6



40. Bronze boshcm incense burner with go ld inlay, from tomb 1 at Mancheng, He be i, Former H an dynasty. Photograph courtesy o f Cultural Relics Bureau, Beijing, and Metropolitan Muse um o f Art, Ne w York.

but a cultivated distaste for a tradition of art which had become synonymous with wealth and status. They mention specifically "minute," "elaborate articles" and architectural members covered with ingeniously designed cloud and animal imagery. At the time they spoke no one would have wondered about the nature of the articles to which they referred. The archaeology of the first century B . C. provides numerous examples of minute, exquisitely crafted carvings and paintings merrily laced with cloud and animal imagery (figs. 3 8,40,41). The delight aroused by the sheer virtuosity of these pieces was doubdess enhanced by higherlevel associations with paradises of immortal nature spirits.





41. Drawing o f the design o f an inlaid carriage ornament o f the Fo rmer Han dynasty. Detail, from M . Rostovtzeff, I n l a i d Bronzes H a n Dynasty

in the Collection

of the

of C. T. Loo (Paris and Brussels, 1927),

pi. III.

A lacquer wine container from the first century B . C. , for example, illustrates a creature with a tiger-like body and claws but with a human head (fig. 42). The creature is surrounded by small, wrinkly, mushroom-like objects that appear in many lacquer articles from the same tomb. These little mushrooms offer an important clue to the animal's identity, for they resemble closely the lingzhi, or mushroom of immortality, that grows in China even today. Taking this into account, the tiger figure, which we might readily dismiss as one of many grotesques decorating such vessels, may have signified paradise itself to contemporaries. At least one early text suggests as much. One of the early chapters of the Classic of Mountains and Seas describes a spirit beast with a human head, a tiger's body, clawed feet, and nine tails that guards the mountain of Kunlun, where the gods have their dwelling on earth. This beast is called the L u wu, and

T H E H A NP U B L I C & A R I S T O C R A T I C


42. Human-headed tige ramid clouds and the mushroom o f immortality. Lacquer box fro m a tomb at Huchang, near Yangzhou, Jiangsu, first century B.C. Yangzhou Municipal Muse um .

43. Human-headed tiger and one-horned beast. Stone engraving fro m Nanyang, He n an, Latter Han dynasty. Fro m Florence Aysco ugh, "An Unco m m o n Aspect o f Han Sculpture: Figures fro m N a n y a n g , "M o n u t n e n t a Serica. 4 (1939), pi. Xl l l b .




can sometimes be found in engravings from Nanyang that resemble, in other respects, earlier lacquer decoration (fig. 43). Its presence on this lacquer decanter, in the context of the mushroom of immortality and figures of immortals, may well be an allusion to paradise. O f course, this identification is not without doubts, since the figure on the lacquer decanter lacks nine tails, but Han illustrations of spirits mentioned in the classics often differ from surviving texts in details. Likewise, surviving stories may differ from one another in various texts. In any case, there is no doubt that the image was meant to delight the viewer, for other images of pleasure are ubiquitous in such decoration; whether it be an immortal scrambling up a cloud (fig. 27) or a deer eating the mushroom of long life (fig. 3 3), all hinted at an angelic state in which men's desires come true. Why should the scholars have objected to such thoroughly delightful imagery conceived in such exquisite forms? Because of the impact the demand for such work had upon local economies. It was precisely this technically fine, luxurious style of art that consumed quantities of labor, which is to say, grain, for the craftsman's time was paid for with that of multitudes of farmers. According to the scholars, it was this situation which caused the flow of labor from the country to the markets, for the farmers perceived full well that "while they toil, other reap the fruit of their labor." 7



Cues for "L u x u r y " in the Ornamental


In any number of passages during the debates the scholars imply a link, an uneven exchange, between the unprofitable labor of farmers and the cosdy labor required for ornamental art. It would appear, at least, that insofar as complexity and profusion of form operated as cues for "luxury," they did so, not because they appealed to jaded psyches, but because such forms were recognized as the product of immense effort. The design of works in this tradition is such as to stress the homology of art and labor. Even the dullest of sensibilities could appreciate the amount of expensive material, time, and thought required to transfer the design in figure 41 to metal. There is scarcely a speck of space which does not give birth to some animated form. Peering into the labyrinth, we see precious metal (in the illustration, white) cervids leaping into the bronze (black) void, but then we see bronze canines streaking along against a shining cloud. Not even the spaces between the cloud scrolls are barren, for a second glance shows these dark spaces to be sisters of the golden cloud scrolls, only in reverse. The piece is as tighdy packed as an Escher engraving or a Bach fugue. For works such as this, "minute" and




"elaborate" sound rather like understatements for what seems an uncanny display of calculated confusion, a confusion that reinforces the impression of endless profusion. Other varieties of visual elusiveness occur in painted designs such as in figure 44, where an irregular pattern of thick and thin S-shaped curves seems to spread across the central panel of the lid , with simpler patterns along the borders. It is only upon closer inspection that we might distinguish some curving patterns from others as deliberately figurative (fig. 45). O n the lower left-hand side one heavy curve is sufficiendy modulated that, with the addition of four feet and spots, it becomes a fox-like animal. Just above this a few strokes of the brush turn another S-curve into a lagomorph. This is the typical zoomorphic imagery referred to in the texts. But these zoomorphic designs are so cleverly designed that it is easy for the eye to mistake carnivore for cloud, as when the fox's right foreleg continues the arc of an adjacent cloud fleck parallel to wispy curls above. Typically, solid figuresassimilate themselves to lines while lines take on the commanding role of solid figures. The distinction between figure and ground is blurred, yet the image never loses its ghosdy presence. The result is a kind of calculated deception, a visual sleight of hand, in which the figure magically and unexpectedly acquires the look of life. Max Loehr expressed the delightful effect of this pictorial tease in his description of a Former Han dragon: "At close inspection this vivacious configuration proves to be the body of a single dragon with fantastic, organically indefinable extensions and flourishes. . . . The extraordinary thing is that this creature is partly organism and partly ornament, yet in all its ambiguity possesses a semblance of vit alit y.... The dragon is essentially an ornament that has mysteriously acquired life." From early descriptions of artworks in this tradition, we can rest assured that contemporaries also marveled at the artist's ability to surprise and tease. Early sources speak of a cunning craftsman "who made multi-layered boshcm incense burners [see fig. 40]. H e engraved them with rare birds and strange beasts, all of which seemed able to move about by themselves." Here the power of the artist to impart life to his figures borders on magic. From other texts it is apparent that the appeal of such works derived much from an appreciation of the ingenuity, imagination, and labor expended in their making. Consider the following passage from another criticism of extravagant consumption written around 120 B . C. (see fig. 38): 9


Great bells and tripods, beautiful vessels, works of art were manufactured. The decorations cast on these have been superb, with dragons, beasts and meander patterns engraved on them, one form interwoven with another. . . . The figuresdepicted shone with the brilliancy of the

45- Fox and lagomorph amid cloud patterns. Detail o f fig. 44.




sun, dazzling the eyes . .. there were zigzag lines, dovetailing traceries. Roughness was smoothed out; everyflawwas eliminated; the lines were exceedingly fine. . . . They were close together and yet each apart, distinct and clear. Though carved, the lines could not be felt, so smooth and even was the wor k. 11

Apart from the cosdy materials employed, the luxuriousness of the articles described in this passage was manifest principally in elaborate craftsmanship. The marks of fine craftwork at the time were apparendy precision carving, smooth yet clean transitions between shapes, and densely interwoven, variegated zoomorphic designs. Precision carving was difficult and no doubt cosdy to achieve; variety of form and cleverly interlaced patterns made high demands on the imagination of the artist. It follows that the more intricately the shapes were integrated, the more luxurious the article appeared and thus the more highly it was valued. In effect, the Former Han art market selected positively for visually complex compositions which, nonetheless, stopped short of confusion. It was important that the shapes, though dense, remain "each apart, distinct and clear," so that they could be resolved upon close inspection. This style of work was not limited to small articles. Descriptions of decorated rafters, beams, and walls from this period are studded with attributive words like "elaborate," "cunning," "luxuriant," and "profuse." Colors are "dazlin g"; the designs on pillars and walls, "tortuous." "Cun n in g," "tortuous," and "elaborate" are all different words for the same idea. For art consumers of the Former Han, a dizzying profusion of visual variety was the formal correlate of a socially charged material condition called "lu xu ry." In this way such formal properties as complexity of design (ambiguous figure-ground relationship), profusion of form, and variety of imagery came to signify economic value in concentrated form. The scholars did not deny that this tradition of art signified "luxury." What they denied was the social value of concentrated wealth. To them it was precisely the time and labor required that made ornamental art a drain on the rural economy; a parasitic industry feeding off the lifeblood of an enchanted populace. The scholars had changed the ground of discourse from a material to a moral standard; in doing so they emptied opulence of substance, leaving a shell of ostentation. 12




Once spilled from the courts of the hereditary nobility, material wealth had a way of insinuating itself into the smallest joints of the empire's more complicated machinery. Every feature of material life had its moral dimen-




sion and every social issue had its material expression. An awareness of this fact is manifest in the rhetorical strategies of both the economists and the scholars. Whenever the scholars tried to besmirch fine lacquer with country mud, the economists would gild it over again with noble sentiments. But perhaps we should not too hastily dismiss the nobility of those sentiments which, on both sides, were inclined to gut the privileges of the old nobility. There was, after all, a sense in which both protagonists shared an aversion to those vast concentrations of wealth characteristic of the old Bronze Age aristocracy. From the perspective of the court, extremely wealthy men— especially noble ones—were a definite liability. The truly powerful were adept at evading taxes and could threaten the operation of the government itself. Hence the Han and pre-Han fathers of statecraft had a healthy appreciation for the common taxpayer, being very much aware that middle- and lower-income citizens offered the dual advantages of inherent docility and great numbers. As for the Confucians, who from the beginning had drawn strength from the lower fringes of the elite structure, concentrated wealth was a prime cause of injustice. Had not Mencius decried the rotting of meat in the prince's larder while starvelings walked the streets? More to the point, were the very rich not prone to bullying middle-income elites with which the scholars identified themselves? To this extent both parties to the debate were in agreement. But for the government experts, the system of equable marketing provided a practical solution to the problem of the rich and mighty which could be attractively posed as a remedy for the moral problem of economic inequality: "Now we are all equally his Majesty's subjects, and are all equally his ministers. Yet there is still no equality in security of life, and no even division of labor. Should there not be any adjustm en t ?" It is no minor tribute to the progress of humanistic thought in Han China that statesmen, debating the wealth of their nation, should in the end appeal neither to deities nor to revealed scripture, but to a conception of justice which took as its point of departure the frank recognition of social inequalities. O f course, one could contest whether the system of equable marketing really dealt effectively with economic inequalities, and, for the government, the practical and ideological advantages of the system were at least as great as its moral attractions, as we have seen. But this is surely to miss the point. Few would accuse the economists of sentimentality. If they devised a system of checks and controls so that "the strong could not take advantage of the weak and the many could not ill-treat the few," was it not because a more educated and critical citizenry could no longer be depended upon to believe the spook stories of the old kin gs? Was it not because the collective pleas of late Zhou social critics had proved more enduring than the private ends of feudal lords? Was it not because 13






history had demonstrated the weakness of hereditary power and the folly of slighting human life? These advances in political and moral sophistication had been made at great cost during the centuries preceding the Han . But it was precisely because of these advances that the Shandong scholars commanded the intellectual and social apparatus necessary to criticize that custom of gaudy display which had overawed a gullible populace for a thousand years. Considered from this point of view, it was advances in political sophistication that ultimately brought an end to the technically sophisticated art of the ornamental tradition. The economists, of course, could not have known this, and they argued eloquendy that, under their managed economy, extravagant consumption could do no real harm. The people could purchase their luxuries and the economy could thrive because the system of equable marketing would prevent a serious and harmful concentration of wealth. The accouterments of luxury, if not morally elevating, were at least consistent with social responsibility. These arguments failed to impress the Confucians, who had focused more on the dislocation of the labor force than on the domination of the masses by the mighty. Yet the government experts did not deny the flow of labor from rural areas, nor did they dismiss its adverse social effects, but they had their own explanation for it—exploitation of the welfare system by truant taxpayers: "The grain stores are emptied for the relief of the poor and needy more and more every day, idleness being thus increased with more people looking to the government expecting support. It is certainly a matter of exasperation for his Majesty, for, while he exerts himself in the service of the people, they still, ungrateful and with no regard to a sense of duty, migrate and flee to distant regions and evade their public dut ies." The economists had a point. Under ordinary conditions, the system of equable marketing helped to stabilize the price of grain; in times of individual or collective disaster it provided relief for the needy. Nor could the system of taxation be considered oppressive. The rate of collection was a mere onethirtieth of the crop, as opposed to the one-tenth rate of former times. As if this were not enough, the government made national reservations,fields,and ponds available for public use so as to improve the livelihood of the people. It certainly looked as though the imperial tax structure was not only efficient, but fair and just. The peasants had never had it so good. The scholars, however, were quick to throw more mud at their refurbished opponents. They pointed out that, while the tax was only one-thirtieth, it was based on acreage, not yield. Consequendy, in bad years small farmers would be reduced to borrowing at usurious rates in order to pay their tax. The bottom rung of taxpayers was thus encouraged to take up brigandry or enter the service 15



of the great landlords; the rich, on the other hand, always had ways of avoiding taxes. The full brunt of the tax burden, then, fell upon the "middle-income clans," something very close to the hearts of the scholars. As for opening up government lands for public use, the poor were, again, in no position to compete with the rich, for only the latter had the capital necessary to develop the land for industrial purposes: "While the Commonwealth enjoys in name the rentals from the dikes, all the profit derived from them reverts to the powerful families." Both parties to the debate agreed that taxpaying citizens were entided to certain services and privileges, but their priorities differed according to their assessment of the social value of wealth. As these assessments differed, luxurious ornament assimilated itself indifferendy to justice or injustice, personal success or public shame. 16


Piety and Qualifications

for Public


The topic of filial piety added new dimensions of irony to the discussion of luxury items because under the imperial order piety (like artistic taste) was inextricably bound to matters of money. But here the focus of argument shifted from the ultimate source of wealth—farmer's taxes—to more immediate channels of income, such as official emoluments. Filial piety was bound to this form of wealth because, apart from its status as an abstract virtue, it was an official rubric under which men could enter bureaucratic service. For the Confucian scholar in particular, it was an area of expertise in which he could struggle competitively with wealthier men for office. The economist, of course, was not accustomed to consulting the Classic of Filial Piety as a guide to success. H e would justify his rank by producing a balanced budget, noting the growth of markets, the distribution of valuable goods, and so on. H is success in private business ventures, manifest in cosdy clothes and accouterments, only added further testimony to his competence as a financial advisor. Luxury items were both a means and a product of the economist's success. Beautiful novelties could never have the same meaning for the scholars of Shandong. Frequent references by economists to the shabby clothing and homes of the scholars underscore their more limited financial abilit y. The literatus, with his plaincloth robe and scholar's cap, would have been ill advised to accept the economist's standard of competence. Nor did he. The scholar was openly suspicious that the businessman in government might confuse the national interest with his own: "In ancient times . . . trading in profits and official 17






salary could not be combined. For only then would there be no conflict of interest between occupations and no tipping of the balance of wealt h ." Wealth was not a feather in the cap of the scholar. H e was inclined to "shun gaudy ornamentation" and embrace principles of merit independent of wealth: "A humble station does not circumscribe wisdom. Poverty does not impair one's con duct." It should come as no surprise that when the topic of qualifications for office arose in the debate, the social signs of filial piety were construed variously according to divergent views of wealth. For the scholars, filial piety was both defined and expressed in knowledge of the ceremonial forms prescribed in the classics: "Form is the thing that counts; the food offering is of slight consequence." These forms were status-exempt in that they could be performed by men of any station at any economic level. One did not require fine lacquerware to offer proper respect to one's parents. Classical knowledge was more important than wealth. The economists advocated a more practical standard of piety: "Filial piety lies in material things, not in meritorious appearance." What, after all, was the point of "meticulously washing the cup in order to fill it with mere water"? The economist's paragon of filial piety would offer his parents wine and, better yet, would put it in a lacquer cup. Wealth was more important than knowledge. It might strike us as a bit odd that the economist so confidendy equated money and piety. Yet the scholar's argument was the mirror image of this, for he sought to transform piety into wealth. H e could do this because, under the imperial order, classical knowledge had acquired an exchange value comparable to that of other important commodities. By "exchange value" I mean that the government had assigned material worth to classical values by awarding official positions and salaries to men whose conduct conformed to classical ideals. There is more than a little irony in this, and the economists were quick to recognize duplicity in the pageant of a grim-looking scholar whose very austerity was one of his most salable commodities: 'Th e Confucians and Mohists, with greedy hearts but dignified mien, roam back and forth with their sophist's arguments. Th eir perching here and perching there' can also be explained by their appetite not being satisfied, for the scholar's want is also honor and fame; wealth and rank, the object of his expectations." The economist was right again. Piety, which, for Confucians, was a close cousin of frugality, was as valuable a commodity as any glistening trinket. But the true irony lay far deeper than the economist suspected, for the material value the government assigned to piety implied a radical reversal of the pre-imperial social order. Under the rulership of the pre-Han hereditary aristocracy, middleand lower-income elites had no institutionalized ground on which to compete 20





T H E H A N P U B L I C &• A R I S T O C R A T I C



with the rich and noble. Confucianism, because of its value to a centralized bureaucratic empire, enabled the impecunious to use the one thing they did have as a weapon against the rich, the signs of poverty, because poverty could be assimilated to piety. Thus, within the Confucian framework of social utility (which was still being contested), the formal cues for luxury developed over a millennium continued to signify wealth but ceased to signify a moral right to society's resources. Hence the scholars' attack on ornamental styles was really an attack on the remnants of an old social order in which wealth was a measure of social value. A new vision of social justice required new standards of artistic taste. 25

The M e a n i n g of the Ornamental


The record of the salt and iron debates bubbles over with discourses on value—moral, aesthetic, and economic—but we have yet to articulate how the citizens of early China invested visual cues (like profusion of form) with meaning. If we are to see this matter clearly, we must first put aside certain habits of thought. We are accustomed to open the analysis of a work with reference to its subject matter, but the scholars seem much more concerned with questions of style. We are inclined to read a work for clues to the artist's mentality, but the scholars saw in it the biography of the owner. We like to seek the significance of an artwork in its impact on the individual psyche, but our scholars derived its significance from its impact on the social order. Is it simply that the Chinese failed to appreciate the true nature of artistic expression? Hardly: Han theories of music are much concerned with its emotional impact, and the link between personal character and pictorial expression is the basis of Chinese art criticism from the fifth century A . D . on ward . I think instead we are dealing with a perfecdy cogent view—shared by the economists and the scholars—that the aesthetic value of art was correlated to standards of social value and that these standards were tied to the distribution of wealth. This view would have been the only natural one at the end of the Bronze Age, for throughout that period the degree of access to resources enjoyed by individuals had been metaphorically expressed in a series of physical sequences manifest in art. It is common in early ritual texts, for instance, to find degrees of rank expressed in degrees of preciousness in materials: gold for the ruler, silver for feudal lords, bronze or wood for knights, and so o n . Degrees of fineness in workmanship could also be graded and so could be correlated with rank: "The rule for rafters of the temple of a son of Heaven was that they should be hewn, rubbed smooth and then polished bright with a fine stone, while in that of the prince of a state the rafters were only hewn and rubbed smooth, and in that of a great officer they were simply h ewn ." 26






Numbers of caskets or horses and the sizes and types of carriages or ceremonial vessels were also correlated to rank. From texts cited earlier, one can infer that degrees of elaborateness in carving likewise corresponded to degrees of status. The social import of such manipulations and multiplications of material can be apprehended immediately by virtually anyone because, in the end, they are expressions of quantity. More, in any shape, means "more." Small wonder that from the late Neolithic to the early Han—during the heyday of the hereditary aristocracy—it is matters of craft (smoothness, elaborateness,finesse) and material (massiveness, preciousness) that most occupied the attentions of artists (figs. 17,46,47,48). It is precisely such features of style that are most susceptible to distinctions of degree. Imagery also played a role in this symbology, of course, but it is significant that its contribution was secondary to the pure manipulation of material, as is evident from this pre-Han account of the significance of those mtertwining patterns so common in the ornamental tradition: "The metal lei is a wine vessel. All officials use it in making pledges. The ruler's is decorated with gold inlay and images of clouds and thunder are carved onto it. . . . Although distinctions in rank are generally reflected in the decor of the vessel, members of all ranks may own vessels bearing the shapes of clouds and th un der." The association with clouds is likely due to the traditional parallel drawn between the activities of nature and those of the nobility—both had the power to give or take human life: 'Thunder rumbles and rain falls, releasing life from winter's bondage. The ruler, on the basis of this, forgives crim es." By analogy with the life-giving power of clouds, the cloud pattern signified official authority to grant or take life, which is to say, the power of law. Since this authority was common to all officials, cloud patterns were permitted irrespective of rank. Differences in rank, then, were displayed primarily in gradations of material and decor, features modern historians would be inclined to analyze under the rubric of style. Features of style were more suitable to symbolizing degrees of rank because, while the import of imagery must be learned, the meaning of a greater quantity or higher quality of matter is apparent to all, especially to those who have not. Thus, if the symbolic content of cloud patterns was based on a metaphor, the message of material and workmanship went beyond metaphor to demonstration. Its meaning was also metaphorical, of course, insofar as the increased preciousness of a work signified, by analogy, a rise in status. But in addition the increased value of the work served as a demonstration of status, for, in feudal China, only those who had authority to command human and natural resources could own such artifacts. The economic value of a work was the same as its artistic value, and this was direcdy proportional to the social value and preroga29





46. Bronze£fui ceremonial vessel, late eleventh-early tenth century B.C. Freer Gallery o f Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D . C. (Acc. n o . 31.10).

47. Bronze bianhu


vessel, late fourth—early third century B.C. Freer Gallery o f Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D . C. (Acc. no . 15.103).




48. A set o f ceremonial bells on a restored bell rack from the tomb o f the marquis o f Ze n g, Sui Co unty, Hu be i, late fifth century B.C. Fro m Z e n g h o u y i mu, 2 vols. (Beijing, 1989), pi. m. i .

fives (status) assigned to its owner. That penchant for the grandiose typical of pre-Han China was well adapted to a social order in which social worth and economic power were much the same thing. By the mid—Former Han, the situation was no longer so simple. First, the ownership of works in the ornamental tradition was by no means limited to the nobility. Possession of cloud patterns could no longer guaranty actual rank but very likely continued to imply a degree of financial and social status. This change may well have encouraged a preference for that imagery of immortality which characterizes Han designs (figs. 3 8,41,4 2,44 ), for the iconography of pleasure would have had more universal appeal than the iconography of power. That immortal paradises signified richness and pleasure is evident from literary descriptions in which inhabitants of paradise are apt to stumble onto gold, iron, jewels, good food, or "whatever they wish for." Certainly it was the imagery of richness and pleasure which was dominant in such articles at the time of the salt and iron debates. If access to wealth was no longer determined by birth, it continued to be signified in works whose very existence demonstrated a formidable command of human and material resources. The scholars' critique of such art was as radical in its aims as it was profound in its implications. What they questioned was nothing less than the correlation between social value and wealth. They argued not only that concentrated wealth 31




was detrimental to the common good, but that it was by marks of knowledge, not of wealth, that a man's worth should be gauged. Just how radical this idea was for premodern times is difficult to appreciate from the perspective of the twentieth century. As late as the end of the eighteenth century, the idea still had great novelty and appeal for French radicals like Abbé Raynal: 32

In all the states of Europe, there are a set of men who assume from their infancy a pre-eminence independent of their moral character. The attention paid them from the moment of their birth gives them the idea that they are formed for command; they soon learn to consider themselves as a distinct species, and being secure of a certain rank and station, take no pains to make themselves worthy of it. This institution, to which we owe so many indifferent ministers, ignorant magistrates, and bad generals, is not established in China, where nobility does not descend by hereditary right. The fame any citizen acquires, begins and ends with h im self.... The rank of nobility is sometimes conferred upon the ancestors of a man who has done signal services to his country; but this mark of distinction, which is merely personal, dies with its possessor, and his children derive no other advantages from it than the memory and example of his virtues. 33

The meritocratic system Raynal describes had its origins in Han China. The decline of aristocratic privilege was destined to have profound consequences for the history of art in Europe. In H an China, the meritocratic system also left its mark on modes of pictorial expression, for the scholar's substitution of tokens of knowledge for tokens of wealth as a sign for social value would bring about a decline in the use of physical sequences in art and ultimately would encourage a much stronger reliance on imagery. This is not intended to imply that the scholar's values were more disengaged from reality than those of the economists. The critical stance of the scholar, his preference for knowledge over wealth, and, consequentiy, his criticism of the ornamental tradition were viable positions only because of the recommendation system of bureaucratic advancement. The literatus himself was so much a product of this system that its imprint can be seen in his attitude toward money, morality, and even artistic taste. The reason the recommendation system had such an impact on the scholar's professed values was that recommendation was based on a standard of values separate from the old feudal equation of wealth and rank. The government valued piety as a moral quality because, when the genuine article could be obtained, it could be expected to cut government losses (from graft and corrup-



rion), increase efficiency, and, in general, help maintain order among taxpaying citizens. Hence the government was willing to pay a price for it. A moral quality had acquired a market value, namely, the cost of an official's salary. Since acquiring the accouterments of classical virtue required less initial capital, the adoption of Confucian standards for official recruitment opened vast opportunities for middle-income farnilies to compete with the rich and noble and thus better their lot. However, traditional signs of success were of no use to those who would pad their purses in this manner, since such men were of value to the government only insofar as they devalued material wealth. The scholars could only pursue their livelihood by declaring that they had no interest in money, an irony which drew charges of hypocrisy both from the economists and from within the ranks of the scholars themselves. The scholars set themselves against visual cues for luxury not merely out of opposition to their rich competitors, but because, given their means of livelihood, a symbology based on visual expressions of quantity no longer had any meaning for them. For their own purposes, the scholars would have to develop a new symbology more susceptible to rhetorical applications, for only in this way could they influence the broad, amorphous public that could shape not only standards of artistic taste, but the very careers of many provincial scholars. 34

The Nature

of the Public

in H a n


The scholarly arguments surveyed above reveal a sophisticated awareness of differences in values and tastes among different social groups. Han writers did not initiate theoretical discussions of society and its various groups, but it is only under the empire that issues of collective taste, collective habits, and collective opinions assume a prominent place in the surviving literature. As is evident from the record of the salt and iron debates, there was, by Former Han times, a heightened awareness of fashion, reputation, and public opinion. Common people became conscious about their clothing and eating habits, officials would worry over the public mood, and essayists upbraided political pundits for stirring it up. Works of art were among those things that could influence public opinion, and so the taste for art cannot be separated from the new consciousness of the time. Such concerns are hard to find in the bulk of pre-Han literature. When the classical writers of China refer to social groups, theyfrequendyspeak of the zhu hou, or "feudal lords"; the shi, or lower aristocracy and court intellectuals; the merchants; or the peasants and commoners. Each of these categories encompasses a distinct occupational group. The feudal system of pre-Han China made the boundaries between such groups resistant to penetration; consequendy, these seemed the most natural and meaningful distinctions to m ake. 35




The reader of Han literature does not need a word count to be struck by the relative abundance of essays addressing the needs and natures of social groups. More significandy, the divisions among social groups are more various and less distinct than in feudal times. For many of these collectivities there were special terms. Some go back to pre-Han times but are used more frequendy in H an sources. Others occur in pre-Han texts but take on a new meaning in Han times. Still others seem to appear for the first time under the H an empire. We read, for instance, as never before, of the juzhe, or "rich ," in contradistinction to thepinzhe, or "poor," and the zhongzhe, or "middle-income groups," terms implying a common economic bond among people of different occupations. Such language makes possible discussions of middle-income consumer tastes, for instance, as opposed to those of the rich (see chapter 4). We read also of the min, or citizens: 'Th e reason a country is a country is that it has citizens [min]. The reason citizens are citizens is that they have grain [for taxes]. The reason grain ripens is because of a man's labor and the reason that labor can be instituted is due to t im e." M i n is not a new character. In pre-Han times it simply meant "the people." Its new meaning in Han essays, however, presupposes the abolition of the feudal tithe system, a fact which allowed those who had been "commoners" to assume a surname, register with the government, and stand as separate legal entities. Shi (literally, "knights"), which formerly referred to the lower aristocracy, now designated an educated man of any social background whatever. Many were scions of wealthy families, but others had begun their careers as swineherds, dishwashers, or even slaves. The compound shimin singled out that portion of citizens who were highly educated. There was the zhong, or the undifferentiated mass of common people. This was distinct from the su, the vulgar, or people of little education. The su were not ignorant—it is clear that many could read and held opinions about public affairs—but the word does not refer to men highly educated and eligible to hold public office (see chapter 5). Hence, it is sometimes applied to scholars of shallow learning who, it was thought, should not hold positions of responsibility. Finally, there are those terms that can be rendered as "public." That it is useful and correct to speak of the H an "public" has been established by the example of such eminent historians as Lien-sheng Yang, Chi-yun Chen, Cho-yiin Hsu, and Michael Loewe. Readers requiring a deeper knowledge of the use of this term are referred to their writ in gs. In this book I shall use the term public in three senses. The first is simply descriptive, as when one determines whether an artwork was designed for family use only or was to be shown to a heterogeneous and undetermined collection of visitors, that is, was displayed in public. 36





The other two senses of the word are conveyed by two different characters in Chinese but are best translated with the single English term "public." The first of these isgong (pronounced "goong"). Gong refers to what is public in the sense of being pertinent to the government and citizens as opposed to the court; what is controlled by regular and impartial laws, as opposed to what is personal, arbitrary, or feudal (si, pronounced like ans followed by a schwa). Although the distinction between court and state was not thoroughly instituted until H an times, the theory underlying it had been articulated clearly by the third century B . C. One essay of that period, typical in many respects, begins by arguing that government should be based on natural law, which is to say, universal principles as opposed to private ends. When the author finallyaddresses the issue of private considerations, he does not mince words: "When we look at things from a personal vantage point [si] we become blind; when we hear things from a personal vantage point [si] we become deaf; when we think of things from a personal vantage point [si] we become mad. These three maladies are all due to the effects of personal bias [si]. When these things develop to an extreme, then one's judgment will not be based upon public [gong] considerations. If your judgments are not based upon public [gong] considerations, then your fortune will turn to ruin and calamity will befall [your government]." 38

This single example is drawn from a body of essays treating the nature of public law and personal prerogative, or bureaucratic versus feudal government. The topic has been treated extensively in a masterful essay by Chi-yiin Ch e n . In H an times the distinction between court and state was reified in the isolation of the court's budget from that of the bureaucracy, both in its source of funding and in its aclministration (see chapter 6). When, in the second century A . D . , the court administration began encroaching upon the public domain, Wang Fu criticized the trend in a discourse on public law: 'Th e way the lord of the state carries out his rule is by conducting affairs in a public [gong] manner. When public [gong] laws are promulgated then there is no way for disorder to arise in the law. Now the way that flatteringministers benefit themselves is by means of private [si] influence. When the government proceeds according to private influence [si] then public law is destroyed." This was a major issue during Han times and one that left its mark on the pictorial art of the period. It will arise frequendy in the later chapters of this book. The other character that translates as "public" in H an literature is shi (pronounced "shrr"), not to be confused with its homonym, which means "scholar." This is the shi used to refer to "the public" and, by extension, to public opinion, public morals, or an individual's public reputation. It is used extensively in the essays and memorials of the first and second centuries A . D . and often is translated 39






as "the world." This is not improper if we think of it in the sense in which it is used by Emerson, the world of educated men engaged in public issues and affairs (see chapter 7). The term clearly carries this meaning already in the L i i shi chunqiu, written during the third century B . C. : "Those whom the world [shi] regards as worthy men are all considered so because they are able to promote justice and are unable to promote e vil." The "world" here consists of those men qualified to pass judgment on the political worthiness of individuals in government. During the third century B. C. this was a very small group indeed. Another passage from the same book tells us more: "What the world [shi] lacks most is principles and justice. What the world has in abundance are fraudulence and carelessness. The people's character is such that they value what is rare and despise what is abundant. Therefore, among the common people those who are pure, incorrupt, and upright become more and more illustrious the poorer they get. Should they die, the empire would praise them all the more. This is because [such qualities] are scarce." In many ways this passage anticipates the typical concerns of the Shandong scholars: the role of popular opinion in a man's political career, the concern with corruption in government, and the ironic value poverty could add to a reputation by association with purity. These themes will become familiar in chapters 6—9. Here it is obvious that the term shi hints at a population capable of creating a reputation for a commoner. The social identity of the shi remains ill defined, however, because it is not clear what class or classes of people could generate a reputation for a man in the third century B . C. At that time there were no regular channels through which men could enter public office and, consequendy, no class of professional scholars with whom one might identify this population. By the first century B. C. such a class existed and its influence was sufficiendy widespread that the government could no longer afford to ignore its opinion, as we have seen. It is at this time that it makes sense to translate shi as "public," and the standard translators often do so. This is because it now refers to a welldefined constituency. From the contexts in which it is used, shi now has three defining characteristics: (1) members of the shi are literate and, generally, classically educated; (2) members of the shi are concerned with public affairs; (3) it is the shi that determines a man's reputation or, more broadly, the current political climate. That classical education is important to the identity of the shi is suggested by certain passages in Han literature. In this regard it is sometimes distinguished from su, the "people" who may be literate but who do not read the classics: 'Th e reports on physiognomy which the public [shi] hears and about which the scholars all speak about are transmitted in the classics and commentaries and 41





thus can be relied upon. But many more examples could be drawn from the light literature and popular [su] annals handed down in formats of bamboo and silk, such as the scholars do not read." Shi usually denotes people concerned with political affairs, either those in office or those eligible to participate in government. Wang Chong often uses the term in just this sense: 'Those among the public [shij who discuss such matters [of worthiness for office] fancy that men of talent ought to be made generals and ministers and that less gifted persons should become peasants or merchants. Observing that scholars of great ability are not called to office, they are surprised." Wang Fu (mid-second century A. D . ) uses the term in the same sense: "A state prospers because of worthy ministers and declines because of obsequious officers. A ruler enjoys peace because of loyal ministers and is endangered by slanderers. This is the common opinion of modern and ancient theories and what the public [shi] recognizes to be so." The shi is not the only group mentioned in connection with official concerns. The su also could take an interest in public affairs. But su always connotes the vulgar, poorly educated sector of the population. Wang Chong complains, for instance, that "the vulgar court those who are successful and disdain those who have failed. . . . As long as Wang Chong was rising and holding rank and office, they all swarmed about him like ants. But when he had lost his office and was living in poverty his former friends abandoned him. H e pondered over the heartlessness of the people [suren] and in his leisure wrote twelve chapters entided 'Censures on Popular Habits,' hoping that reading these books would bring the people to their senses." Sometimes shi and su can be combined in a compound (shisu) to refer to a larger, more mixed group comprised of literate individuals of varying levels of education. I translate this term as the "general public" (see chapter 8). Sometimes shi is used in such a way as to include social groups outside the ranks of the highly educated, but this is rare. The fuzzy nature of these boundaries reflects the fact that Han society was highly mobile. Literacy and political participation were not confined to one occupational group. Levels of literacy, moreover, covered a broad spectrum. Nonetheless, shi, more often than not, indicates a more highly literate and politically active group among the citizens. The third characteristic of shi is that it is referred to as the social locus of a man's reputation. This is the key defining feature of the Han public. Shi was nothing other than that group which generated a man's reputation or, particularly in the second century, public response to central government policy. This alone made the political leanings of the shi a matter of growing interest for the government because, during the Latter Han, "reputation" (ming) had a very specific role to play in the Han polity. 43





The Public

as the Audience


for Funerary



It was principally on the basis of a man's reputation that he would be recommended to bureaucratic office, with its salary and special privileges. By the first and second centuries A . D . this practice had encouraged an almost obsessive concern with reputation and the transformation of traditional virtues, or their tokens, into commodities exchangeable for a government salary or other boons. Wang Fu addressed himself to this development when he said, 'Those who are scholars should treat piety and purity as fundamental and making social connections as peripheral. Those who are pious should treat caring for their parents as fundamental and competing for a reputation as peripheral." Similarly Cui Shi, who wrote a handbook for middle-income estate owners, took for granted his readers' concern with reputation when he advised that, during the lean months, "one should coincide with the Yang phase and extend grace by relieving the poor and those in need; devote attention first to the nine grades of relatives, starting with the closest ones. One should neither be stingy with the poverty stricken nor motivated for reputation by exhausting one's own property for the sake of imitating the wealthy." The funeral and its monuments were central to a man's reputation because, by mid-Han times, funerary services had become among the most public of occasions in the lives of the scholars. The History of the Latter H a n claims, for instance, that more than thirty thousand people attended the funeral services of Chen Shi. The number may be exaggerated, but could not be so far beyond the realm of possibility as to have been rejected by contemporary readers. It is said that among those present were his superiors and patrons (or their representatives), but the guests would also have included his followers and colleagues. Likewise, when the respected scholar Zheng Xuan (127-200) died, "all those who had studied with him, from the governor on down, put on their mourning robes to attend the funeral, over a thousand in all." Bamboo slips from a Former Han tomb show that as early as the first century B . C. , funeral guests might travel hundreds of miles to participate in the ceremonies. This was the tomb of a man without any hint of national significance. One suspects that guests would have traveled farther still for a national figure such as Chen Sh i. Elsewhere I have argued that there would be many occasions at the funeral for viewing the casket, the shrine, the tomb, and other demonstrations of piety. Wu Hun g has done much to elucidate the number and kinds of opportunities that existed at the ceremonies. After the death of a person was announced, first clan members would arrive to pay their respects; then friends, students, and colleagues would arrive. This would be followed by the formal funeral ceremonies, after which the casket would be carried, in public, to the t om b . 47








Visitors to the ceremonies would pay their respects at the family shrine and thus have an opportunity to view the engravings there. The casket and funerary gifts would be on full view several times during the ceremonies. Finally, those who escorted the casket to the tomb would have an opportunity to view the engravings in the tomb. We know that the decoration of tombs was a topic of concern for Han scholars because tombs are described in various Han sources. Since only a limited number of people could have seen the tomb, gossip and hearsay about the funeral and its furnishings must have played an important role in the process that molded a man's reputation at the time of the funeral. The role of the funeral in molding a man's reputation was recognized by Han dynasty authors. A single passage from Wang Fu (mid-second century A. D . ) will tell us much about the nature of public awareness in Han times and why the funerary art of the period cannot be understood apart from this public and its opinions: Nowadays those who write commendatory odes and eulogies fraudulendy fashion sophistical arguments and far-fetched statements. They strive to outdo themselves in promoting falsehoods, making a big deal out of nothing [for their clients] just so as to elicit wonder from the public [shi]. Stupid men and foolish scholars accept these [deceptions] and marvel at them. This [merely] perverts the minds of our youth and promotes the words of the dishonest. Now the way to be a true gendeman and scholar is that one should fulfill his obligations to his parents and cultivate good behavior in the home. Many scholars nowadays attend [primarily] to socializing and cultivating cliques and alliances. They steal public [approbation: shi] and pilfer a reputation [ming] so as to obtain assistance in their affairs. Then the glib and frivolous pick up on the trend. This is to usurp the integrity of true scholars and to bamboozle the hearts of the general public [shisu]. Now to be filial is to care for your parents' health and well-being and to respect them. Nowadays there are many who are most disrespectful to their parents. They pinch their pennies while the parents live, waiting for the end to come. When [the parents finally] die they honor their instructions at the funeral so as to show how filial they are. They hold a lavish party and invite guests from near and far, all so as to gain a reputation. Then the pundits go about singing their praises. 51

A good deal of Han social history is packed into this passage. Wang Fu knew, of course, that the imperial government typically filled its offices with middle-income citizens recruited, on the whole, every three years. This was the so-called xuanju, or recommendation system, whereby local talents could be




recommended to office on the basis of their reputations. Wang knew, also, what sorts of people could generate a reputation. At the local level, a young man's social standing would depend much upon his teacher (if he had no teacher, he was uneducated and thus had no reputation), as well as upon other local scholars. The favor of prominent regional clans also was a definite boon, at least informally. Such men generally were on good terms with the local officials because the latter needed their cooperation to carry out official duties. In practice, almost any official of rank could recommend a man for office, but for the bulk of government functionaries—secretaries and clerks—the selection process was largely in the hands of these local officials. Some, such as the officer of the bureau of merit, had as one of his chief duties the recruitment of local talent. Such officers operated both at the commandery (that is, provincial) and prefectural levels. Clearly this officer's opinion weighed heavily in any man's reputation. But there were other, lower-ranking officials who could set off or truncate a scholar's career. There was the sanlao, for instance, a venerable local scholar charged with promoting public morals. There was also the wenxue, whose duties were directed primarily at local education. Such officials were expected to keep an eye out for talented m en . At its edges, the constituency of the local public could be very fuzzy indeed. It must be assumed, for instance, that the secretary, the chief of police, and other sub-bureaucratic officials played their part in the formation of a scholar's reputation ("sub-bureaucratic" refers to those many local officials who did not receive salaries from the central government but who were employed directiy by the grand administrator or prefect). Below these, even the minor runners and clerks could carry sufficient weight to attract the notice of higher officers, even the emperor himself. In the reign of Wang Mang (9 B . C . - A . D . 25), for instance, the scholar Liu Kun gained a reputation as a teacher, gathering about him some five hundred students. H e was an expert in ceremony and liked to perform classical rituals in his district. At such times, it is said, "all the ceremonial officers and clerks in the prefect would gather around to watch." Wang Mang threw him in jail, judging Liu's appeal to the "masses" (zhong) a threat to his own power. Likewise, under Emperor Min g (58-76), Zhou Ze's reputation benefited from the opinions of the local clerks. H e made a living teaching several hundred students on his estate. "H e was kind and compassionate to the needy and the clerks all loved him." With such a reputation he was appointed to several offices, including grand master of ceremonies and s a n l a o . When Wang Fu says his contemporaries sought to elicit wonder from the public, he knew his readers would be dunking of the various local officers, clerks, prominent villagers, and the nonofficial literate population of their own districts. Wang is very much concerned in this passage with filial obligations. H e 52






assumes we understand that "filial and incorrupt" was the most common rubric under which men were recommended for office. The imperial government was aware that it stood to lose income through corruption within the bureaucracy. It also was not anxious to have its operations interrupted by riotous taxpayers discontented with sleazy officials. It reasoned that men who were filial toward their parents and frugal in their personal habits must be altruistic and so good candidates for office. The government was not naive, of course. Its officials were subject to regular reviews and unscheduled visits from professional watchdogs, but it hoped to recruit men of character to begin wit h . As Wang Fu notes, however, there was a serious flaw in this modus operandi. The ever-resourceful and ever-growing population of educated citizens had devised numerous ways to generate a reputation for filial piety without bothering to cultivate a filial character. The most effective way, to judge from the documents, was to orchestrate the funeral for one's parents with due regard to cultivating public opinion. If we did not know this, it would be easy to miss the point of Wang's argument, for in this one passsage he details three ways in which ambitious scholars could enhance their reputations. All three could and generally did depend upon the funeral. Wang mentions, for instance, professional writers who specialized in composing eulogies, many of which survive on extant funerary monuments. They wrote with a view to catching the public eye, even if it meant a little exaggeration here and there, because their services were more valuable if they could impress some of those "stupid men and foolish scholars" who influenced public opinion locally. The Wu shrine inscriptions, for instance, make claims that might have qualified, under Wang's standards, as slighdy exaggerated. Wu Liang's inscription proclaims that he "was most erudite and learned and had an exhaustive understanding of all he studied." The same claim was made for Wu Ron g, who, according to the inscription, had mastered no less than seven classics. This is impressive, considering that the official biographies generally give famous scholars credit for one or two classics. Eye-openers like these may have been written by the family itself, of course, but clearly would carry greater credibility if composed by respected eulogists such as those to whom Wang Fu alludes. There were other ways to enhance a reputation at a funeral. As Wang Fu implies, most scholars had to cultivate relationships and alliances by "socializing." The reason for this is that the Han bureaucracy, like big-city government today, was held together by a complex network of clientage. If the local prefect recommended a man to the office of gongcao (bureau of merit), for instance—a very powerful office within the prefecture—the two men assumed a relationship modeled on that of father and son. The prefect had demonstrated his kindness to the candidate. The jjongcao was then obliged to support the prefect's affairs in 55





every way possible. If a man felt he could not support his patron for reasons of principle, he would decline the office, for "support" could include not merely carrying out the prefect's orders but also supporting him should he oppose court policy. It also implied playing a key role at his funeral, including contributing to his funerary monument. As Patricia Ebrey notes in her classic study of Han patron-client relations, the funeral was perhaps the most important occasion within which local elites could fashion and cement bonds of clientage: Wearing mourning for one's patron thus established the context in which patron-client ties can be interpreted: they were as strong, as natural, and as socially beneficial as the father-son or lord-minister tie. And just as the more sons and grandsons a man had to mourn him, the more successful he appeared as a family head, so the more clients he had to mourn h im , the more he appeared to be honored by society in general. The assemblage of hundreds or thousands of clients for a funeral would still be seen as a political act, but one primarily expressive in nature; by coming together for the impeccable reason of burying a superior, men could assert their solidarity with each other and support for their superior's cause. 57

The funerary monument itself was also one way in which claims to clientage could be made. The long carriage processions present at virtually every decorated Han monument testify graphically to the extent of a man's political support (fig. i). By cultivating such support a man improved his reputation and could expect to obtain "assistance in his affairs," meaning primarily his career but extending to other matters as well. Bearing in mind the role of the funeral in establishing a man's reputation, it is easier to appreciate the monetary concerns Wang describes. Inscriptions on Han funerary monuments often mention the cost of the monument or the sacrifice the monument entailed, sometimes claiming the family had spent all it had on a tomb or sh rin e. It is not too difficult to imagine that some men reasoned they would have more to spend on a monument if they saved a bit while their parents were in their dotage. A bigger monument, after all, could mean a bigger reputation, for exceptional objects, along with extreme acts of piety, were the stock-in-trade of the pundits and opinion makers Wang mentions. All told, the picture Wang paints of ambitious, scheming scholars, political cliques, pundits, opportunists, and eulogists-for-hire is remarkable indeed. We are speaking, after all, of the second century A . D . in a society famous in folk wisdom for its rigid, despotic character. Perhaps Wang exaggerated. He probably did, in fact, especially with regard to the prevalence of stupid, venal scholars. 58




49. Detail o f a scene showing the officer o f the bureau o f merit and other officials engaged in fighting bandits. Stone engraving from the fro nt Wu family shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, A.D. 147—167. Ink rubbing, University o f Michigan Museum o f Art. Transfer from Slide and Photo Co llectio n, Department o f the Histo ry o f Art.

But if he hoped to persuade his readers of anything at all, he could not have pulled a complex system for promoting personal careers out of his hat. The corroboration of other sources, moreover, makes the outlines of Wang's social sketches highly credible (see chapters 4-6). What this means for historians of early China is that ordinary citizens enjoyed a level of public awareness and a network of conduits into the bureaucracy enabling them to mobilize public support for individuals as well as policies. Both new and traditional weapons of propaganda had fallen into the hands of private citizens through their access to the bureaucracy. This last point may seem puzzling at first. Were the bureaucrats not merely the lackeys of the central government? This is probably what they were intended to be, but it did not quite work out that way. The central government needed the cooperation of the rank and file in the bureaucracy, and the rank and file needed the central government as a key to social mobility. But the interests of the rank and file were not necessarily those of the central government. It could not be kept from fonriing its own views about policy. And if this was so, neither could the thousands of prominent citizens in the provinces, for provincial officials necessarily maintained personal and professional ties to landowners outside the




bureaucracy: theyfilled their ranks with men from this group, for instance, and they needed their cooperation in order to enforce government policies at the local level. These close tiesto provincial elites, so apdy illustrated in portraits of local officials at the Wu shrines (fig. 49), made provincial officials at least as susceptible to extragovernment pressure as to central government influence. In short, the institution of bureaucratic recruitment made possible the formation of a new class of individuals with political views and political power of their own. Because of this, writers in Han China not only could rouse public support for an individual but also for or against a cause, as Wang Fu tries to do in his collection of essays. Political pundits influential in local affairs could become political activists, organizing antigovernment action within the university or among local officials (see chapter n ) . The society Wang describes also gave rise to an entire industry designed to meet the needs of middle elites. The eulogists he mentions are among those who made a living off the by-products of the recommendation system. Local opinion-shapers benefited socially if not monetarily. There were also the fortunetellers and other funerary professionals offering advice to families holding a funeral. And then there were those who actually designed and constructed funerary monuments. Their role was complex. It was complex because the patrons wanted to provide evidence of the flow of cash, for this was a measure of sacrifice. O n the other hand, they needed to avoid the appearance of glorifying wealth, for this smacked of materialism, and materialism was not a rubric under which one could be recommended for office. The scholar's needs, in short, were ambivalent. In time, a new style of funerary decor developed in northeast China, nurtured by a new and growing market for funerary art. 59



The Engravings & Their M a r k e t


he conflict between piety and pomp found in Latter Han China did not come about overnight. The fifteen-hundred-year monopoly on fine art enjoyed by the old nobility had provided all men with a harsh education in the material prerogatives associable with opulent art forms. As early as the fourth or third century B. C. , a writer of the Daoist school attributed to the ritual art of the feudal courts a major role in the differentiation of classes. In contrast to the classless society he imagined for the distant past, the Daoist complained how, in more recent times, the sages had "gone to excess in their performances of music, and in their pageantry in the practice of ceremonies, and then it was that men began to be separated from one another"—separated, that is, into the noble and the mean. The writer must have understood in a more profound sense what is evident even today in the ceremonial art of that period (figs. 17, 46). Late Bronze Age vessels are intricate in design, splendid in appearance and fine in execution. Although technically sophisticated, they require little sophistication of the viewer. Anyone can appreciate the command of cosdy materials and rare technical prowess needed to make such articles. The tradition of intricate ornamentation developed in the courts of the old nobility persisted through the early years of the Former H an (figs. 36, 50). Judging from contemporaneous texts, power and grandeur were still the social content of technically intricate styles, but at the same time these styles had become even more a focus of concern for social critics. A Daoist essay written around 120 B . C. links elaborate styles and social injustice with a degree of candor rare up to that time: 1






[After the decline of the golden age of simplicity] we see the building of great palaces and houses with their massive rafters and door p illar s.... These were elaborately decorated and carved; one was dove-tailed into the other and all decorated with the lotus and hibiscus. One color vied with the other, and their harmonious blending in a whole was artistic and elegant. Rooms were decorated with every kind of plant and bird. The decorations were such as the most famous craftsmen, plying chisel and saw, producing the most perfect carvings and filigree work and every kind of fretwork, could not do. Nevertheless, all this lavish ornament seemed as though insufficient to satisfy the desires of rulers. . . . [Then there came an age of disasters]; the cottages of the people were built of reeds, rude and poor; travellers and guests could not be entertained. The frozen and hungry perished in great numbers, lying on the roads, shoulder to shoulder. . . . Officials were created for the departments with various robes and badges and with laws; they differentiated classes and masses and distinguished the noble from the m ea n .... The untimely death and annihilation of the oppressed people ensued. There was arbitrary murder of the guikless and the punishment and death of the innocent. 3

Even through the veil of translation, these are strong words. What kind of art inspired such language? No above-ground architecture from that time exists, but surviving remnants of ornament typical of the period are sufficient testimony to the ingenuity with which ancient craftsmen enriched the surfaces of architecture and artifact (figs. 44, 51). Clearly, the author of this passage was not insensitive to the intricate beauty of the art he pictures for us. There is no denying the exquisiteness of the work; but the author denies what that exquisiteness implies within the equation he sets forth. O n the one hand, he presents an appealing picture of richness and elegance; on the other, a stark vision of suffering and death. Extending the metaphor, he links sophisticated advances in H an political administration to the spread of oppression and in justice. For this essayist, a pattern of social decline could be discerned in any configuration characterized by a high degree of structural elaboration, whether in the bureaucracy or in art. And indeed, the link was a far cryfrom fancy, as we shall see. Ornamental styles demanding painstaking craftsmanship required large concentrations of wealth which, in turn, drained the economy. In government, the efficiency resulting from more sophisticated organization could often enhance the efficiency of oppression. The topos of the parasitic ruler was already well established by the time this essay was written. Similar, if less graphic, critiques of the impact of royal extravagance on the populace can be traced back several centuries in a variety of 4





50. Th e red-ground lacquer painted casket from Mawangdui tomb 1 near Changsha, Hu n an , early second century B.C.

Fr o m M a w a n j j d u i

y i boo ban m u (Beijing, 1973), vo l. 2, fig. 3 2.

texts. In every case the perpetrators of extravagant consumption are assumed to be the nobility, or at least the very rich. What distinguishes later complaints of the first century B . C. and beyond is a new consciousness that, for the first time, fine articles were being sought and bought by a much wider market—first rich merchants, and then even "common people [who] use fancy goblets, painted tables, tabourets and mats, and well-seamed and lined garments." The economic boom resulting from improved communications and peaceful conditions under the empire had produced an upwardly mobile population anxious to appropriate to itself the ornaments of material success. Both the historical and archaeological record suggest that the aesthetic appeal of these ornaments was derived from a language of material splendor and technical finesse originally developed in the private craft shops of the old nobility (figs. 38,40). That luxurious tradition of art which had once been the sole prerogative and mark of nobility now served as a signal that the up-and-coming had arrived. 5


The A g e of


These developments in art consumption owed much to the new imperial economy and society. The opening of communications across China was perhaps the key factor in the explosive development of commerce described in the Han histories. Not only were the old state boundaries with their taxes and levies eliminated, but the imperial peace made the roads safer for commercial





51. Detail o f a lacquer tray excavated at Huchang, near Yangzhou, Jiangsu, first century B.C. Yangzhou Municipal Museum .

enterprise. The exotic commodities now circulating throughout the empire were, as always, eagerly sought by the rich and noble, but in the literature we see the unmistakable signs of a widening market for luxury goods. We read, for instance, of fine clothes, good food and merry music even in "straw-thatched huts"; of oranges, pomelos, and curios corrupting the farmer's simple ways; of football games in the alleys and fashions in the villages, where young women liked to "squeeze their waists" and smear on cosmetics, to the distress of Confucian fuddy-duddies. We read, also, of watchmen moonlighting as brokers and rustics abandoning the farm to manufacture handicrafts for the market. If one lacked the talent for artisan work, the market offered other opportunities. There were those who sold the by-products of the wilderness; there were 7






butchers and grocers and druggists; booksellers are noted, not to mention the physicians, sorcerors, diviners, and prostitutes, who no doubt carried on a lively trade in services. Artisans and shopkeepers no longer labored mainly for the nobility but could make a living from the more numerous, if less moneyed, members of middle-income families. This phenomenon, together with the spread of luxury goods to the lower orders and a shift from rural to marketcentered occupations, speaks eloquendy of an increasingly mobile society experiencing a rising standard of living. Han writers seem to agree that the market was a lure for many who fled the thankless toil of rural life, but for those with substantial landed holdings, there were more respectable and potentially more rewarding channels of social mobility. After the middle of the second century B . C. , the empire made public office available to any literate man with competence in one or more Confucian classics. The imperial university was set up in the capital and local schools were ordered constructed throughout the empire. Thus, with little more than a village school education and a reputation for piety, a local man might enjoy the many benefits of being a bureaucrat. Small wonder that, by the end of the first century B. C. , in the words of a Han historian, "the transmitters of the classical heritage had increased and multiplied, like a tree producing branches and leaves in profusion. . . . For this, indeed, was the way which led to appointments and profit ." It is just at this time, when the adoption of Confucian lifestyles became a key to success, that the archaeological record shows major changes in taste. During the first century B . C. , for instance, bronze and lacquer ritual vessels become rare among burial gifts. Gone, too, are the vault-like wooden tombs that had been the mark of ruling elites since Neolithic times (fig. 19). In place of mortuary vaults, we increasingly find tombs of brick or, later, stone, in loose imitation of actual dwellings (figs. 20, 52). In place of richly decorated vessels,we find humbler clay or plain bronze pots, together with ceramic models of profane objects like pigsties or kitchen stoves. The old ritualsand ritual vessels, which paved the path of authority in pre-Han China, were of less help to the aspiring bureaucrat whose career success hinged on his public reputation and his official record. Yii Weichao interprets these changes as indicative of the decline of the old feudal aristocracy and the rise of the scholar gentry bureaucrats. I have argued elsewhere that this change in patronage gave rise to a new set of demands for funerary art, ultimately encouraging the use of pictorial art for rhetorical purposes. This point of view gathers much support from Wu Hung's contention that the tomb—as opposed to the family shrine—became the focus of ceremonial activity during the Han. This custom developed, he maintains, because activities at the tomb emphasized devotion to the deceased, while activities at the family temple emphasized one's ultimate lineage. Since the Han 9







5 2. Elevations and plan o f a decorated Han tomb at Cangshan, Shandong, dated A.D. 151.

( i ) Th e tomb entrance viewed from

inside; (2) the tomb entrance viewed from outside; (3) east wall o f the front chamber; (4) floor plan; (5) longitudinal section viewed from the east; (6) plan o f the ceiling over the front chamber. The arrow at top points north; the scale represents one meter. Fro m Zhang Qih ai, "Shando ng cangshan yuanjia yuan nian huaxiang shi m a ^ K a o g u 1975, no . 2, fig. 1.

emperors were not of royal ancestry, they gained little from emphasizing their ancestry and instead focused on their filial devotion to immediate ancestors. Clearly, local Han scholars would benefit from the same advantages, since they too did not hail from royal ancestors but stood to gain from a display of filial piety. Thus the house-style tomb, with its surfaces devoted to pictorial illustration (figs. Z5, 52.), was intimately related to the decline of aristocratic culture. This is not to say that the new group of tomb occupants no longer required emblems of status and marks of character; it is simply that richly decorated articles were no longer the most important medium for such statements. Instead, the new-style graves of this period rely increasingly on mural decoration to record the dignity and virtues of the deceased and to protect his interests in the afterlife. 12




The artisans who decorated these tombs were likely the descendants of those who had fled the countryside to seek their fortune in craft trades. O f the many who catered to the growing art market, most must have worked out of tiny stalls in the towns, while a few made fortunes providing courtiers with expensive novelties. In between were those who painted walls or carved stone for middleincome families, the educated gentry. We see and hear little of such artisans during the Former H an , but by the mid-first century A . D . , local gentry constituted a major market. Thus the spread of educational opportunities under the empire may have ultimately stimulated, even required, the emergence of an important group of artisans—neither the petty vendors of the market nor the brassy purveyors of courtly trinkets, but middle artisans serving the religious and social needs of the Confucian scholars. The many decorated shrines and tombs we find in the second century are products of a golden age of cooperation between these two groups, whose origins can be traced back to the middle years of the Former Han .

The Mortuary North C h i n a

Monument Plain


in the

The funerary art "market" of interest to us is defined relatively clearly by a concentration of monuments of similar style in the archaeological record (maps i , 2). Geographically speaking, these monuments spread throughout a portion of what is known as the North China Plain. More specifically, this market was bounded in the west by the Taihengshan Mountains and in the east by the Yellow Sea. It thins out in the north blocked by Mount Tai, although some monuments can be found northeast toward the Bohai Gulf. The southern edge is bounded by the H an dynasty course of the Huai River. The greatest concentration of monuments occurs in what is now northern Jiangsu and southern Shandong. Even today the people of this region enjoy strong cultural and economicties,speaking with much the same accent and favoring raw garlic, steamed bread, and dumplings laced with pungent herbs. It is hardly fortuitous that the greatest concentration of engraved funerary stones from the Latter Han is to be found in this region. A population map of the Former H an shows that the population of the empire was concentrated in this region (map 1). The area had been a center of commerce and culture since Zhou times. During the H an , this region was a rich producer of the most lucrative commodities. It was especially famous for its embroidered silks, but produced quantities of lacquer, salt, and iron as well. With its dense population and productive (if poorly drained) soil, the North China Plain was the favored home of famous politicians, powerful courtiers, kings, influential scholars, and





Map l

REGISTERED PO PULATIO N OF| H AN CH IN A (A.D. 2) Each dot re pre se nts 10,000 pe o ple

Map i . Population map o f Han

Chin a, A.D. Z, with the names o f modern cities superim-

posed. Based o n Che n Cheng-siang, Zhongguo


M i (Ho n g Ko n g, 19 81), map 1.

local opinion makers of the Latter Han. It was also home for large numbers of Confucian scholar gentry, who profited direcdy and indirecdy from the economic resources of the region. In the Latter Han dynasty the capital was moved from Xi'an to Luoyang at the western edge of the North China Plain in part so that the seat of authority could be close to the most distinguished families in the empire. At the same time, the rich supply of food and materials from the lower course of the Yellow River became more accessible to the capital area. Decorated stone and brick monuments can be found in other parts of China, such as in Nanyang, Shaanxi, Shanxi, and Sichuan (map 1). In style the work of all these other regions can be traced to traditions of representation common in Former Han materials. The stones of the North China Plain cannot, and in this respect they stand alone. In quantity and in thematic complexity, too,




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Í7 Map 2. Majo r sites o f the classical and descriptive traditions. Mo de rn site names are superimposed o n a map o f Latter Han administrative boundaries. Th e coastline, lakes, and rivers are drawn according to the best available reconstructions o f Latter H an topography. Based o n Z h o n g g u o l i s h i d i t u j i , 8 vols. (Shanghai, 1975), 2:64—65.

they stand apart from monuments in other parts of China. Considering the cultural centrality and dense population of the North China Plain, the importance of this material for the social history and art history of Han China becomes eviden t . How does funerary monument production fit into this broader image of economic strength? Some years ago, Li Falin made a systematic effort to place Han engravings in the economic environment of Latter H an Shandong. Although his focus was Shandong, his findings are pertinent for the entire North China Plain. Li envisioned a patron group of landowners of various magnitudes of wealth profiting from agricultural produce and the silk and iron industries, not to mention rents from tenant farmers or usurious loans of grain and other necessities. This affluent group had the resources to channel some of its surplus 13



into funerary monuments for purposes o f aggrandizement and to acquire a reputation for filial piety, which, o f course, entailed further economic advantage s. It seems unlikely to me that overt aggrandizement was an important motive in the construction o f these monuments. One must distinguish between the class interests o f hereditary elites and local, upwardly mobile elites. Still, Li's investigation o f the problem sets the stage for further questions regarding the interaction between patterns of art consumption and the lifestyles of scholars in early imperial China. What, for instance, were the market preferences o f the local scholars, how large was the market, and how consistent were their market preferences? 14

The Consistency

of Market


Historians of Chinese art have long been able to distinguish the stones of eastern China fro m those o f Nanyang, Shanxi, or Sichuan. There is no need for me to reestablish here what is commonly known to undergraduates in Chinese art survey courses. I do need to consider more closely what it is that marks these stones as belonging to a single family, for it is clear that these elements continued to appeal to the scholar families o f the North China Plain over a broad area for many generations. In other words, the common elements among subregional styles in the region testify to the market durability of certain features o f style. It will help to begin by contrasting a Shandong bas-relief with one from another region, in this instance, Sichuan. I have chosen reliefs illustrating the same subject, namely, the cosmic sages Fu Xi and Nii Wa (figs. 53,54). Fu Xi is a male cosmic deity representing the Yang cosmic force, the eastern and southerly directions, and all that is bright, active, hot, and lively. Fu Xi was a sage king and a culture hero who invented records and other hallmarks of civilization. That he is also a cosmic deity is evident fro m his serpentine tail, an attribute denied other earthly sages but often shared by immortals and other deities. Nii Wa is a female cosmic deity representing the Yin cosmic force, the northern and westerly directions, and all that is dark, passive, cold, and torpid. She, too, is a culture heroine who is thought to have saved mankind fro m extermination and, in some sources, is said to have invented the mouth organ, or sheng. The two sages, together, were believed to have given rise to the human race through their u n i o n . In Han engravings, Fu Xi and Ni i Wa usually are shown together holding a square and a compasss, respectively, these two instruments being metaphors for just and even rule (fig. 30; see chapter 9). 15





In both these engravings the iconography is slightly unusual. In the Sichuan illustration (fig. 28), a rubbing o f an impressed brick from the region o f Chongqing, Fu Xi appears to hold a compass. This instrument normally is held by Nii Wa. In this instance, Nii Wa instead holds the mouth organ she is said to have invented. Fu Xi holds the sun in his right hand and Nii Wa holds the moon in her left hand. This arrangement is not unusual for the Sichuan region. In the rubbing of a stone engraving from the Xuzhou area (fig. 54), neither sage holds the usual attributes. Instead, as suggested in a study by Wang Lilin, they seem to be accompanied by the children who are the product o f their u n i o n . 16

In engravings fro m the North China Plain, the union o f the two deities is almost always shown diagrammaticaUy, with their tails mtertwining (figs. 54, 30). Often they do not regard one another but gaze outward or toward the spectator. In the Sichuan relief the two deities swirl in space independendy. Despite their physical separation, however, the artist turned their heads in a mutual gaze, emphasizing their psychological awareness of one another. In comparison to other Han reliefs, those o f Sichuan are known for their appearance o f liveliness and volume, while those o f Shandong and Jiangsu are famous for their more "rigid" character. The sense o f volume scholars have noted in the Sichuan pieces is due in no small measure to the way in which the artist integrates lines along the contour with those describing surface details.




54. Th e sages Fu Xi and N u Wa. Stone engraving from Suining, near Xuzho u, Jiangsu, second century A . D . Ink rubbing, Xuzhou Municipal Museum .

The impression o f movement also benefits from this, but is due as well to the way the artist makes transitions from one line to another, which is to say, the angles at which different lines change direction and meet. Consider the sleeves of the Sichuan sages. The line describing the cuff of Nu Wa's right sleeve is the same one that continues unbroken to define the contour of the scarf which hangs down in front of her cuff. Likewise, that portion of the contour which runs behind her left arm continues without interruption to delineate the bottom contour of her cuff, which seems to lie in front of her arm (fig. 53). In other words, the contour line is conceived as something that runs





around the figure , in front and behind, suggesting that the figure's form moves freely and continuously in and out in space. It is this, rather than the use of light and shade, that gives the figure a sense of volume. The Sichuan artist depicts motion largely by giving his figure s active postures and by incorporating marks of motion throughout the composition—Nii Wa's hairknots fall backward due to her forward motion, as does her left sleeve; the scarf on Fu Xi's left sleeve trails upward, following the descent o f his arm, while his hairflie s backward as he curves forward. But there is more than this to the sense o f motion in this relief. Movement appears rapid and continuous because there are no real breaks in the flow of line. One contour line generally meets another at an acute or obtuse angle. If an orthogonal is difficult to avoid, as where Ni i Wa's scarf falls in front o f her right sleeve, the artist provides a transition by curving the upper line o f the sleeve slighdy so as to meet the verticle o f the scarf more gendy. The contour lines flo w in and out o f one another without appearing to "stop" at an orthogonal boundary. Since any sense o f obstruction has been minimized, the impression o f continuity, speed, and flow is complete. In this regard the Sichuan artist's procedure is essentially synthetic, enabling him to knit together foreground and background, outer contour and inner surfaces. The Xuzhou engraver, like his colleagues throughout most o f the North China Plain, employed a very different set o f operating procedures (fig. 54). This much is evident from the veryflat appearance of most of these engravings, reminiscent o f "archaic" styles in Western medieval art . The figure s face the viewer head-on, enhancing the impression of overall flatness. This flatness is the consequence o f a set of procedures that largely preclude any continuous transition fro m the contour (which represents the farthest apparent extension of the figure's body) and surface features such as the hands (which could conceivably represent the fro ntm o st extension of the body). How was this effect achieved? Close examination of these engravings shows that the contour line was conceived and executed separatelyfro m those incisions marking surface details. In all likelihood the artist, after making his drawing, first cut a deep line for the contour, separating figure fro m ground. He then marked off subdivisions within the contour, further setting each of these apart fro m others by assigning them different surface patterns (fig. 54). The shoulders are marked by a striped pattern, blank stripes alternating with others sporting vertical striations. The lower sleeves appear to exist on the same plane as the shoulders but are distinguished by regular, vertical wiggling lines. The serpentine body, on the other hand, is characterized by a crisscross pattern reminiscent of reptilian scales. If the Sichuan artist's procedures are essentially synthetic, then this approach to pictorial form is profoundly analytical. It enables an artist 17






to distinguish clearly one part fro m another, one object from another, and the figure itselffro m the area around it. Visual separations are best maintained if two lines representing two sections meet at an unambiguous angle. The line marking the front fold o f Fu Xi's "kimono"is almost vertical. The stripes to either side of it meet it at an angle, but not so much that they appear to flo w into it. Likewise, as these same stripes meet Fu Xi's right shoulder, their angle is insufficient to convince us that they continue on around and behind his upper arm. The angles created wherever the spirit's bodies cross one another are generally not far from 90 degrees and their reptilian feet meet along a vertical axis. Such a style may seem limited and disadvantageous fro m our perspective; but despite the variety o f subregional styles found in the North China Plain, these features are found almost everywhere over the entire region and for a period o f almost two centuries. This approach to form had a strong appeal for the scholars of this region. Consider, for instance, an immortal spirit fro m Jiuniidun (fig. 55). Jiuniidun is in some ways an unusual site, possessing high quality engravings some of which convey a remarkable sense of motion in space (fig. 56). The representation of movement in three dimensions was not beyond the ability o f these artists. Yet most o f the figures at Jiuniidun exhibit a "classical," analytical approach very much like that of the Xuzhou engraving of Fu Xi and Nu Wa. The Jiuniidun immortal (fig. 55), like other Han immortals, has a slender body because he subsists on a diet o f morning dew and purple evening mists. He scampers along within a fram e enclosed on three sides, holding what appears to be a magic mushroom of immortality. As he runs, tufts of feathers characteristic of his kind stream out in various directions. Can we say, then, that motion is as much a part o f the style o f this figure as for the Sichuan deities? No. If we look more closely it is apparent that this creature's body has been analytically subdivided in much the same way as the Fu Xi and Nu Wa fro m Xuzhou. Double lines separate his ankles fro m his calves; double bands divide his legs at the knees; more lines at the wrist set off the hands fro m the forearms. Along each upper arm runs a band interrupted orthogonally at even intervals. The space between these interruptions is further divided by striations. A similar band runs along his back. At one level these bands represent the feathers on his body, but at another level they are encouraged by the artist's adopted procedures, for they are commonly found on all manner of creature in engravings fro m southwest Shandong and northern Jiangsu. For example, the bird whose head thrusts down almost vertically from the upper border on the immortal's left has a similarly subdivided band along the underside of its neck. The bird's head is separated fro m the neck by a line drawn roughly at right angles to the line o f





55. Immortal spirit. Stone engraving from Jiuniidun, near Xuzho u, Jiangsu, second century A . D . Ink rubbing, Xuzho u Municipal Museum .

the neck, and the neck itself is further subdivided. Again, the strength o f this procedure is its ability to separate unambiguously various parts of an object. It is rather poor at conveying a sense of motion. But what about the tufts o f feathers flo ating lighdy awayfro m the body? Surely these convey a sense of movement? Yes and no. This device goes back to Former Han tim e s and was always used to emphasize the direction o f motion (figs. 27,42, 57). In Latter Han engravings outside of Shandong it continues to do so, as in an immortal fro m Sichuan (fig. 58). The immortal's tufts of feathers




56. Immortal spirit tending a unicorn. Stone engraving from Jiunudun, near Xuzho u, Jiangsu, second century A . D . Ink rubbing, Xuzho u Municipal Museum .

57. Dancing immortal. Black-ground lacquer painted casket fro m Mawangdui tomb 1, Changsha, Hun an , early second century B . C. Hun an Provincial Museum , Changsha.






58. Immortal spirit. Stone engraving from Sichuan, second century A . D . Ink rubbing, Sichuan Provincial Muse um , Che ngdu.

59. Winge d tiger. Stone engraving from the tomb at Yi'nan, Shando ng, second century A . D . Ink rubbing, Shandong Provincial Mu s e u m , Ji'nan.

emphasize its motion because they fly away from the body in the opposite direction fro m the forward movement o f the limb to which they are attached. No t so in the Tiunudun immortal. This immortal raises his right leg and still one feather tuft flies upward; he moves forward and yet both shoulder tufts flo at upward. Even the angles at which his knees bend more closely approach a right angle, as opposed to the Sichuan immortal, where the acute and obtuse angles o f the knees imply swift forward motion. At Jiuniidun, neither the feather tufts nor the parts of the body are coordinated so as to portray the flo w of motion. This is





so even though this kind of coordinated movement had been mastered centuries earlier (figs. 27, 57). Within the classical tradition, at least some o f the engravings at Jiuniidun exhibit a greater sense o f motion and volume than those at other sites (fig. 56). Ho w could this propensity for analysis be the product o f ignorance? More likely, I would maintain, it is the consequence of definite and consistent consumer tastes. The Jiuniidun engravings, like the Sichuan tile, are thought to date to the second half of the second century A . D . Much the same features can be found in engravings exhibiting a wide range o f styles within the classical tradition. The tiger at Yi'nan, for instance (fig. 59), is divided into parts which, in turn, are analyzed into smaller parts. Just as the Jiuniidun immortal's tufts were indifferent to wind resistance and gravity, so are those on the shoulders of this tiger. This engraving also belongs to the late second century. Another tiger and an elephant of about the same date fro m Anqiu are carved in a low relief technique (figs. 60, 61). The flo w o f motion here is less thoroughly obstructed than at Yi'nan, but nonetheless we can see telltale divisions at the neck, followed by striations along the neck. On the head of the tiger, whiskers stretch out fro m the mouth at right angles to the jaw and the thigh is cut into various subdivisions.

60. Winge d tiger. Stone engraving from the tomb at An qiu , Shandong, second century A . D .





61. Winged elephant. Stone engraving from the tomb at An qiu , Shandong, second century A . D .

The elephant's head and neck are likewise subdivided. An earlier tiger from Cangshan (fig. 25), like his dragon companion, is more severely cut into discrete units utilizing a set o f carving procedures identical to those at Jiunudun and Yi'nan, even though the local style o f engraving is quite distinct. This approach to form is first found definitively in engravings fro m Liangchengshan (figs. 31, 32), where a hybrid bird, an auspicious omen (see chapter 9), illustrates neady all the basic principles we have found at other sites. A large number o f stones at various sites in southwest Shandong may represent the work o f this school. Inscribed examples o f these stones range in date fro m the early to mid-second century. Engravings at Shilipu and other parts of the Xuzhou region may represent later offshoots o f this school. The nine-headed beast illustrated here (fig. 62), guardian of paradise, exemplifies the technique at its best. The head faces the viewer, turned at a right angle with respect to the body. Each section of the body is lovingly carved with ever finer striations and patterns. The effect is at once rich and controlled; laborious and yet calculated; ornamented and yet rational, geometric. These are the features found in countless engravings carved during the second century in the North China Plain. 18

Broadly speaking, over a period of two centuries, the region seems to have favored a variety o f strategies. All o f these, however, emphasize the clear and unambiguous separation and differentiation o f parts o f the body and diminish overt references to motion, even when the subject matter, intellectually, calls for the depiction of movement. Such widespread consistency reflects not the whims of one or two individuals. Rather, it is a product of collective, albeit uncoordi-


&• T H E I R M A R K E T


nated, action by large numbers o f individuals. These persons shared certain social demands and doubdess took comfort in knowing that they shared a common taste. Together, they made up the large market for funerary engravings in the North China Plain.

The Size of the Market

for Funerary


In assessing the nature and size of the market for funerary monuments in the North China Plain, it is far easier to list what we do not know than what we do know. We do not know, for instance, if there was a guild system or how it worked. The craftsmen o f Han times most likely followed the "family" system practiced by scholars. That is to say, a master would pass his trade on to his son unless he lacked a son or the latter was inept, in which case he would "adopt" his chief apprentice and treat him like a son. We know nothing of the other workers who must have helped to cut and transport the stones, erect the shrine, and so on. An Guo's shrine inscription mentions three "famous" artists, two of whom shared the same surname. They may have been brothers, or father and son.

62. Th e nine-headed beast who guards the entrance to paradise. Stone engraving fro m Shilipu, near Xuzho u, Jiangsu, second century A . D . Ink rubbing, Xuzho u Municipal Museum .






Whether the third man had been adopted by the family or simply was contracted for the job we cannot know. It is not known how artists marketed their skills, whether they owned the quarries they worked or, more likely, purchased stone fro m those who did. It is not known whether there were guilds or if guild rules restricted competition in any way. We do not even know how detailed were the instructions of the family or to what degree these instructions were laid down in contracts. Shrine inscriptio ns sometimes contain sections that sound like a contract, listing the cost o f the monument, who did it, how long it took to make, and even the subjects depicted. Such clues are helpful, but they are merely suggestive. In this section I shall try to gather some of these clues to make some general remarks about the market for stone carving, but these remarks must remain tentative at best. The most basic observation we can make about these stones is that considerable demand for them developed during the first and second centuries A . D . The remarkable consistency in style and large numbers o f engraved stones in the North China Plain also suggest that the market for a particular variety o f funerary decor was well established and widespread by the early second century A . D . One can form a rough appreciation o f the size o f this new industry by considering the numbers o f engraved stones extant. Most o f the stones published in Chinese archaeological reports have been assigned to the second century A . D . , with the majority belonging perhaps to the middle decades of that century. Judging fro m monuments that remain intact, a respectable decorated tomb or shrine on the average required around nine to thirteen engraved stones. Many had less, but exceptional monuments could utilize up to thirty or m o re . In 1980 Li Falin estimated that the number o f extant mural engravings in the Shandong region exceeded three thousand. If we were to assume, conservatively, that all the monuments represented among this group were complete and intact, then our three thousand stones would translate into something between three and six hundred monuments for an area about the size o f Utah, the majority having been carved over a period of perhaps fifty years. However, in many cases only a few stones remain from what were complete tombs or shrines, so in fact we are talking about several times that number o f monum e nts. Moreover, the continued publication of new finds does not encourage the belief that we have found the greater portion o f the monuments actually built. All o f this suggests that the funerary monument industry absorbed a substantial fraction of the surplus wealth o f the scholars of this region. That the market for these engravings was large is also suggested by the variety of subregional styles. Each of these styles is best understood as representing a school of engravers. Every discernible school represents one or more shops serving the scholar families o f the area. Within many schools, moreover, it 19





would be possible to distinguish a number o f different hands. In southwest Shandong one could find representative monuments in four distinct styles in a radius o f 150 kilometers. In Xuzhou the same number could be identified within a radius o f 30 kilometers. No comparably dense variety of distinguishable styles can be found in any other part o f China. This suggests that the funerary engraving industry thrived in the North China Plain as nowhere else. 21

Competition Did these shops compete with one another? This question will not be definitively resolved until the various subregional styles and their ranges are more systematically studied. Currendy the evidence, such as it is, suggests that competition between shops was probably important at some level. First, Han stoneworkers were not attached to the courts o f aristocratic families, as were some Renaissance artists, for example. This is obvious because the families for whom they worked were not noble families, nor were they sufficiendy wealthy to support their own private artists. Wu Liang's inscription declares that the engravings and inscriptions at his shrine were carved by the "famous artist" Wei Gai. Presumably Wei Gai acquired his fine reputation by working for other families. This supposition is confirmed by the inscription for a shrine carved for the An family. This shrine, we are told, was constructed by three "famous" artists for a fee of twenty-seven thousand cash. The construction took approximately one year. Afterwards, it is clear, the artists were required to find other work if they wished to continue on as "famous" artists. 22

Second, there is no reason to suppose that the government imposed restrictio ns on the operating area of stone engravers. The carving at Xiaotangshan, for instance (fig. 63), belongs to the same school as monuments near Jiaxiang (fig. 28) some 120 kilometers to the south (map 2). In at least one case, moreover, it is known that an artist working in one style had his home in an area which, today, is thick with stones carved in a different style. I am speaking o f the An family shrine, which was carved by artists of the same school as those who made the Wu family shrines. According to its inscription, the artists who carved this shrine hailed from Gaoping. Gaoping was in a region whose monuments were typically executed in a very different technique from that o f the Wu family shrines (see figs. 64, 22). Finally, that inscriptions state explicidy the name of the artist, his fame, and, in the case o f Wu Liang's shrine, his talent, implies that other, inferior artists were available. By recording the name o f the artist, the family showed it had spared no expense to provide the deceased with the finest of monuments. Such





63. Ho rse and ride r. Stone engraving from the shrine at Xiaotangshan, near Feicheng, Shandong, first—seco nd century A . D . Ink rubbing, University of Michigan Muse um of Art. Transfer from Slide and Photo Co llectio n, Department of the Histo ry of Art.

boasting makes little sense if artists are not allowed to compete for business. If the record implies a fair degree of freedom in contracting artists for work, it is equally clear that other forces encouraged artists to establish a home area for their operations. It is common in traditional societies for the style o f a given master to dominate a certain area. Men seeking work as carvers would most likely flock to the local master, just as young scholars would go to the most famous scholars in the region. But other conditions encouraged the development o f subregional styles. The most obvious o f these is the difficulty o f transporting stone. Stone is fairly abundant in the North China Plain, but not so abundant that every village would have its own quarry. Wu Liang's inscription mentions that it was fashioned fro m the particularlyfine stone fro m south of the southern mountains and that the artists had selected only the stones of highest quality. This is a blackish, fine-grain stone well suited to the delicate incisions characteristic of that school of engraving (fig. 22). The family would not bother to record the source and quality o f the stone unless it could take for granted a rather sophisticated level of discrimination among guests who would view the shrine. Such remarks also suggest that supplies o f this stone were limited. Perhaps, through ownership or some agreement, access to the quarry was restricted to some shops. Perhaps transportation costs became too high for most artists beyond a certain range. For whatever reason, monuments utilizing this kind of stone become rare southeast o f Songshan (map 2).


&• T H E I R



65. Th e filial son Xin g Q u feeding his parents with chopsticks. Stone engraving fro m Songshan, Shandong, mid-second century A . D . Ink rubbing, Shandong Provincial Museum , Ji'nan.





Another condition limiting the range o f a shop and, hence, competition may have been the marketing system itself—those social channels through which an artist established his reputation. As noted earlier, the demand for the funerary monument industry was fueled by the scholar's need to demonstrate his filial piety, frugality, level o f education, and dedication to superiors. The funerary monument, inscription, eulogy, ceremony, and so on were designed to enhance his reputation. If a funerary monument contributed to this, it would be appreciated primarily by that circle o f people related, by social ties, to the grieving family. This same circle of people was also the most likely market for the artists who constructed the monument, since some o f them were likely to possess a need for such monuments and also had had the chance to evaluate the artist's work. An artist's reputation, in other words, may have traveled in much the same circles as a scholar's reputation. From this one would expect that an artist's operating range would spread fastest among scholar families related by personal, regional, and professional ties. All these considerations would help to explain why, throughout most o f southern Shandong, monuments by a single school tend to cluster in certain areas. It is not clear that artists were always so restricted, however. In the Xuzhou region a variety of schools seem to have operated in a very small area at about the same time (map 2). Possibly the competition prevailing among Shandong carvers resembled the "monopolistic competition" Michael Baxandall ascribes to certain artists in Renaissance Germany. In this type o f competition, individual masters seek to differentiate their product and corner a particular niche in the market by emphasizing particular and marketable features o f style or workmanship. Competition, in these cases, would have been most important on the boundaries of these areas. Monuments at Songshan and Teng counties, for instance, both appear to date to the second and third quarters of the second century. They are distinct in style, yet are separated by a few tens of kilometers (figs. 65,8). That the family in Teng County did not hire the artists who worked at Songshan might have as much to do with family ties and community expectations as with questions o f transport. Clearly, there are many lacunae in our knowledge of Han memorial engravings. Just as clearly, something remarkable was happening in the practice o f pictorial expression in Han times. As new classes o f people began investing in memorial art, its functions changed, along with expectations about how works of art should look and what they should imply In the next chapter it should become evident that the new consumers of memorial art were a highly conscious lot with definite ideas about the impressions they hoped to make. The cost o f their investment was weighed carefully against potential gains, all with a view o f the power o f public opinion to shape a man's career. 23



Economic Dimensions


S t r u c t u r e & Style

A .X. -assuming that the patrons of funerary monuments wanted to demonstrate some financial sacrifice as a sign o ffilial piety, the level o f sacrifice would depend gready on the income o f the patrons. Chai Zhongqing conducted a study of the social status of the occupants of Han tombs near Nanyang. He found that the majority were neither rich magnates nor poor villagers but lower-level bureaucrats and sub-bureaucrats. The design o f mortuary monuments in northeast China suggests that, on the whole, the patronage situation was much the same. The middle-income nature o f these monuments can be detected in their materials, techniques, and design. The structure o f most stone tombs is such as to allow a happy balance between economy and effect. The majority o f complete tombs in the North China Plain consist o f one or more rectangular chambers constructed on the post-and-lintel system (figs. 66, 52). Such a design permits the tomb builder to conceive his work in modular units like children's building blocks. Consequendy, among the thousands o f engraved stones discovered, a few standard shapes are frequendyencountered: there are the long, narrow lintel stones (fig. 67); the square or rectangular stones for the end walls perpendicular to the tomb axis (figs. 67,68); longer rectangular stones for the side walls and narrow stones for the posts (figs. 69, 70). Sometimes these shapes are notched or otherwise modified, but it is clear that most tombs (and shrines, for that matter) began with modular shapes, a fact that vasdy simplified their design and construction. The roofs are made of similar slabs cantilevered to fashion a raised ceiling (figs. 1





66. Elevations and plan of a decorated tomb at Mao cun, near Xuzho u, Jiangsu, dated A . D . 175. (1) Lo ngitudinal section of the to m b; (2) cross-section of the east side of the front chamber; (3) floor plan, with the front chamber at the to p. Th e arrow points to the no rth; the scale is in meters. Fro m Ji a n g s u xuzhou xiatuj

han hua-

shi, ed. the Archeological Artifacts Committee for Jiangsu

Province (Beijing, 1959), figs. 1-3.


67. Vie w of the east wall of the middle chamber of the tomb at Mao cun , near Xuzho u, Jiangsu, dated A . D .




68. Two scholars sharing wine in a building, above which a multitude of beasts congregate. To the left, a serpent-tailed deity, either Fu Xi o r Nii Wa,

stands guard. Ink rubbing of a stone engraving

from the tomb at Mao cun , near Xuzho u, Jiangsu, dated A . D .


Fro m Zhang Dao yi, X u z h o u , fig. 61.

66,69). For this kind of construction no architect was required. An experienced stone mason would have been adequate for the job. The engraved decor o f the stones is equally modular in conception. No pictorial composition covers more than one stone; one stone, one composition is the norm. Because o f this, engraved compositions always fall into registers when the stone blocks are in place. This same arrangement is respected even when several compositions are included in a single block (fig. 28). The fact that each decorated stone is conceived as an independent design unit is underscored by the practice o f framing stones with one or more layers o f decorative bands. Half-moon shapes, diamond patterns, saw-tooth patterns, wave patterns, and strings-of-money designs are among the most common decorations employed, but some kind o f frame is generally provided (figs. 68, 69). Wilma Fairbank realized years ago that, historically, this approach derived from the older practice of stamping designs on individual bricks for use in tomb mural design. Presumably the practice was transferred to stone construction in part because o f its economy. We know fro m the inscription on An Guo's shrine at Songshan,



69. Vie w of the west wall of the middle chamber of the tomb at Mao cun , near Xuzho u, Jiangsu, dated A. D .


Jiaxiang, that the same team responsible for engraving the stone also quarried, transported, and assembled it at the construction site. Modular design would enable the engraver to work the stones above ground, at the quarry if necessary, to be assembled later. Certain standard kinds of compositions, such as carriage processions, could even be carved in quantity to be used as needed. Such working procedures would save tim e, facilitate labor, and consequendy cut construction costs substantially. It seems unlikely that the truly rich would desire funerary monuments in which the effects o f cost œ tting were so apparent. This would help to explain why many of the inscribed engravings of the region honor scholars and donors holding fairly minor offices, just the opposite o f what one would expect for a traditional society. Altogether fifteen decorated monuments with pertinent 2



70. Scattered post and wail stones in storage at the Zo u Co unty Muse um , Shandong.

inscriptions are recorded in major published collections of Han engravings. O f these, five do not mention the rank of the deceased or donors. Of the remainder, only two were dedicated to men ranking as high as grand administrator (governor) . One of these is the "former governor"mentioned at Wulaowa (see chapter 5); the other is the chancellor of Pei, honored in a tablet dated A . D . 150. The rest are o f a type. A man honored in Teng county, for instance, had served in the bureau of merit at the county level. He also had held other posts, such as market officer and literary scholar. All these were sub-bureaucratic offices, presumably at the county level. Donors to the monument included his peers: an officer of the bureau of merit and other sub-bureaucratic officers. The story is much the same for those honored by the Wu family shrines. Wu Liang had been a clerk, Wu Ban a chief clerk, both of them minor officials. Wu Rong did better. He held various secretarial jobs at the provincial level, then became a court attendant and finally assistant to the chief of police in the capital. This was a respectable career, but his salary never approached that o f a grand administrator. An Guo's shrine, contemporaneous with the Wu family shrines, states that he was a clerk. A man buried at Nanwuyang had served in the bureau o f merit




and as a literary scholar. The story is similar for another officer buried at Yutai. He had held the same offices as the gendeman fro m Nanwuyang, as well as other sub-bureaucratic positions. The sample is small, but it lends litde support to the notion that the funerary engraving market was dominated by the rich and powerful. The men remembered in these inscriptions doubdess were respected in their communities. Socially, however, they fell many rungs below the rich and royal who previously dominated art production in China, just as their simply stated engravings were distant in style fro m the feathery arabesques o f the aristocracy. 3

What sort of living could a man make as an officer in the bureau of merit, as an attendant clerk, or a literary scholar? Judging from Hans Bielenstein's study of official salaries for the Latter Han, the cash value of the salaries of officials at these ranks could range very roughly fro m 1,300 to 6,000 cash per month. In comparison to the equivalent of some 17,000 cash enjoyed by the governor of a commandery, these figures must be regarded as characteristic o f middle to lower-middle incomes at best. 4

For families dependent on this kind o f salary, the costs o f funerary ceremonies and monuments were considerable. Apart fro m An Guo's shrine, a number of inscriptions fro m the late first and second centuries list the cost of the monument, ranging fro m 3,000 to 50,000 cash. O n the whole, the cost o f monuments appears consistent with size. An Guo's shrine at Songshan cost 27,000 cash in A . D . 158. This was at least 10,000 more than the yearly cash value o f An Guo's salary as a clerk. That same year at Qufu, about eighty kilometers northeast o f Songshan, another family paid 50,000 cash for a tomb with engraved mural art. Presumably a tomb required more stone and labor than a shrine and hence was more expensive. Relatively modest monuments, o f course, could be had for less. A stone tower at Lunan was erected in A . D . 85 for 15,000. Gendemen from Weishan and Yutai were honored with monuments costing a mere 10,000, and a pair of memorial tablets fro m Feicheng cost only 3,000 cash. None of these figures includes the cost of the funeral, burial gifts, or entertainment for guests, items which, at Qufu, ran up a price tag o f 90,000 cash, close to twice the price of the tomb itself. 5

The majority of functionaries in the Han bureaucracy held positions at the sub-bureaucratic level and were referred to collectively as zhang li, or "senior staff members."That the costs o f funerary monuments were not easily met by such low-ranking officials is confirmed by Cui Shi's remarks on the livelihood o f the senior staff. A native o f northeast China, Cui Shi vigorously protested the inadequate salaries o f these officers just about the time the Wu family began building their shrines (around A . D . 150): "A senior staff member . . . draws a monthly emolument of twenty hu of millet and 2,000 cash Now [he spends]



i ,000 cash as monthly wage to a retainer, 500 cash for fodder, oil and meat, and 500 cash for fuel, salt and vegetables. Two persons consume six hu o f millet [each month]. The remainder is barely enough for horse fodder. Ho w is he able to provide himself with winter and summer clothing and blankets, sacrifices at seasonal ceremonies, and entertainment for friends! Ho w can he afford to welcome parents and family [to live with him ]?" Cui Shi's argument tells us that a senior staff member would have had little surplus to spend on his family, let alone a shrine. It is clear, however, that Cui had an axe to grind. He failed to mention, for instance, that the fourteen hu o f grain not consumed could be converted (according to Hans Bielenstein's figures) to an extra 1,400 cash per m o nth. Since this is more than the monthly income o f the officer's retainer or secretary, the unconsumed grain could have dispelled much of the gloom in Cui Shi's picture of sub-bureaucratic livelihood. Indeed, according to Hans Bielenstein's study o f the actual salaries o f Han officials—subtracting necessary grain consumption and converting surplus grain to cash—"all but the lowliest officials could live on their salaries." The two views are not necessarily inconsistent. Bielenstein concluded that few officers suffered from want due to inadequate salaries. Cui Shi had something more in mind, and in this respect his argument actually supports Bielenstein. He assumes, after all, a standard of living that takes meat, vegetables, and parties as the norm for a man with a senior staff member's income. While this is hardly subsistence living by ancient standards, it is difficult to imagine men at this income level purchasing monuments such as An Guo's without incurring financial difficulties. Yet An Guo's inscription says the money for his shrine came fro m family "savings" and Wu Liang's shrine says the family spent "all they had," meaning, presumably, all the surplus wealth they had. Clearly some families o f low-ranking officials had sufficient surplus to purchase funerary monuments. Apart fro m family savings there were, o f course, other ways a middleincome family might go about acquiring a monument, or at least some part of it. Subscriptions by tens or even hundreds o f donors are not unknown. By this method a man of limited means could have his name inscribed on a monument together with a record o f his donation, and in this way publicly proclaim his pious sentiments. Even for families who bore the entire cost o f the funeral, there were compensating factors. Li Falin notes that the numerous guests attending funerals would be required to bring gifts, and he speculates that many families might even have wound up with a net profit! Unfortunately, we do not know enough about the value o f gifts as opposed to costs to be certain of this, but it seems reasonable to suppose that gifts to the mourners did help defray the costs 6







of funerary services and monuments. In addition, there is no reason why an official's income should have been limited to his salary. Many officials owned land and some were independendy wealthy. Fan Zhong, for instance, was honored with the office o f thrice venerable as a reward for philanthropic activities as the local billio naire. But thrice venerable was more an honor than an office, and one can seriously doubt that Fan would have accepted the post o f attendant clerk. The majority o f sub-bureaucratic posts were such as to offer little attraction for the very wealthy. It may be unrealistic to assume that all subbureaucratic officers were struggling to make ends meet, but the notion that the bottom ranks of the bureaucracy were stuffed with billionaires strains credulity far more. In short, the role of cost in the design of monuments will not disappear by assuming that the patrons o f Han mural art were all extravagandy rich. 10

Social Incentives

for the Consumption

of Funerary


In chapter i , some discussion was devoted to religious motives for the production o f funerary art. In addition to these, many social and even political motives encouraged the production of funerary art. These two sets of motives— religious and social—were most likely inseparable for Han scholars. Religious aspirations were reinforced by social realities in a way that made them all but equivalent. A skimpy funeral could invite retribution from disgrunded ancestors; it could also ruin one's chance o f getting recommended for office. Either way, the consequence o f a paltry funeral was bad news. This double motivation helps to explain why the market for funerary art spread to such a broad range of social groups in the first centuries B . C. and A . D . , for the truly remarkable thing about the market for funerary art is not that the rich invested in it; rather, it is the fact that the marginally wealthy were forever contriving to buy into it: "Nowadays when the parents are alive their children do not show love and respect, but when they die their children would have them elevated to lofty positions through lavish expenditure. They feel no true grief, yet they are regarded as filial if they provide [their parents] with an extravagant burial and spend a fortune. O n account of this their name becomes prominent and their glory shines among the people. Consequendy even the commoners emulate [these practices] to the extent that they sell their houses and property to do i t . " This critique was written about 81 B . C. , but an imperial edict o f A . D . 31 makes it evident that, a century later, the social climbers were, if anything, even more important as clients o f funerary industries: "The world regards lavish burials as [a sign] of virtue and frugal burials as [a sign] of cheapness, so much so 11




that the rich vie with one another in their excesses, while the poor exhaust their savings [to provide a presentable burial]. The laws have been unable to restrain this [trend], and propriety has been unable to stop it. [Therefore] I proclaim to the empire that all loyal officials, filial sons, and good brothers should adopt frugal practices in sending [their loved ones] to theirfinal re st." To judge from the issuance of similar edicts well into the second century, the "po o r" continued to find ways to buy into the funerary art market throughout the Latter H a n . The significance o f these often-cited passages lies not in the record o f conspicuous consumption in connection with the mortuary industry—there is a long tradition for this—but in the references to lower-income groups participating in this mode of consumption. The Book of Master M o (fifth to third centuries B . C . ) , the Annals of Master L u (third century B . C . ) , and the Book of the Prince of H u a i n a n (completed about 120 B. C. ) all contain essays critical o f extravagance in art, architecture, or burial practices, but none mentions or even implies that this is a problem among lower-level commoners. In all likelihood the authors of those essays had in mind the nobility and the very rich, these being the only two groups who could afford that kind o f consumption in pre-Han and early Han societies. The complaint o f 81 B. C. , however, was made by the same critics who decried the spread o f luxury goods and fashions in the villages. Clearly, the widening market for funerary monuments was part o f the general rise in the standard of living. In particular, it was part of the rush for a classical education and other marks of bureaucratic eligibility, for, as we learned in chapter 3, this was the way which "led to appointments and profit."It was, in fact, the opportunity for economic advancement by means o f afine reputation which made it feasible for middle-income families to go into debt for funerary expenses. But a fine reputation was awarded only to those who had properly attended to the "religious" needs o f deceased parents and teachers. The social and religious roles of the funerary monument had changed radically during the first century B. C. , as it gradually became more an instrument o f social advancement than a mark of status. Because of the age-old association between burial consumption and status, the advent o f new consumers in this market made men of the first century B . C. acutely sensitive to the degrees o f economic and social power represented by different levels o f consumption. Differences in consumption patterns our contemporaries might take lighdy assumed genuine significance within the highly competitive society o f the early Han. We are told, for instance, that the rich would select famous mountains as sites for ancestral sacrifices. They would "kill an ox, beat drums, and arrange performances by acrobats, singers, and dancers." Middle-income groups, on the other hand, would hold their sacrifices on terraces over the water, "sacrificing sheep and dogs, complemented by the music 12






of drums, zithers, and reed organs." Both the cost and effect o f professional performers was sufficient to mark a family's income level. Embroidered, multicoffered caskets also set the rich apart from middle-income groups, which used catalpa wood coffins. The same source suggests that, just at the tim e when lower social classes were becoming important clients of the funerary industries, offering shrines and memorial towers were recognized as a distinctiy "middleincome" phenomenon: "Nowadays the rich will pile up earth to make mountains, plant trees to make a forest, and build terraces and kiosks with connecting pavilions and several multistoried viewing towers. Those of middle income will erect offering shrines with screens and walled memorial towers with wooden screens." The surrogate nature o f the middle-income funerary monument is apparent here. The rich would build collections of actual viewing towers, while middle-income families would erect memorials in the shape of wooden towers. Monuments o f brick and stone were a middle-income substitute for the attributes o f real wealth. Why offering shrines and memorial towers should have been favored by middle-income groups is not difficult to construe. The fifteen or thirty thousand cash required for such structures would have meant nothing to the rich. This kind of "sacrifice" would have added little to their renown. But such a sum did represent a sacrifice for middle-income elites, and that was the point: the more indebted, the better, since the degree of piety could be measured in proportion to the level of sacrifice. It is evident from several passages cited above that the potential for profiting from a good reputation was sufficient to justify assuming a debt on that account. Hence several inscriptions make public the price of the monument; Wu Liang's family members emphasized that they spent "all they had," and An Guo's parents and brothers detailed the various sacrifices they undertook on his be half. If some member of the surviving family obtained an official post on the basis of an enhanced reputation, the family might, indeed, profit, not so much fro m a high salary (something relatively few officials enjoyed) as fro m tax benefits and influence in local affairs. It would be difficult to conceive of a monumental art form better adapted to the needs of a consumer group characterized primarily by limited financial resources and upward mobility. The financial considerations undertaken by middle-income families went beyond calculating the cost of the monument as against potential income fro m gifts, official salaries, tax benefits, and so on. By the first century A . D . there were also losses to be considered by those who failed to show proper respect at the time o f mourning, as is evident fro m a passage by Wang Chong (27-97): "People condemn those who do not fulfill the rites and are full of praise for those who piously fulfill all the rites. He who is praised by the people finds support in all his enterprises, while the one who is disliked meets with opposition whatever he says or do e s." This passage shares with others cited in this section a chilling 15







intimation of the enormous weight of public opinion on the lives of local elites. Drawing its strength from the role o f reputation as the primary ticket to officialdom, public opinion for the ambitious scholar was like a temperamental goddess dispensing fortune as easily as ruin, feeding hungrily on burnt offerings of local gossip. The imprint of such social pressures can be read between the lines of many funerary inscriptions. A particularly telling example o f such a eulogy has been examined in detail by Patricia Ebrey. It is the memorial inscription of Cao Quan, prefect o f Heyang, now preserved in the "Forest o f Stone" (monuments) in Xi'an. In this text, there is hardly a Confucian virtue which does not make its appearance. For instance, the government encouraged philanthropic activities by local literati. Such services eased the welfare burden of the government and demonstrated the kind o f public spirit that made a man eligible for public service. Cao Quan's eulogy tells us that he "brought comfort to the aged and cared for widows and widowers. He used his own money to buy grain to give to the infirm and blind." He also cured the sick and clothed the needy. He was humble, "bowing and giving way on the steps to the audience hall." He was beloved by all: 'Th e common people, carrying their children on their backs, converged like clouds."He was tough on crime: "H e brought order to an area o f ten-thousand li and the nobles [notoriously unruly] did not go astray.... The hearts of the greedy and violent were purified." He was learned: "When young our lord loved to study. He looked into the abstruse and was attentive to details, there being no written words he did not investigate." The eulogy goes on and on in this fashion, a caricature, perhaps, of the sort of eulogy criticized by Wang Fu. Viewed literally, the text expresses sincere admiration for a lost colleague. Viewed critically, it reveals the fears, concerns, and social aspirations o f Cao's followers. Viewed rhetorically, it reveals what the donors o f the inscription perceived was valued by the public and reflects the degree to which Cao's followers believed they could alter their own social status by establishing a good reputation. It shows just as clearly that the donors felt it important to use the funerary monument to establish, in permanent form, the virtues of their superior. Since Cao Quan was already dead, these claims did him litde good, but they said a great deal about his family and followers, who commissioned the shrine. These people did not neglect to list their names and the amounts o f their contributions to Cao Quan's monument. Among the offices listed are thrice venerable, or son loo, former criminal affairs clerk, former legal affairs clerk, various market officers, and a good many former chief clerks. Most o f these men must have been recruited under Cao's auspices or worked with him in the county. Most were sub-bureaucratic officers of modest salary. Heyang was situated close to the capital in a region not known for its stone 19





engravings, but a similar strategy informs the engravings o f the Shandong region. One such monument, dedicated to the clerk An Guo , has already been discussed. Wu Liang's inscription also waxes eloquent about moral virtues prized by the government, such as frugality: "he was content with the simplicity of a humble hut"; classical learning: "he never wearied of teaching the people"; and righteousness: "he was ashamed to conduct himself like the rest o f the world." The engravings at Wu Liang's shrine further elaborate on his virtues. The hybrid beast testifies to his concern for the widows and orphans; the crimson bear and silver amphora illustrate his righteous contempt for abuses of power at court, and the many references to literature prove his mastery o f the classics (see chapters 6 and 7) . The degree o f effort and expense involved in designing such monuments and making such claims can be understood only if we appreciate the pressure of public opinion upon the men who paid for them. This pressure was doubdess somewhat greater for Wu Liang's followers than for scholars o f the first century A . D . By the early second century the government enhanced with the power of law the already considerable might o f the gossipy goddess: "According to the old rules, the highest officers at a pay scale of two thousand bushels and the inspectors did not have to carry out the three-year mourning period; because o f this, all the capital and provincial officials neglected the mourning rites. In the Yuanchu period [114-120], Em press Dowager Deng issued an edict to the effect that, except for those in the very highest ranks, any official who failed to complete personally the mourning ceremonies should not be eligible for office." This rule required three years o f retirement and placed restrictions on clothing, travel, entertainment, sex, and so forth during the time of mourning. It is hardly surprising that it was hody disputed when applied to higher-ranking officers and was alternately revoked and reinstated for higher levels until the end of the second century. Thus, when the empress dowager and succeeding rulers attempted to extend the rule to higher levels, the effect was probably still greatest at the lower levels, where aspiring candidates for officialdom were most vulnerable to charges o f unfilial behavior. This situation would, presumably, encourage a market for funerary monuments among those whose success was contingent on a good reputation. Generally this would mean lower-ranking members o f the bureaucracy. The significance o f this for the history o f art in China is considerable. From the fourth millennium until the first century B. C. , the services o f professional artisans had always been monopolized by the most powerful social classes: the nobility and, later, rich merchants. By the early decades of the first century B. C. , the power of visual images to shape and maintain the direction of social change spread fro m the hands of the highest elites to men and women of more ordinary 21






means. With this change the social usage and symbology of art in China entered a new phase of pictorial expression.


in the North



The style o f engravings in the North China Plain has been described by a great many scholars, but few give the creators of these stones much credit for sophistication. The style is seen as a crude if honest attempt to depict real and historical events as they actually occurred. Although I would not accept this judgment, I will not claim that all or even most o f these engravings were the work of great artists. Nonetheless, in some respects these engravings were more sophisticated than any art produced in China up to that time. On the one hand, the artists consciously abandoned the more obvious sophistication o f older styles, as is evident from chapter 2. O n the other hand, they appear to have consciously rejected any move in the direction o f naturalism. Such was the case in Latter Han Shandong, where local taste favored a more elaborate use o f patterned and geometric forms over time. But this was not always so. If we search sufficiendy far back in time, it is possible to find paintings that take account o f the third dimension in space. The earliest o f these is a damaged but still legible panel unearthed near Huchang, Jiangsu, about ten years ago (fig. 9). This piece hardly displays an impressive command of linear perspective, but it does achieve a sense of recession in space. To do so it relies in part on furniture props and musical instruments depicted in parallel perspective. In keeping with the mree-dimensional viewpoint, individual figures are often depicted in threequarter view, as is the main spectator on the dais in the upper left corner. Elsewhere in the same painting we see some figures fro m behind, some fro m the side, some in fro nt, and some farther back or in the middle. Each of these figures moves in a shallow space. Since they are distributed in a kind of circle around the central area where acrobats perform, they enclose an area stretching fro m the picture plane back to a region beyond the performers, thereby creating a loose plane o f recession. The same effect is achieved more obviously in a relief from Sichuan created more than two centuries later (fig. 10). As mentioned earlier, the painting fro m Huchang was found not far from an area where, two centuries later, a typical engraving looked like figure 8. In this engraving, fro m Teng County, most figures resemble cut-outs pasted onto the picture plane. What had happened? It is not that the earlier tradition disappeared. It obviously survived in Sichuan and, to a lesser extent, at Nanyang. How can we explain its loss in the vicinity of southwest Shandong? A full answer




to this will be attempted in chapters 5 and 6, but we can describe here what happened to pictorial style in the North China Plain. The earliest engravings in the classical tradition known to me are those I shall label products o f the early Jiaxiang school. It first appears in engravings datable to about the middle o f the first century A . D . and, possibly, earlier (see chapter 5). Monuments in this school include the famous engravings at Xiaotangshan (fig. 63), some recendy discovered tomb engravings at Wulaowa, and a host o f scattered stones found throughout this century in the region of Jiaxiang (figs. 71,28). Human figures of this school resemble ceremonial figures of the Former Han dynasty, such as the famous "portrait"of the countess of Dai from Mawangdui (fig. 72) or, as Wilma Fairbank noted, early impressed tiles from the Former H a n . Persons are shown in profile and sometimes en face against a blank ground with a minimum o f props. Compositions are relatively uncrowded. Parallel perspective is employed for certain man-made objects such as carriages but, unlike the panel painting (fig. 9),figures are not shown in threequarter view and most action takes place in two dimensions. Contours tend to be curved but the rate o f curvature is low. Bodies rarely bend excessively or assume difficult or violent postures. It is a simple, beautiful style well suited to endowing human figures with an appearance of slow motion, dignified posture, and grace. Particularly given the intaglio technique, these stones recall that reserved elegance one associates with Old Kingdom engravings. The procedures employed by this school of artists are quite versatile. On the one hand, they could be used to highlight geometric form. O n the other hand, they could, within limits, depict convincingly certain features o f bulk and weight, softness orfirm ne ss. That is to say, some features o f style favored geometric form and others favored a more naturalistic effect. First, geometry: the contours of all figures of this school are clean, smooth, and unmodulated. Occasionally contours display a perfection of form achievable only with mechanical aids. Such is the case in the carriage procession at Xiaotangshan (fig. 73). As can be seen from figure 73, the rump, foreleg, shoulder, and nape o f the horse closest to the viewer appear to have been shaped with a compass. The effect of geometric perfection is further enhanced by the addition of another horse behind. Its profile echoes that o f the first horse in a close, staccato rhythm, an arrangement suggested, possibly, by the figures in stamped tiles o f the Former Han. Other features o f this detail, however, are not so geometric. The driver's eyes are leaf-shaped, for example, and the reins hang a bit slack at the neck as the steeds march forward in perfect time. The early Jiaxiang engravers generally did not treat human figure s in this fashion. Consider the main figure in the so-called pavilion scene at Xiaotangshan (figs. 74, 75, 76 ) . Xiaotangshan is typical in that the main figure , larger than 24




71. Fro m top to bottom: wind go d blowing at two figures; a wheelwright at work; Kin g Cheng and the Duke o f Zh o u ; two horses tied to a tree. Stone engraving from Li u jiacun, Shandong, first century A . D . Fro m Ch avan n e s ,Mis s io n , no . 147.

his attendants and seated, is seen in profile. Simple as it is, the figure possesses subde cues for texture, weight, and bulk. He kneels in a dignified yet comfortable posture. The gendy curving contours make the figure appear soft yet firm . The line describing the contour o f his back changes subdy, bulging slighdy at the shoulder blades and then turning inward toward the lower back. The bulge at the shoulder blades corresponds to another bulge where the shoulder meets the upper arm (in fro nt), suggesting a certain degree o f bulk running from the voluminous right sleeve across the back and to the far shoulder. This impression is enhanced in the original by the intaglio technique, since the stone surface




7z . Th e countess of Dai with attendants. Detail of the painted banner fro m Mawangdui to m b i , Changsha, Hu n an , early second century B. C. Fro m X» hart bo h u a (Beijing, 1972), pl. VI.

73. Ho rse and carriage. Stone engraving fro m the Xiaotangshan shrine, near Feicheng, Shandong, first-seco nd century A . D . Ink rubbing, University of Michigan Museum of Transfer from Slide and Pho to Co llectio n, Department of the Histo ry of





75. Detail of a pavilion scene. Stone engraving from the Xiaotangshan shrine, near Feicheng, Shandong, first-second century A . D . Ink rubbing, from Chavannes, Mission,

no . 46.




76. Detail of the main personage in fig. 75. Ink rubbing, University of Michigan Museum o f Art. Transfer from Slide and Photo Co llectio n, Department of the Histo ry of Art.

inside the contour is in fact curved. A sense of weight is discernible in the sashes that hang from the gendeman's waist. The shortest o f these hangs straight down. Two more hang loosely across the thigh, their other ends attached to the fro nt of the figure. Nothing about the figure appears hard, sharp, or geometric. Even the hat o f the figure behind curves gendy in fro nt, coming to a soft, blunted point. In another scene at Xiaotangshan, a gendeman sits gravely grasping his bow in the face o f a mighty wind (figs. 77, 78). Here the bulk created by the corresponding curves at the shoulder blade and shoulder is more noticeable. The flexibilityo f the sashes at his side is evident as they blow backward in the strong wind. Even his cap appears soft, for it, too, bends under pressure even as the figure remains steadfast. His eyes are leaf-shaped, like those of the horses in the same shrine. Other indications o f texture include the skirts of the standing figure behind him, whose hems fly outward, described by a curve which runs from behind the figure 's legs to the fro nt side. To many these slight concessions to weight, bulk, and texture might appear minimal and unimpressive, but that is not the point. This school o f artists was




77. Th e wind go d blowing the ro o f off of a scholar's house. Stone engraving from the Xiaotangshan shrine, near Feicheng, Shandong, first-seco nd century A . D . Ink rubbing, University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Transfer from Slide and Pho to Co llectio n, Depart-

ment of the Histo ry of


78. Detail of the scholar in fig. 77. Ink rubbing, University of Michigan Museum of Transfer from Slide and Photo Co llectio n, Department of the Histo ry of






able to render a certain degree o f naturalistic softness as well as a degree o f geometric precision. The question is, which feature was favored by the local market over time? Traditional theories o f style would suggest that naturalism should win out in time, but that is not what happened, judging from the work of the late Jiaxiang school. Those monuments typical of the late Jiaxiang school (for example, figs. 79, 3) are spread over much the same area as those o f the early Jiaxiang sch o o l. This later school shares much with the early school, such as favored subject matter (such as the pavilion scene, the First Emperor and the tripods, King Cheng and the Duke o f Zho u, Confucius and Lao zi), a preference for profile views and two-dimensional action, the arrangement o f different scenes on the same stone in registers, and the use o f mathematical aids in depicting horses. Most likely, the later school is the direct descendant of the earlier school. If it is not a direct descendant, it still served the same market, as both schools worked the same territory. In either case, it is evident that the market in that part of the North China Plain preferred the later school over the earlier one, for monuments o f the early school disappear during the second century. Yet the late Jiaxiang engravings are characterized by a greater use of geometric form and the loss o f that minimal sense o f softness and bulk discernible in the early Jiaxiang school. This trend is seen best in figures in the pavilion scene. Our example is taken fro m the left Wu family shrine (figs. 13, 79). This scene is quite typical o f late Jiaxiang school engravings. The composition is much denser than in earlier engravings and the intaglio technique has been abandoned for a more complex and difficult process. The intaglio technique merely required the artist to cover the entire stone with striatums and then carve in the contour over these. Most traces o f the striations within the area o f the contour would disappear as he polished the area inside the contour. Last he would incise some fine lines for details such as eyes and the contours of clothing (fig. 80). In late Jiaxiang school work, the contour o f the figure must have been cut first in roughly hewn but fine -grain stone. Then the ground area between contours was covered with fine striations, which had to stop cleanly at the border of each figure or object (fig. 22). Afterwards the area within the contour could be polished flat and smooth, not recessed as in the intaglio technique. Finally, details would be added with very thin incisions on the smooth stone. This technique requires considerably more labor and skill fro m the artist. What he gains fro m his labors is a look o f greater precision and a beautiful contrast between the rough texture of the ground and the polished surface of each figure, lovingly incised in delicate lines. What he loses is the palpable curve o f the intaglio technique, a curve suggesting softness and volume. 26




79. Detail of the main personage in fig. 13. Stone engraving from the left Wu family shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, A . D . 147—167. Ink rubbing, University of Michigan Museum of Transfer from Slide and Pho to Co llectio n, Department of the Histo ry of


80. Confucius meeting Lao zi. Stone engraving fro m Shandong, first century A . D . Shandong Provincial Muse um , Ji'nan.




There is little reason to suppose, however, that the later Jiaxiang artists or their patrons were after a look of softness and volume. Carriages retain signs o f parallel perspective but tend to approach more closely a profile view than in earlier work (figs. 13, 73). The edges o f hems and sleeves are more sharply defined; scholar's hats come to a razor point and never bend, even when a figure faces the wind (figs. 13, 78). The profiles of the figures in this school still appear as smooth, unmodulated curves, but the rate of curvature is much greater. What this means is that sections of the contours o ffigures take the form of tighter arcs. In some parts o f a figure the rate o f curvature may be so high as to approach a semicircle in form. Some of these semicircles, in fact, were made with the use of a compass (fig. 81). Instances of the use of mechanical aids were noted when we discussed early Jiaxiang engravings, but the technique was limited mosdy to horses. In the later Jiaxiang school, such instances are common in human figures. In fact, forms that are geometrically perfect or nearly so occur in late Jiaxiang engravings with some frequency. Since a circle can only sit flat on the picture plane, the overall effect o f this practice is to enhance the flatness o f the design. To understand how this works, let us turn back to the earlier and later figures in the pavilion scene (figs. 76, 79). In both figures the rump is perfecdy curved and may have been made with a compass. In the later piece, however, the rate o f curvature is so high as to approach a semicircle. This alteration makes a great difference in the way we see the figure. In the earlier figure the rump appears to have bulk despite the perfection o f the curve; in the laterfigure it appears flat, like a cut-out, because the form can be read with equal ease as semicircle or as rump. Of course, in the earlier piece there is more to the illusion than a softer arc. The sash on that figure hangs downward in response to gravity, and other strands of the sash bend as they cross the thigh. In the laterfigure the sash is wide and echoes the curve o f the rump, following an arc that can only exist on a flat plane (figs. 79, 82). The seated figure 's body could not possibly conform to such a shape. The line o f the belt at the waist is long enough and straight enough to preclude the possibility that it describes the volume o f a waist. The same strategy was carried through in the left sleeve. Like the early figure's sleeve, this one is defined by a smooth arc, but an arc which makes no concessions to the rest o f the body. It sits apart in its perfection o f form, touching at one end the ruler-perfect line o f the waist, and at the other end coming to an abrupt halt at the left hand. Taken as a whole, this conglomeration of arcs, lines, and semicircles makes a composition worthy o f a Malevitch or a Kandinsky (fig. 82). This is not a style for those who appreciate a sense of mass



81. Detail of a horse and carriage fro m the battle scene in the front Wu family shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, A . D . 147—167. Ink rubbing, University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Transfer fro m Slide and

Photo Co llectio n, Department of the Histo ry of


82. Drawing showing the major curves of the personage in fig. 79.



83. Detail of Confucius's carriage in the Confucius meeting Lao zi scene of the front Wu family shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, A . D . 147-167. Ink rubbing, private collection, An n Arbo r.

and weight; but to those with an eye for precision and perfection o f form, it could have considerable appeal. A look at the delineation of horses will show that this pursuit of perfect form goes much further than I have suggested. Early Jiaxiang school horses often show the marks of mechanical aids on the rump, chest, and nape of the neck. In later engravings, however, the earlier trend is carried out more consistendy. The arc at the nape can extend further to cover more of the forehead (figs. 63,6,13). The arc at the rump extends further down before meeting the hind legs o f the horse (figs. 63, 81), more closely approximating a circle in form. Now, too, mechanical aids are sometimes applied to other parts o f the body, such as the jowls. Finally, the eyes of the later horses, and even those of the human figures, take the form o f isosceles and right triangles (figs. 6, 7). Odd as it seems, this habit is consistent with other aspects o f this style, such as the bladelike hats, which sit on human heads as though lifted from a geometry textbook. If these artists were striving for naturalism, they were doing a remarkably bad job of it.



There is a positive side to all this, if we put aside our own prejudice for naturalistic form. The technique o f the late Jiaxiang school highlights the delicacy and precision of the artist's carving and in doing so enhances the beauty of the stone itself. In keeping with this aesthetic, the artist seems to have delighted in the subde elaboration o ffine patterns across the smooth surface o f the stone. Everywhere in these engravings one finds objects covered with fine patterns that would be absent in the work of the early school (figs. 83,4). These patterns are always regular, unobtrusive, and understated, but fauldessly executed. Similar trends can be seen in other schools of engraving, although the use o f mechanical aids nowhere surpasses that o f the late Jiaxiang engravers. Early second-century engravings of what one might call the Liangchengshan school, for instance, are much given to the use o f regular patterns on every available surface (figs. 31,32). Carvers in the Xuzhou area worked in a similar tradition in the late second century (figs. 84, 85). At first sight, the later engravings might appear to be products of the same school, but there are important differences. Chief among these is the fact that the patterns covering the later stones are cleaner and appear to make greater use of mechanical aids. The use of such aids seems likely, for instance, in the engraving o f a scholar seated before a curtain (fig. 85). Both the patterns on the scholar's sleeve and those on the curtain appear to have been made with a compass. The striations are denser and more regular, moreover, than in figures of the earlier school (fig. 3 2). That this is so is all the more remarkable because the laterfigures, when considered without their surface patterns, have the potential to appear quite three-dimensional. This much is obvious when we look at similarfigure s from the region carved on smooth stone without the striations (fig. 35). The artist who carved the scholar in figure 8 5 must have drawn in the outline first and could have appreciated the appearance o f volume inherent in that form. Yet he continued to cover his objects with geometric patterns whose overall effect is to deny the threedimensionality the figure originally possessed. All over the North China Plain the styles are different, but the taste is much the same. Later engravings display a greater proliferation o ffigure s across the surface of the stone, the number o f decorative incisions applied to architecture or clothing increases, and we find the compass and square applied more stricdy and widely to human and animal figures in later engravings than in earlier ones. Insofar as these features can be traced in several schools o f engraving in the region, it seems sound to regard these as highly marketable features successfully meeting the artistic needs o f hundreds o f scholar-gentry consumers over a period o f several generations.



84. Social gathering inside a building, above which phoenixes gather and display. Stone engraving from a shrine atTo ngshan, Ho n glo u , near Xuzho u, Jiangsu, second century A . D . Ink rubbing, Xuzho u Municipal Muse um .

85. Detail of a scholar in fig. 84.



The reasons for these trends cannot be sought within the form alone, nor will help be found in appeals to universal trends in style. The coexistence o f contradictory cues for frugality and indulgence, or the taste for forms which were at one level quite simple and at another quite sophisticated, was rooted in the complex attitudes toward wealth and poverty projected by the scholars o f this region. These attitudes ultimately took shape in the ceremonies, buildings, and engravings that were the visible signs o f China's first classical revival.




A .X. ^. b o u t the time the Former Han empire was criimbling, Au gustus Caesar began the reformation o f the Roman world on the basis o f "classical" ideals. Similar ideas were brewing in the world's other great empire, but it would not be until the time o f Emperor Ming (reigned 5 8-76) that the Chinese classical revival reached its peak. It was also about this time that pictorial art acquired the capacity to assert a wide range o f propositions other than declarations o f material wealth. That China's first period o f classicism should occur just at the moment when middle-income scholars were turning art to rhetorical uses is no accident. The two phenomena can no more be separated than literature and literacy. One hesitates to use the word classicism outside o f a European context. Yet there seems to be no better term to describe the conscious revival by Emperor Min g o f institutions and norms preserved in the Confucian classics. O f course, the "existence" o f classicism in China is not something that can be determined like the existence o f neutron stars or gravity waves. Terms such as "classicism" for China and "feudalism" for Japan are heuristic devices; they are meaningful only insofar as they are useful. An d they are useful only when applied rigorously as an aid to understanding more fundamental patterns o f human experience. The question is, was there an experience in Han China that can usefully be termed "classical"? I believe that the many parallels between the Roman experience and the Han experience justify the maintenance o f an implicit comparison through the use o f the term. It is not merely that both societies adopted certain



ideals from the past as normative. In imperial Rome as in imperial China, the authority for the ideal which became classical was derived fro m a past known chiefly through literary sources and works o f art. And in both traditions propriety, simplicity, and restraint were qualities prized in works deemed worthy o f imitation. Such standards were novelties in the ancient world, where the ideals o f Bronze Age societies more often were founded on religious authority and expressed in signs o f material magnificence. In Rome and in China, the men and institutions set aside as exemplary derived their authority, not fro m mystical power, not from the exercise o f wealth, and not from brute force, but fro m merits demonstrated and recorded in history. In China this use o f history imparted new flexibilityto the art o f government, for it shifted the burden o f demonstration from the present to the past. It also imparted new freedom to a broader range o f social groups, for it meant that a man's clothing, architecture, gestures, and speech could partake o f the authority o f the past independent o f current conditions. Viewed in this light, classicism was incipient in the Confucian scholar's way o f life. The Shandong literatus was careful to wear the right clothes, adopt the appropriate posture, and choreograph his movements so as to resemble as closely as possible current notions about the ancient sages. For it was the burden of every scholar to become, insofar as possible, a living sage; a man whose classical authority was as apparent in his physical appearance as in his words. This was an important extension o f the use o f the exemplary, for if classical authority (derived, as it was, fro m literary works) had been limited to acts o f writing and speech, it would never have been able to replace the ornamental tradition o f royal pomp and splendor. But the scholars devised ways to extend the authority o f the classics to the visible world. They applied the rhetorical devices o f language to visual imagery. Thanks to the keen, if cynical, observations o f the economists, we have some early comments about the visual aspects of Confucian rhetoric: "Confounders o f truth you are, O literati, with yourflintyfaces and mushy hearts; you confound reality with your cultured appearance and plebian insides! You plagiarize the Duke o f Zho u in your dress with all these well-cuffed robes and loose belts, plagiarize Confucius in your appearance with all these low-crooked curtsies and mincing steps; plagiarize Confucius' disciples in your rhetoric with all this crooning and sententiousness. . . . Should we entrust you with the practical problems o f administration you will bring nothing but confusion worse compounded and complete misgovernment." This sounds like a rather good caricature o f the scholar's pretensions, but the economist did not shun other opportunities to lampoon his enemy's "greedy heart but dignified mien,"his "plain clothes and torn sandals, [his] absorption in thought and lingering walk, as if 1


under the burden o f some loss," and his "immaculate semblance," a visual analogue to that moral purity with which he justified his speech. The anachronistic dress, affected mannerisms, and archaic speech o f the literati are attested in other early sources as we ll. But these things were merely a dress rehearsal for the big show, for when Emperor Guangwu came to power (25-58), the scholars acquired a champion who truly understood the political potential o f classical stage plays. 2

The way for Guangwu had been paved by Wang Mang (reignedA.D. 9-23), who had tried to cast himself in the role o f the living sage. Wang Mang's failure did not cause Guangwu to abandon his methods—he simply used them more skillfully. More than any other ruler before him, Guangwu successfully assumed the role o f an enlightened sage king. One o f his first public acts was to initiate the official restoration o f missing classical texts. Shortly thereafter he erected an Imperial Academy designed on the basis o f descriptions in the classics. The academy was equipped with ritual vessels believed to date to the classical period (the period when the classics were being written). And like the literati o f the salt and iron debates, the scholars who walked about within these hallowed halls modeled their clothing on that o f the sages. Even their mode o f ambulation was said to be "square" or "measured," in keeping with the ideals o f classical texts. This was the beginning o f what was to become China's first classical revival. 3

The political import o f Guangwu's classical restoration was not lost on the literati. Numbers o f scholars who had taken flight during the turmoil o f the preceding years came out o f hiding and "gathered in the capital like clouds"to serve and support the court. This was precisely what Guangwu wanted and he would not disappoint them. A century before this, during the salt and iron debates, the literati had championed the promotion o f academies and schools and improvements in the lives of the underprivileged. Guangwu addressed these pleas and more by strengthening the Imperial Academy and by making publicly visible acts o f charity. He had still more ambitious ideas, but passed away before his grandest designs could be realized. In all these works, as in his earlier battle for the dragon throne, Guangwu relied heavily upon the imagery and authority o f the Confucian classics. 4

Guangwu's dependence on the classics during and after his struggle for power illustrates the depth o f social change that had occurred since the salt and iron debates. Those debates were all about the criteria for political and, hence, official success. Did the government gauge its strength by the size o f its markets or by its degree o f compliance with classical precedent? This was still a live issue in 81 B . C. , but by Guangwu's tim e things had changed. Guangwu had wrested the empire from the usurper Wang Mang at high cost. With a drained economy and a population decimated by war, the arguments o f the economists must have


lacked persuasiveness. Instead o f stimulating the market for luxury goods, Guangwu initiated a frugality campaign, trimming the fat off his bureaucracy and encouraging thrift throughout the empire. In all these things his standard o f success—and thus the ground o f political discourse—had changed from one o f practical economy to one o f classical precedent. This standard o f achievement, being one step removed from reality, was considerably more flexible than the account book standard, and well suited to a period o f economic and political regeneration. The economists had supported their policies largely by pointing to the beneficial effects o f a booming economy. For Confucian scholars, it was not necessary to justify policy in terms o f immediate benefits. It was in the nature o f Confucian rhetoric to argue present policy on the basis o f future successes. The guarantee o f future success was not to be sought in present performance but in the models o f the past, the Confucian sages. In casting himself as a sage king, Guangwu had invented a form o f ideological credit. But the emperor was too shrewd to build his empire on a dream alone. There was real backing for Guangwu's ideological credit in the political support o f large numbers of Confucian gentry, both great and small. Local gentry muscle had already begun to reveal itself at the time o f the salt and iron debates, and Guangwu had the foresight to appreciate the political potential of this group. By embracing Confucianism, he gained the enthusiastic support not only o f a few big clans but o f most middle- and lower-level gentry as well. These families supported Guangwu, not in return for immediate rewards, but in the hope o f future opportunities. As families with a tradition o f scholarship, they could hope to better themselves through recommendation and advancement in the bureaucracy; Confucian learning was the currency that could purchase that advancement. Guangwu's claims for a better future were more than just an early form o f political hype. It was to the advantage o f locals to favor a Confucian claimant to the throne. As Hans Bielenstein has observed, 'Th e members o f the lesser gentry picked [Guangwu] as their candidate just as much as he picked them as his followers. It was they who persuaded him to ascend the throne, and who advised against policies which might have endangered that go al." One could say that Guangwu had acquired the political capital o f a majority o f large and middle-sized gentry on long-term loan, to be repaid over the years in opportunities for government office. The founding o f the Latter Han thus marks a new era in which more fluid access to social and economic prerogatives made o f politics a numbers game. The new emperor outmaneuvered his opponents by broadening his base o f support. The literati made the replication of their own kind a high priority. They 5




understood that the yell of a hundred jackals was more than equal to the roar of a few lions. It was therefore by mutual consent, and with the expectation o f mutual benefit, that the imperial court and the scholars adopted the norms and imagery o f Han Confucianism as the basis for political action. It was this unspoken pact that encouraged the emperor to adopt at court the same classical standards that the local gentry would adopt on the walls o f their tombs and shrines.

The Classical


under Emperor


The Confucian scholars viewed the distant classical past as an antidote to the decadence of the recent past. Present reform could be effected only by taking the classical past as a model. It was this which made the idea of a classical revival so appealing to emperors Guangwu and his son Ming, for both were interested in showing the superiority of their dynasty over that of the Former Han. They were more than happy to oblige the scholars who supported them by rivaling the political achievements o f the ancient kings. Thus, from the beginning, classical standards were promulgated as part of a dialectic in which the moral values o f the classics were set in contrast to the material values o f the Former Han court. This meant, in effect, realizing many of the demands made by the Shandong literati during the salt and iron debates, such as reducing centralized controls and allowing greater local autonomy, placing more emphasis on education than on the marketplace, and replacing the ornamental tradition of court pomp with new standards of classical taste. The contrast is evident in virtually every page of the apologetic literature o f the period, where the architecture and ceremonies of the previous dynasty are dismissed as extravagant, while those o f Emperor Ming are described as symmetrical ( y i y i ) , solemn (su), majestic (wei), dignified (ji and w e i ) , frugal (jian), stately (m u), restrained (jie), and simple (su)—which is to say, in keeping with the moral standards of the sage kings. Emperor Guangwu had made a beginning toward realizing classical standards with his Imperial Academy, complete with antique vessels and arcane scholars. But it was Emperor Ming who succeeded in bringing to life the dead drama o f the classics, himself taking the lead part as the Sage King. Under Ming's auspices, the sacred institutions recorded in the classics were reconstructed in wood and stone, reenacted in flesh and blood, for the benefit o f thousands of classically-clad officers. This spectacle took place in A . D . 5 8. It was initiated by a procession in which the Son of Heaven himself appeared with the sun and moon emblazoned on his robes, accompanied by the most powerful officials in the empire and an escort of thirty-six carriages. 7



Afterwards, according to the histories, the emperor "sat in the Bright Hall and held court with all the nobility."If taken literally, this is an odd way to put things because the nobility had ceased to play a meaningful role in Han politics for more than a century. The emperor did not govern by means o f institutions such as the Bright Hall; the empire was administered by a professional bureaucracy that did not exist in Zhou times. The phrase makes sense, however, if we realize that the classics use virtually these same words to describe the rule o f Confucius's model sage, the Duke of Zhou. Ming's theatrics with the nobility in the Bright Hall are more accurately described as a classical citation than as a political institution. When Emperor Ming built the Bright Hall, he did not so much actualize the institutions of the Zho u dynasty as reify the rhetoric of the literati. He similarly gave substance to the dusty diction of the Classic of Rites by reviving the defunct archery ceremony as a means o f testing the virtue o f his men. In all these projects Min g successfully appropriated the sage kings as part of the iconography o f authority at least a decade before the earliest known appearance o f these icons on the walls o f literati tombs and shrines. Ming's mastery of this medium extended to all aspects of traditional Confucian lore. Classical scholarship, for instance, provided the justification and model o f authority for Latter Han rulers, and Emperor Ming publicly lectured on the classics at the (Zhou) Royal College, entertaining obscure questions fro m the crowd of attending doctors. The structure of authority in Han Confucianism rested upon respect for elders, and Emperor Ming personally honored and served elders from the districts in another much touted ceremony in the Royal College. Filial piety was the analogue o f loyalty to the nation, and Emperor Ming urged that all the families of soldiers in the imperial guard study the Classic of Fi l i a l Piety. Frugality and restraint were elemental virtues o f the sage kings; Emperor Min g issued edicts exalting "frugality and moderation," while dispensing with useless trappings on palace apartments and vehicles. Times had certainly changed since the days of the debates on salt and iron. With his elaborate pageantry the emperor had transformed the attributes o f success fro m the marks of material profusion to exemplars of authority, the sage kin gs. 9



i n t he


In the study of early Chinese art it has been common to suppose that major cultural trends were set at the capital and that the people of the provinces sought, with varying degrees of success, to mimic the fashions of the court. Such may often be the case in court-centered societies, but in Han China the bureaucratic system made possible a network of tensions between capital and provincial cultural centers. Emperor Ming's classical revival offers a good illustration o f



how widely Han China diverged from the old court-centered pattern. The inspiration for his revival, after all, came from the scholars o f Shandong rather than from the capital area. An d even after the court embraced classical norms, there is little evidence that the trend had much impact on pictorial art outside the greater Shandong region. On the contrary, Confucian standards o f taste are rather difficult to detect in much o f the art o f Latter Han China. At Nanyang, for instance, which boasts some o f the earliest engravings of the Latter Han, tomb decoration follows the tradition o f Former Han opulent styles (figs. 86,43). In these engravings nimble figure s, naked or in loose-cuffed trousers, commonly dance, chase, or combat each other amid patterns o f cloud and animal imagery. Similar compositions can be found in late Former Han lacquerware or can be traced as far back as the early second century B. C. (figs. 27,42, 57). All o f these works share a pictorial tradition featuring dovetailing curves repeated in figure and ground pattern alike. In other words, there is little to distinguish this art from the sumptuously carved walls and beams described in chapter 2. But then, why should this art have changed? Nanyang was famous as a center for rich merchants, eunuchs, and court favorites. There is no reason why such patrons should have altered their tastes to please the Shandong scholars. In Shaanxi and Sichuan in the west and southwest, the old patterns also persisted throughout the first and second centuries (figs. 87, 58). True, during the Latter Han we begin to find a greater interest in narrative scenes all across China, but such scenes were not themselves new. Moreover, references to the classics in these works are hard to find outside the Shandong region. Except for pieces made during Wang Mang's short reign, published Nanyang engravings include hardly a single unambiguous reference to classical literature. In Shaanxi such references, likewise, are rare. In Sichuan we do find some classical subjects, but these appear late (latter half o f the second century) and still constitute a distinct m in o rity. A close examination o f the reliefs o f Latter Han China would show that the ornamental tradition had undergone some important changes, especially outside o f Nanyang, but its spirit was continuous with the lacquer paintings o f the Former Han. In ancient Shandong, however, the ornamental tradition all but disappeared without a trace during the first century A . D . In its place there evolved a pictorial tradition more dependent on imagery than on material manipulation for its meaning. Unlike the old lacquer paintings and inlaid bronzes, its major source o f imagery was neither myth nor folk religion but a body of classical literature. It was the first tradition o f art in China that was able to mimic, in certain respects, the properties o f literature. The clearest sign o f this new orientation is the appearance o f scenes and images fro m the classics, a strategy reminiscent o f some o f Emperor Ming's 11




86. Sporting acrobats or immortals. Stone engraving from Nanyang, He nan, Latter H a n dynasty. Ink rubbing, from Shan Xiushan, Che n Jihai, and Wang Rulin , Nanyaryj huaxicmgshike


(Shanghai, 1981), fig. 69.

87. Abo ve: deer and other animals amid cloud designs; below: a tiger-like beast stalks a running man with a hatchet. Detail o f a stone engraving from a tomb at Miz h i, Shaanxi, dated A. D . 107. Shaanxi Provincial Museum , Xi'an .

projects. In first-century monuments it is n ot u n com m on , for instance, t o see the sagely Du ke o f Zh o u transferring the power o f government t o the righ tful ruler, Ki n g Ch en g. Sometimes one finds Con fucius and his disciples. Sometimes Confucius seeks advice from other wise m en (fig. 80). In place of the old clou d scrolls wit h their wild beasts, we n ow find phoenixes and strange h ybrid creatures (fig. z8) whose appearance certifies the goodness o f the government. Instead of im m ortals strewn like leaves o n a fluid of swirlin g patterns, we see the Q ueen o f Immortals presidin g like an officer at court over marvelous yet tame creatures whose m oral m eaning is attested in the books of scholars (fig. 28 ) . Such engravings appear quite suddenly in the archaeological record. Th ey can now be dated rough ly t o the first century A.D. by com parison wit h a recently discovered t om b at W u laowa, Shan don g. 13



The engravings o f the Wulaowa tomb (figs. 88-91) are the earliest datable works in a long line which I am calling the classical tradition. Within that tradition the Wulaowa engravings and related monuments constitute a distinct school, which I have called the early Jiaxiang school, to distinguish it fro m the later Jiaxiang school. What makes this tomb so important is the fact that it bears a cyclical date which could correspond to A . D . 7, A . D . 67, or A . D . I 27, a period during which the scholars were active in po litics. The archaeologists who excavated the tomb noted that in style the engravings closely resemble those o f the shrine at Xiaotangshan (fig. 75), which is known to have been completed some time before A . D . 129. Unfortunately, it is not known how long before. The date A . D . 7 is not impossible but not particularly likely either, given the absence o f comparable monuments at that early time. The year A . D . I 27 is also possible but unlikely considering that all monuments securely dated to the second century exhibit styles far more developed both in organization and in cutting technique. Because the stones fro m Feicheng dated A . D . 83 resemble the Wulaowa stones in many respects, Chinese scholars concluded that A . D . 67 was the most likely date. They might have noted also that engravings o f the stone towerfro m Nanwuyang, dated A . D . 86 or 87, are close in style to the Wulaowa stones. We may safely conclude that the school of engravers responsible for the Wulaowa tomb emerged, in all probability, before or during the reign o f Emperor Min g, but no later than the reign o f his son, Emperor Zhang. This school o f artists may be credited with a host o f miscellaneous engravings found in Jiaxiang county, as well as better-known engravings at Nanwuyang, Xiaotangshan, and Houji. It is clear that this school flo urished in Shandong at the same time that schools o f artists who continued to favor cloud and animal imageryflo urished near Nanyang. 14

Except for their closeness in date, the engravings at Wulaowa and Nanyang have little in common. The primary message o f most murals at Nanyang is wealth and pleasure; the underlying message o f the mortuary murals at Wulaowa is the reformation o f life after the model o f the classics. It is immediately obvious in figure s 88 to 91 that the many scenes o f immortals, dragons, and other beasts hopping among cloud patterns at Nanyang are absent entirely at Wulaowa, and the same can be said for its many sister monuments. In contrast to the numerous scenes o f performers common in Nanyang tombs, the Wulaowa tomb devotes only one stone to scenes o f entertainment, distributing among three registers pictures o f musicians, acrobats, and food preparation. One register o f another stone depicts a hunting scene, which may also be considered a form of entertainment. Apart from these, all other engravings fall under one of two rubrics: scenes o f political administration and scenes taken from classical sources.


88. Pavilion scene with an inscription that reads, "Th e former governor." Stone engraving from the tomb at Wulaowa, near Jiaxiang, Shandong, first century A. D . Ink rubbing, from Zh u Xilu , "Jiaxiang wulaowa faxian yi pi han huaxiang sh i," Wenwu,

May 1982, fig. 6.

89. To p to bottom: the wind go d blowing a scholar's ro o f off; battle with bandits; bandits receiving justice; the governor and his military staff. Stone engraving from the tomb at Wulaowa, near Jiaxiang, Shandong, first century A . D . Ink rubbing, from Zh u Xilu, "Jiaxiang," fig. 10.



90. To p to bottom : wind go d blowing a scholar's ro o f off; carriage scene; battle with bandits; bandits brought to justice. Stone engraving from the tomb at Wulaowa, near Jiaxiang, Shandong, first century A . D . Ink rubbing, fro m Zh u Xilu , "Jiaxiang," fig. 4.



Scenes o f political aclministration are prominent at Wulaowa, where selections fro m the life history of the deceased are recorded in pictorial form. In one engraving (fig. 88), the deceased is identified by inscription as holding the rank of grand administrator, or governor, of a pro vince . Once this is known, the reliefs in figures 89 and 90 are most readily interpreted as illustrations of the administrative accomplishments of the deceased. In figure 89, the third register up from the bottom, it appears that military forces o f the government are engaging rebels or bandits. In the bottom register, the grand administrator seems to advise his officers on matters of strategy, and in the register above this we see bound captives being brought to him for sentencing. Traditional cues for wealth and luxury are absent. In their place we find pictorial evidence o f administrative achievement. This is the first tim e such strategies are employed in a dated monument. It must have met with favor among the local scholars, for it was still being used in major monuments o f the second century A . D . At the Wu shrines, for instance, scenes of officials in carriages labeled 'Th is is the master when he was an officer in the bureau for all purposes"or 'Th is is the master when he was a gendeman o f the palace" echo the claims of Wu Rong's inscription in which we learn that he 15


held these offices. Likewise, Wu Liang's memorial inscription boasts that he was uninterested in the material rewards of office, a claim supported by the scene in which a "retired scholar" is granted recognition by the local authorities. The authority for claims about the grand administrator's competence or Wu Liang's virtue derives, not from the exercise of wealth, but from the facts of their lives. Pictorial imagery also made it possible to make claims about the classical learning o f the deceased as well as the survivors. Wu Hung has shown how thoroughly the images in Wu Liang's shrine make known his own learning and interests. Wu Liang's inscription contends that he was "loyal and filial, lofty and uncommon. He had mastered Master Han's Book of Songs . . . and was fully conversant with the apocryphal texts and the various histories and annals, so that he was extremely learned and disce rning." It is difficult to imagine how an artist could have represented Wu Liang "being filial" or "being learned and discerning,"but any educated person of the Latter Han could have deduced as 16


91. To p to bottom: the first emperor raising the tripods o f Zh o u ; Confucius and his disciples meeting Lao zi and the boy Xiang Tu o ; Ki n g Che ng and the Duke o f Zh o u ; Confucius meeting Lao zi. Stone engraving fro m the tomb at Wulaowa, near Jiaxiang, Shandong, first century A . D . Ink rubbing, from Zhu Xilu , "Jiaxiang," fig. 9.



much from the mural scheme of his shrine, which includes, among other things, illustrations o f filial sons and daughters, loyal ministers and Gonfucian exemplars drawn from a variety o f classics, as well as an illustrated text from a contemporary apocryphal book. These illustrations o f classical works function like citations in an argument supporting the contention that Wu Liang was learned, loyal, filial, and so on. The Wu family shrines represent the most mature phase o f the classical tradition, but fro m the Wulaowa stones it is clear that, sometime between the salt and iron debates and the mid-first century A . D . , the Shandong scholars had already begun to favor imagery and styles adapted to making specific kinds o f propositions rather than general statements about the material well-being of the deceased or the mourning family.



Unlike traditional royal imagery, classical imagery was not the sole prerogative o f the highest elites. That the scholar wore the large sleeves and loose belt o f the Duke o f Zhou helped to bolster his argument. That Emperor Ming held court in the Bright Hall helped to demonstrate his claim to the allegiance o f the scholar-gentry. That the stones at Wulaowa cited stories fro m the classics helped to establish the credentials of the deceased and his followers. Just how closely the use o f the classics at Wulaowa follows that o f Emperor Min g may not be apparent as yet, for Ming implicidy compared his own actions to those of men described in the classics. Yet, almost as if to mimic the actions o f their emperor, the patrons of the Wulaowa tomb explicidy compared the grand administrator's actions to those extolled in the classics. In my account of the engravings illustrating the achievements of the grand administrator, I neglected to consider the uppermost register o f each o f those two stones (figs. 89, 90). In both engravings, the major figure is a large gendeman distinguished by a series o f lines fanning out fro m his lips. Similar figures are to be found at Xiaotangshan (fig. 77) and at Liujiacun (fig. 71). Closer inspection of the Wulaowa engraving shows that this figure is the god o f wind, and a violent god he is, for the hair and clothing of those in his path flyout and the roof of the house in both engravings blows away. What does the wind have to do with the classics? The wind plays a part in a number of classical sources, one of which has been identified by Hayashi Minao in connection with the scene at Xiaotangshan (fig. 77). In that engraving the wind is accompanied by other deities, many o f whom may be identified by comparison with later engravings of this school. The figure in the carriage with drums circling his head, for instance, is clearly the god o f thunder, very much


calling to mind Wang Chong's description o f paintings o f thunder in his own time: "When painters represent thunder, it is like so many joined drums, heaped together. They also paint a man having the semblance of an athlete and call him 'the Thunderer.' In his left hand they give him joined drums to pull; in his right hand he brandishes a hammer, as though he were going to strike ." If this is the thunder god, then the deities holding large bowls with lines o f water (?) streaming out of them must be rain deities, while a staid figure holding a thin, forked object suggests the god o f lightning. Other winged figures scamper about; these are doubdess attendant atmospheric deities. Inside the house are three men. One grasps a pillar for support, yet faces the wind. A second gendeman stands facing the wind with the hem o f his garment flaring out and behind him. A third, the largest, sits quiedy grasping his bow while the wind blows his roof off. Hayashi compared this scene to a line from the Book of Rites: "If there be violent winds, rapid thunder and mighty rain, there is sure to be a change in fate. Though it be the middle o f the night, one must arise, don the proper robes and cap, and sit [according to the rules of pro prie ty]. If this is the reference intended by the patrons o f the work, then the point is that the gendeman is not disturbed by violent events but, at such times, holds fast to propriety. Hayashi's citation fits the scene at Xiaotangshan quite well, but seems less appropriate for the scenes at Wulaowa simply because the persons facing the wind do not sit. However, the classics provide other instances of the wind as a literaryfigure with much the same import. Consider this verse from one of the most popular o f classical texts, the Book of Songs: 18


Co ld blows the North Wind; Thick falls the snow. O friends! Let us join hands and go together. Is this the time to delay? The urgency is extreme. 20

This text fits one of the scenes at Wulaowa (fig. 90) and another at Liujiacun (fig. 77) better, for there the protagonists are holding hands. Other examples o f the use of this image in classical literature include this verse: Linen, fine or coarse, Is cold when worn in the wind. I think o f the ancients And find what is in my heart. 21

This, too, seems appropriate for Wulaowa. The standard glosses on both



verses interpret the wind as a literaryfigure for political trials and difficulties, a reading consistent with the thrust o f that passage in the Book of Rites. Probably it is not necessary to assume that the figure o f violent wind was intended as a reference to a particular text. The trope must have been familiar to all educated men, for it is used widely in classical works. Wang Chong refers to another source while discussing the successful career o f the ancient sage Shun. He tells us that Shun "filled his office with great credit and no disorder occurred," and then, as evidence for this claim, he notes that "he would enter a solitary, great forest without being attacked bytige rs and wolves or being bitten by vipers and snakes. In the midst o f thunderstorm or gushing rain shower he did not go astray." Wang Chong did not pull this little illustration out o f his hat. The reference is to the Book of History. There, determination in the face o f violent weather serves as a mark of the courage and steadfastness of Shun: "Shun carefully set forth the beauty o f the five cardinal duties and they came to be universally observed. Being appointed as General Regulator, the affairs of each department were arranged in their proper seasons. Having to receive the princes fro m the four quarters o f the empire, they were all docilely submissive. Being sent to the great plains at the foot of the mountains, amid violent wind, thunder and rain, he did not go astray." Shun was a paragon o f filial virtue and a paradigm o f the talented official who gets promoted due to success in administration. This is surely the subtext o f the illustration of violent wind at Wulaowa. No t that the upper register should be supposed to illustrate either the Book of Rites or the Book of History. The trope was known to Wang Chong's readers and very likely was a part o f every classicist's repertoire. The conventional meaning o f the classical trope is clear. Violent wind is a metaphor for trouble: political, social, personal. A proper gendeman stands fast in the face o f adversity, comforts and finds support in his friends, and maintains the composure o f a Confucian gendeman. Few classical tropes could more fittinglyaccompany illustrations of this grand administrator quelling rebels. The parallel placement of the scenes makes it inevitable that the reader compare the classical image with the actions o f the deceased, so that its meaning is hard to miss. One can imagine contemporaries concluding something like the following: The grand administrator's commandery was beset with violence—perhaps bandits, perhaps rebels. Government forces under the direction of the grand administrator met the threat and brought the villains to justice. All throughout the deceased, like a worthy man in a violent storm, sat calmly and held his ground. When the storm was over, he dispensed justice with even temper and with equanimity. Should the engravings have caused anyone to think further of the sage Shun, it is unlikely that the family would have objected. The same trope could have been used for many other officials, and probably was, 22



but in this tomb it suggests that the grand administrator reified the classics in his own life, just as Emperor Ming reified the classics with his pageantry. It is remarkable how thoroughly the claims of local elites mimic those of the highest echelons of power. By the mid-first century A . D . in the region extending fro m Loyang to Shandong (map 2), classical imagery had become a universal means of legitimation. It enabled the emperor to hold together his empire just as it helped the scholar to hold his place in the village pecking order, so that we find on local tombs and shrines the same parade of sages and the same platitudes that created such a spectacle in the capital. The iconography o f authority was no longer the prerogative of the rich and noble. In the more sophisticated parts o f China, at least, classical learning, as an asset, was as good as gold.

The Classical Revival Questions of Style

in A r t and


For the scholar, effective appropriation of classical authority was more than a matter of imagery alone; it was also a question o f style. While preaching about the Duke o f Zho u with his lips, the truly worthy pedant would adopt a "measured" gait, not to mention that look of gravity which inspired the economists to sneer. An d we might say that the clothing made the man in ancient China just as surely as in the West, for the scholar was careful to eschew beautifully embroidered garments in favor of plain clothes with wide sleeves and a loose belt. If the Confucian scholars took such care to foster a classical style in their own persons, how did they advise their sovereign when planning his classical dramas? What kinds of visual cues were available to bear the emperor's message o f temperance and frugality? The ancient historians rarely made observations pertinent to matters o f style. Consequendy, Emperor Ming's sensitivity to such matters might have been lost to us but for a work o f apologetic literature by the great scholar Ban Gu (32 B . C . - A . D . 92). The work is a long prose poem comparing the achievements of the Former Han emperors with those of the Latter Han. Considering that Ban Gu is thought to have written the poem while employed at Ming's court, the superiority accorded the Latter Han emperors comes as no surprise. What is surprising is the degree to which the poem's imaginary debate recalls the salt and iron debates of a century earlier. In many respects his poem reads like a rationalization o f the salt and iron debates by the winning team. In particular, the opulence-versus-ostentation theme is effectively re-presented in a dramatic fashion that makes Emperor Ming not just a hero, but a veritable avatar o f culture.



As in the salt and iron debates, the opening arguments o f each protagonist reveal the substance o f the debate to be the criteria o f political success. The guest, enthusiastic about the achievements o f the Former Han, recalls the great power o f its central government, its teeming markets, and the congregation o f merchants and nobility in the capital. There, princes' tassels and grand carriages rilled the streets and alleys, and even "shopgirls looked more sumptuous than great ladies."In the old capital, the most pedestrian o f citizens lived in luxury. The guest recalls the vast imperial parks, hunting games in which "every beast was slaughtered," and highly ornamented architecture, "built o f rare materials, with rafters shaped like dragons' pinions, pillars with bases o f jade, and rich, interlacing colors creating an effect o f luminous splendor."Atop palace towers, statues o f immortals stood holding pans to catch the rare dew upon which they fe d . Former Han imperial architecture resembled more a fairy paradise than the abode o f ordinary mortals. The host promotes a different attitude toward expenditure and cherishes a different style o f art. He dwells on the modest size of the Latter Han parks and the emperor's restrained hunting parties. 'There is no wholesale slaughter." Far fro m parading his beautifully dressed women, the host boasts that Emperor Min g commanded that the adornments in the ladies' quarters be discarded. Instead o f showing off his expensive clothing, "he counted the beauty o f fine silks a disgrace and would not wear them."Rather than parade about in fancy cars, the emperor ordered them stripped o f ornaments. Where others would display luxury items with pride, the emperor "despised the rare and exquisite and attached no value to them." As for those palaces like the dwellings o f immortals, Emperor Ming's temples were modeled on those o f the sage kings. Auspicious omens, not immortals, hovered over his palace buildings. Em peror Ming, we are told, cared little for material richness, but only wished to imitate the sage kings in his own person, much as the literati had been doing for more than a century. This, at least, was the message o f Ming's skillful propaganda, and many literati must have taken it to heart. One official, it seems, took it too seriously. The minister o f the grand commandant, not wishing to burden the people with the expense o f keeping his residence in good repair, let the once-grand building deteriorate. When Emperor Min g noticed its shabby condition, he exclaimed, "Kill an ox and indulge in wine; one should not let a beggar be a chief minister." Word o f imperial displeasure soon got back to the zealot, to his embarrassm e n t. This official had failed to strike the right balance between ostentation and parsimony. Emperor Ming's Bright Hall was well sealed with roofing tile, but what people outside saw was the covering o f thatch. 24




The Classical


Style of Engraving



The notion that the architecture o f Loyang conformed to classical standards of taste persisted into the second century, when Zhang Heng's prose poems reiterated many o f the same themes as Ban Gu's, contrasting the profusion and confusion of Former Han architecture with the simplicity and restraint of Latter Han buildings: Gaozu established his capital in the west and was ostentatious. Guangwu dwelled in the east and was frugal. The rise and fall o f a government have always depended on these factors. . . . [In Gaozu's palaces] they embellished the ornate rafters and jade finials, From which streamed sunlight's blazing radiance. There were carved columns on jade pedestals, Embroidered brackets with cloud-patterned rafters, A triple staircase, a double porch, Studded railings with figured edging. . . . All [the buildings] were tall and stately, jagged and peaked, And there was no way to perceive their patte rn. 27

Throughout the poem, as in these select lines, the sinuous figures typical o f Former Han design and a host o f formal surprises remain the very shape o f empty pretense and ostentation. What, then, is the shape o f classical humanism? What do humanity and justice look like when congealed into the forms o f art? Zhang Heng had an answer that Emperor Ming would have liked. Guangwu's capital, according to him, was well-balanced and well-ordered. . . . [There is a building] they call the Hall of Excellent Virtue. With doors west and south, It is neither carved nor chiseled. Our lord, being devoted to frugality, Comes here to relax and to re st. 28

This is classicism, not puritanism. There are decorations in the palace, but the poet mentions these specially, as though such things are by no means ubiquitous, and takes care to distinguish between the rare, yet restrained beauty of the Latter Han and the unbounded exuberance of the Former Han:



On the west, there is The Peaceful Joy assembly area, And its belvedere visible fro m afar. With the dragon-bird coiled around it, An d the celestial horse rearing itself proudly, All is unique and unusual, wondrous and strange, Glittering and glistening, bright and sparkling. Though lavish, it is not extravagant; Though frugal, it is not crude. An d never is one allowed to forget the point, emphasized in the salt and iron debates, that labor that is the human cost o f all beauty: "In planning and setting to work, he does not rush them, Yet theyfinished in less than a day." Still, he said, "those who built it toiled, While he who dwells in it enjoys him self." 29

Where Former Han taste (according to our apologist) required an effect o f gaity and dazzling profusion, the description o f the achievements o f the Latter Han emperors makes much o f activities calling for a quieter aesthetic: The ceremony, solemn and serious, is consummately performed; The rite s, majestic and stately, are fully observed. 30

Zhang Heng's poem is part o f a rhetorical tradition stretching from the tim e o f the salt and iron debates right on through the second century. The ethical contrast which was the core of this rhetorical tradition had a consistent aesthetic dimension. Certain kinds o f social values were widely associated with specific kinds o f shapes and styles. Visually confusing, tortuous shapes, such as those o f the ornamental tradition, signified, for Confucian scholars, laboriousness, excessive cost, and the materialist ethos in which such things acquired value. The signs o f social responsibility, on the other hand—the ceremonies and buildings o f the Latter Han emperors—were simpler and more symmetrical, clear and solemn. They were fre e o f those formal features which made it difficult to "perceive the pattern" o f more extravagant styles. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know exactly how the palace architects achieved an effect o f simplicity and grandeur, for the wooden buildings o f emperors Guangwu and Ming no longer exist. All that is left are the many engravings on shrines and tombs patronized by that class o f men who served as his supporters and advisors, the Confucian literati o f Shandong. Is it appropriate to call such engravings classical? It is obvious that in subject matter these engravings appropriate a measure o f classical authority in the same


manner as the pageantry of Emperor Min g. But what about the style of the engravings? At first sight, they appear rather crude and unsophisticated, not at all the sort of thing one would wish to call "classical." But upon closer inspection they show themselves to be surprisingly innovative and even sophisticated, although their sophistication derives more from the intelligence than from the labor that went into their making. By calling the style of the Wulaowa engravings sophisticated, I do not wish to imply that the artists of the early Jiaxiang school invented novel methods of representation at the bequest of local scholars. Quite the contrary, for revival is of the essence of Emperor Ming's classicism and only a revived style could properly be called classical. As it happens, in this case, the rudiments of the style of the early Jiaxiang school had been around for some time. Symmetry and simple elevation allowed bronze casters to make distinctions between host and guest, superior and subordinate as early as the fifth century B. C. (figs. 15,16). A ceremonial scene from Mawangdui (fig. 72) shows that this kind of pictorial organization was still in use in feudal courts of the second century B. C. By the mid-first century B. C. , however, these methods had been superseded in northern Jiangsu and Henan by what appears to be a new tradition, in which figuresare not restricted to frontaland side views but move more freelyin space. The space they move in , moreover, allows the figures to recede much farther from the picture plane than before (fig. 9). By post-Renaissance Western standards, this style is more successful at depicting movements in space than the old tradition of bronze engraving (fig. 16) or its Han descendants (fig. 7 2). If a more naturalistic style was desired, one would expect this tradition to have spread either from the capital region or northern Jiangsu to southern Shandong, which is adjacent to both and which had deep commercial, political, and culturaltieswith these areas in Han times. But this did not happen. O n the contrary, the only economically successful style of engraving in first-centuryShandong utilized the methods of the old tradition. H ow does one explain this? Working with a priori assumptions about the evolution of style, it would be difficult to explain the preferences of the Shandong literati; but given what we know of their history, their choice seems logical. The old style, after all, avoids that taint of labor and exploitation which clung to cloud and animal patterns, with their deep carving and elaborate twists and turns. For if the old patterns are like a virtuoso cadenza in which a greater effect is achieved as the number of tricky turns increases, then the early Jiaxiang style is like a melody played simply and without embellishment. This can be seen from a consideration of the carving technique and working procedures of the early Jiaxiang school. A close look at figure 80 will show that, as noted earlier, stones in the classical tradition were first covered with an even



series of vertical striations. This leveled the stone without the need for polishing and provided an even ground against which to set the figures. The figure was then drawn and its contour cut in more heavily than the vertical striations so as to stand out. There appears to have been a kind of procedural "rule" encouraging artists to avoid numerous rapid or contrasting changes in the contour except when the subject strongly demanded it. In this case, considering the figures from the neck down, Confucius's contour (on the right) changes direction noticeably only ten times (at the shoulder, rump, hem [twice], lower sleeve [three], cuff [twice], and where the sleeve occludes the upper arm); in the figure of the boy the contour changes eleven or twelve times, and in the figure of Lao zi, eleven times. Compare these to a typical figure from Nanyang whose contour, excluding the head, changes twenty times or more (fig. 86). In the terms of perceptual psychology, the simpler contour of the Shandong figures enhances their legibility by reducing their visual complexity, a property which increases in proportion to the number of times the contour changes direction. Acute angles and obvious projections from the bulk of the contour also seem to have been avoided, and this, too, has the effect of simplifying the figure, for experimentalists find that visual complexity increases also in proportion to the ratio of the perimeter to the area of a figure. Hence, attenuated shapes, such as those typical at Nanyang, are more difficult to identify and resolve than bulky shapes. We can be certain, of course, that the artists who engraved these stones knew nothing of this, but it is significant that large numbers of scholar-gentry in Shandong chose, again and again, that style which we now know favored legibility of for m . 31

After completing the contour, the artist polished the interior of the figure, but only thinly, for several of the original striations can be found in the figures, such as near Confucius's hem. Finally, he scratched in a few simple details such as the eyes and mouth. Certain parts of the clothing, such as the wide lower sleeve, the hem, collar, and cuff, were thickened and emphasized. Probably this emphasis was not accidental. In the Book of Rites it is precisely these features, along with the geometrical clarity of their design, that are emphasized as most important for appropriate expression during ceremonies: In ancient times the regulations for the ruler's ritual robe corresponded to the compasss, the square, the inked string [straightness] and the balance [levelness] in its design The sleeve was round to correspond to the compass; [the perimeter of] the collar was like a carpenter's square; a taut string was drawn from the shoulder to the ankle that [the clothing might] correspond to the vertical; the hem was adjusted like a pair of scales so as to correspond to the level. The round part came into play when bowing and saluting so as to [convey the proper] demeanor,



while the vertical line and the square parts were to [express] the straightness of the ruler's government. 32

Such passages echo Emperor Ming's apologetic literature in associating simple, geometric forms with political virtue. That the engravings of the Jiaxiang school emphasize such features of clothing and style while avoiding the complex arabesques of the ornamental tradition makes a good deal of sense. After all, what man honing his reputation for piety would fund a monument in a style marked, in that region, as extravagant? Better by far to cling to those regular, geometric, and symmetrical forms recognized in the classics and in recent court literature as consistent with classical ideals. This alone does not justify calling the early Jiaxiang style a "classical" style, however, except insofar as the absence of cues for complexity and luxury can be read as cues for simplicity and restraint. But there are stronger reasons for thinking that the very style employed in the early and later Jiaxiang schools was associated, at the time, with classical standards and ideals. It may well be that the pictorial conventions of Wulaowa are not the primitive attempts of naive provincials, but sophisticated historical references to earlier styles. In the past, at least, it has been argued that the style of engraving favored by the Shandong scholars was modeled on that of images found on bronzes of the fifth century B. C. (figs. 15,16). This is close to the period when Cbnfucius lived. Some years ago it might have seemed bold to suggest that engravings of the imperial era had been modeled on ancient bronzes, but now it would simply furnish one more instance of the revival of ancient styles which we know was practiced during Ming's reign. The imitation of classical styles was as natural for the scholar as putting on his clothing in the morning. And indeed, designs of this sort might have been present on some of the ancient vessels displayed in the reconstructed Zhou Royal College, for bum and d m vessels are mentioned in particular. The very mention of these two types as metonymy for sacrificial vessels in general is likely based upon passages in the classics like this one from the Analects: "As to such matters as attending to the sacrificial [bian and dm ] vessels, there are the proper officers for t h em ." But if these two vessel types were listed because they are mentioned in the classics, it is all the more likely that such vessels actually were included among those in the Royal College. As it happens, these vessel forms are typical of the fifth and fourth centuries B . C. , when pictorial illustrations such as that in figure 5 became common. The vessel illustrated in figure 15, in fact, is a d m vessel. Given this possibility, it is not difficult to imagine a classically clad doctor, surrounded by the ceremonial instruments of antiquity, favoring pictorial styles like those he found on ancient vessels over the elaborate designs popular among the vulgar. If so, this style would furnish the earliest example of an art historical reference in the art of China. 33

l 8



Apart from the use of classical subjects and a style with classical origins, was there anything else about the preferred styles of the literati which could be perceived as "classical"? Possibly. It is already clear that classical taste in China favored symmetrical, ordered arrangements such as one findsin Tiaxiang school engravings. In addition to this, the abbreviated, restrained manner of engraving recalls classical ideals. I am not referring, of course, to classical ideals in Europe, but in China, where the scholar's taste inclined toward the laconic. This taste expressed itself most clearly in discussions of literary fo r m . The Spring and A u t u m n Annals, the pithiest of all classics, was cherished as a model of style. The commentators never tired of admiring the author's elimination of all but the most essential facts. One entry in rhcAnnak, for instance, records that stones fell in the state of Song on the first day of a certain year and that fish hawks flew backwards during that same month. Neither of the standard commentaries assumed these were casual observations. The Gongyang commentary suggested that these events were seen as ominous and thus recorded. The Guliang commentary saw this passage as an exemplary instance of sagely editing: "Even in regard to such things and creatures the superior man records nothing rashly. H is expression about stones and fish hawks being thus exact, how much more will they be so about men? If the language had not been as it is about the five stones and fish-hawks,the royal way would not have been fully exhibited." It is as though the author had applied Aristode's requirements for art to nature. There can be nothing extraneous, nothing meaningless, in art. Therefore, whatever the sage wrote down was written down for a purpose. The same applies to nature guided by a conscious and benevolent Heaven. Fish hawks do not fly backwards unless there is some hidden purpose in it. It is this attitude which made omen-divination possible. If one admits that accidents may happen, then fish hawks blown backwards or heavy dew in the fieldsmight assume the less exalted status of natural events. O f course, nature is full of accidents, and all cannot be significant, so in practice everything "normal" receded as a backdrop of meaninglessness, whereas every departure from the Confucian norm— eclipses, earthquakes, usurpations, seductions, courageous or noble behavior— was recorded by the sage. Mundane affairs, like the winnowing of wheat or the chatter of chickens, were not. A terse style was a way of saying that personal, material, petty affairs were quite beneath one's notice. There is a clear aesthetic principle at work here which shares much with Western classicism: only things which are noble, ideal, or instructive are worthy objects of art. In the West this attitude favored more economical, reduced forms in certain classical traditions. In China a comparable standard may well have favored the extremely reduced forms of the Jiaxiang school. W ith an immaculate 34




ground, standardized figures, and simplified contours, any deviation from the expected could be detected easily and assigned appropriate significance as, for instance, in the scene of Kin g Cheng and the Duke of Zhou (fig. 21), where the duke's kneeling posture sets him apart from all others and expresses, in the terms of conventional etiquette, the meaning of the scene. There were still other advantages to terseness as an artistic ideal. Apart from signifying contempt for petty affairs, in its more extreme forms it also could render a text difficult to construe. In an ideal world this would confer little advantage upon anyone, but among H an scholars, as among some scholars today, obscurantism was readily mistaken for profundity, a ruse which the critical Wang Chong easily penetrated: Wang Chong's writings are lucid and easy to understand. (But) there are those who pretend that the words of a good debater must be profound and the compositions of the able writer obscure. The style of classic literature and the sayings of worthies and sages are grand and majestic, beautiful and refined, and difficult to grasp at first.The scholars who read them understand them only with the necessary commentaries. [They think that] the genius of the sages and worthies being so wonderful, their expressions cannot be the same as those of ordinary people [su]. Gems, they say, are concealed in stones and pearls in clams. Only gem polishers and pearl experts can find them. These things cannot be seen because they are hidden and thus substantial disquisitions must be profound and deep, and hard to fathom. [Now Wang Chong's] Censures on Morals are intended to rouse the people and so the meaning is perspicuous and the style quite plain. But [the critics will say] why must the L u n Heng be like this too? Is the talent of the author so shallow that it was absolutely impossible to bide anything? 36

A terse style rendered a work obscure and therefore profound, unusual and therefore wonderful, refined and therefore classical. Certainly there was much in the style of the Jiaxiang school that the Confucian scholar could love. The artists' clean, geometric contours, sometimes drawn with compass and square, eliminated most personal information about a figure. Neither the fat of a man's paunch or the weight of a woman's coiffure could pass their stylistic filter. They removed trivial details such as how the cloth might have fallen at a particular moment. They rendered the whiskers of men impartially, the same few lines for each of them. They portrayed the sages at a level of precision and refinement that placed them above the crinkles and imperfections of ordinary men, with straight lines and curves finely and evenly cut but a millimeter deep into the smooth stone (figs. 22, 83).



There is reason to suspect that this style of engraving was recognized as consistent with classical standards of decorum and taste. At least An Guo's inscription describing the scenes engraved on his shrine suggests this may have been so. When the text gets around to the engravings of Confucian sages and worthies, it employs adjectives similar to those applied to the architecture and ceremonies of the Latter Han: [The famous artists Wang Shu, Wang Jian and Jiang H u from Gaoping] engraved the inscription and carved the pictures. [There are] intertwined dragons and coiling serpents; the fierce tiger is on the prowl; the lion and the bear roar and play. All the birds flock together while the myriad beasts spread about like billowing clouds. We see row upon row of towers and pavilions both large and small; we hear the tumult of many carriages. Above are the carvings of clouds with immortals; below are the filial, the worthy and the humane. The eminent are dignified in appearance; their followers solemnly attend them. Stately and patient, their countenance is pleasant. 37

These are just the sorts of adjectives attributed to Ming's ceremonies and architectural projects in apologetic literature. Compare: 'Th e ceremony, solemn and serious, is consummately performed; The rites,majestic and stately, are fully observed." From the context it is evident that the terms in An Guo's inscription apply not only to the imaginary subject (the figures depicted) but to the imaginaryfiguresas engraved on the shrine. Since An Guo's shrine was a product of the later Jiaxiang school of engraving, it may be inferred that this style of engraving was regarded as adequate and appropriate for expressing "classical" qualities such as solemnity and dignity. In short, there is every reason to believe that both the subject matter and style found on monuments commissioned by the Shandong literati were conceived, at the time, as in keeping with classical standards and values. 38



in the Classical


What distinguishes these engravings from the art of the ornamental tradition? Does it reflect just a local shift in taste, or does it mark a genuine transformation? Previous studies have made much of the fact that the engravings found in Shandong are far more figurative than Former Han designs and that the figures more often represent real or historical protagonists instead of spirits. This is largely true, though less so than was once supposed if we take into


account the Mawangdui silk paintings. But I suspect that this is just the frosting on the cake. More significant is the fact that the new body of classical subject matter, the abandonment of stylistic cues for luxury, and the revival of an older style together signal a change in the way a work of art authorizes its message. The stones of Nanyang make a point about the exercise of wealth. It is the same point made by lavishly carved beams and walls in the homes of the rich. The authority for that message derives from the physical manipulation of the material; the sheer labor and skill that went into the work argues for a certain command of material resources. The stones at Wulaowa derive their authority, not from the ingenious manipulation of substance (for those kinds of cues are not conspicuous here), but from an intelligent use of pictorial imagery made possible by the revival of an older style. Where substance allows only one kind of claim to be made ("This person is rich"), imagery allows a variety of more specific claims to be made and justified. It allows art to appropriate to itself many capabilities of the written word. This concern with the making of propositions puts the classical tradition in a class by itself among the various styles of art in early China. It is easy to understand how classical imagery differs from that of the ornamental tradition. What is less obvious is the way in which different modes of authorization are encoded into the styles of the two traditions. At Nanyang, the mtertwining patterns associated with richness and luxury form the basis for the general composition as well as the disposition of individualfigures(figs. 2426). The limbs of each movingfigure follow brachiate curves whose trajectories echo or flow into those of other shapes around them. The method of organization is dendritic, binding together all forms in a long, reticulate, fibrous structure of undulating, "dovetailing traceries." It is part of the charm of this style that it enables the artist to fill his design with surprises, for from any distance at all the individual parts will coalesce into a single rhythm, only to reemerge in consciousness under scrutiny like familiar faces in a crowd. But this means that individual items depicted seem fluid and inconstant both as to position and identity. Like the buildings of Emperor Gaozu, "there [is] no way to perceive their pattern." This is important. Such a style has inherent strengths and limitations. It seems most appropriate for portraying the elusive world of flight and fancy that is the immortal's paradise. But for other kinds of jobs, such as the rendering of state ceremonies, one can imagine it might have shortcomings. How, for instance, could an artist effectively distinguish the different ranks and functions of participants in a ceremony if the structure of his style encourages the dissolution of identities? H ow should the artist set up a compositional standard against which to measure the ranks of individuals when all parts of the composition can be equally important?



At Wulaowa these problems were solved by adopting a pictorial structure which is laminated rather than dendritic; additive rather than integrative; like latticework rather than lacing. Groups of figures are set against a common ground within a well-defined format. Within this format they are organized like schoolchildren into rows (figs. 88, 89). To each row there is a beginning and an end, a center and a periphery. It is pictorial properties such as these that make this style well suited to illustration of social intercourse and, consequendy, classical propositions about proper or improper social behavior. Consider, for example, the illustrations of the grand administrator's exploits (fig. 89). In the top illustration, violence is represented by introducing a single diagonal shape—the roof—where a horizontal one should be. This simple device recalls the very habits of Confucian rhetoric, where straight (as in En glish) means proper while diagonal means perverse. At Nanyang, however, every other line is diagonal. There, in the absence of evidence for Confucian standards and norms, one suspects that diagonals enhanced the look of profusion in the design and, hence, were viewed positively. At Wulaowa the diagonal seems to represent just what it would in the context of language; it is virtually a diagram for an anomaly: violence. A simple diagonal can say so much only because the rest of this composition, in tandem with the other registers, establishes a state of regular horizontals and verticals as normative. The second scene likewise exploits diagonals to convey a sense of activity or nonrepose. In this register, the irregular positions of the figures, with their complex contours, enhance the effect. Unlike figures in the ornamental tradition, their movements are not united by a common set of undulating trajectories and, as a consequence, their collective motion appears more chaotic, despite the repetition of a few basic types among them. Such dispositions are rare in the early Jiaxiang school, except for scenes involving a great deal of indecorous activity, such as hunting or warfare scenes. In this set of reliefs, as in Confucian behavioral ideals, an attitude of repose, rather than one of violence, is a sign of power. The importance of repose and its formal cognates becomes apparent in the next scene down, where the grand administrator faces one of his prisoners. The composition tends toward symmetry, a device that allows the artist to compare and face off his two main protagonists. O n the viewer's right, the grand administrator sits, a social sign of repose, while his bodyguard stands quiedy even while representing the physical force that backs up his authority. Could a scholar fail to see in this the Confucian ideal of ruling through decorum rather than force? At the very least it recalls the point of the topmost scene, where a man's superiority is manifest by maintaining composure in the midst of violence. Other signs mark the grand administrator as a superior man. H e possesses



more bulk,for instance, than any other figure.The bodyguard is of more slender build, but is still taller than the figureson the left. The superiority of both figures is evident again, in their state of repose expressed, not only by posture, but on a formal level by a simplified contour which admits a minimum of changes in direction. It is this same device that signifies integrity in the topmost register, where we might say that the two figures maintain their contour in the face of violence, a stiff, upright frame standing in defiance of a force that can move only the hem of a gown. The symmetry of the composition allowed the artist to convey its primary message as clearly as in a diagram, for it set up an implicit comparison between the right and left halves of the composition. Contrasting with the bulk and repose of the grand administrator and his guard are the relatively diminutive size and activity of the warrior and his prisoner on the left. Their contours are complicated by the limbs and weapons jutting out and, in the case of the prisoner, by the awkward position of the arms behind his back. This is a simple sign of subordination, just as the grand administrator's posture is a simple social sign of superior station. These social signs are echoed in the formal contrast of activity and repose, the products of battle and the steadfastness of justice which the symmetrical composition makes evident. The artist at Wulaowa made further use of symmetry by allowing the figure in the center, a subordinate officer, to mediate between the two sides. His body faces neither his superior nor the prisoner but the viewer. H e regards the grand administrator direcdy, however, while extending his hand to point to the prisoner. This simultaneously shows his respect'for his superior, reveals his disdain for the prisoner (he points without looking at him), and emphasizes the point of the scene, as though to say, "Here, sir, are the defeated bandits." But if the center is so important, why does the grand administrator not occupy the center of the composition? In some engravings of the early Jiaxiang school the main protagonist does occupy the center, as, for example, in the illustration of Kin g Cheng and the Duke of Zhou (see chapter 7; fig. 91). In others, however, the status of the most important personage is indicated by lining up a row offiguresin front of the major character. This creates, in effect, a procession of figures leading to the most important person, who often sits or stands at the end of a row, facing the row, with only one guard behind him. In this type of composition, the center does not mark the most important person, but it is important nonetheless, for the same narrow, well-defined, rectangular format that enables the artist to define the center allows him to fixdirectionality or, for that matter, to measure clearly the relative height of each figure. Such devices are common in both early and late Jiaxiang school works. Another example is found in the bottom register of the same stone. These are the formal


correlates of social norms defining the position subordinates take in relation to a superior, or the degree to which one stands tall or bent in different social circumstances. In such a pictorial scheme, a state of clarity and simplicity can stand for what is "balanced and orderly," that is, socially normative. Having done this, any artist may represent violence and departure from the norm with diagonals and more complicated shapes, uniting form and meaning as in a Saul Steinberg cartoon. The clear distinction between figure and ground allows the artist to make a moral statement with the very contour of a shape—simple and straight or elusive and crooked—just as he can make a similar statement with the roof of a house. Finally, with his narrow registers, he can express precisely the relative height of individuals, indicating to what degree they stand tall, bow down, or sit at ease—social signs of status or subordination. It is only because such social relations can be delineated that the artist is able to pictorialize propositions about the superior virtue of the grand administrator, the proper behavior of his staff, or the violent threats of rebels or storms.



of the Classical


The classical revival of emperors Guangwu and Min g was first and foremost part of a new strategy of statecraft employing new standards of legitimation. Classicism was, in essence, a critical tool because it was dialectical. It permitted the early Latter Han emperors to promote their regime by critiquing that of the recent past. This critique was achieved by comparing the recent past to a more ideal classical past against which the government of Guangwu and Min g compared favorably. Guangwu and Min g did not invent this system of legitimation. Confucian scholars had long been accustomed to arguing from history in support of their goals. Unable to rely upon noble birth or vast reserves of wealth, they typically measured present policy against history, personal achievements or the theory of causes and effects believed to operate between Heaven and Earth. The old tradition of pictorial art found on classical bronzes possessed at least three formal characteristics well suited to the making of comparisons. The first of these derives from the fact that the style seems to be the formal opposite of the ornamental tradition, which remained popular in most regions of China throughout the H an . One style is curvilinear, the other rectilinear; one style favors diagonals, the other horizontals and verticals; one style is profuse, the other spare; one style fusesfigure and ground, the other separates the two; one style tends to blend a variety of shapes in a maze of conforming trajectories, the


other tends to separate them in abrupt, staccato rhythms. These contrasts mimicked those common in the arguments of the salt and iron debates or the apologetic literature of the court. No scholar could help but view the classical style in contrast to the more popular style. There are two other ways in which the art of the early Jiaxiang school favors comparisons. As explained above, the use of symmetry in the classical tradition allows comparisons between the images placed on the two sides of the composition. In addition, the use of registers permits one to compare two kinds of situations by placing them next to each other in a vertical column. The effect of this is much like that of parallel prose so important in the verbal rhetoric of Han Confucians (see chapter 6). We have seen one instance of this in the use of the storm image in conjunction with the grand administrator's victory over the bandits (fig. 89). The use of registers in that stone invites us to compare the achievements of the deceased with the ideals of the classics. All of these formal characteristics are inherent in the old bronzes even if the ancient artists did not exploit them. In addition to these, the artists of Latter Han Shandong seem to have developed a few more features consistent with the polemical use of pictorial art. Among these, a device easily overlooked is personification. The wind god and the god of thunder (figs. 77, 89, 90), for example, are represented in human form. This is a startling innovation for the period. In Former H an art, nature deities are depicted with "natural" attributes, usually those of animals. It has been argued, for example, that the wind deity is represented in Former Han art in the shape of the mythical fei lion, a winged creature bearing no resemblance at all to a human being. Thunder was traditionally represented by cloud patterns or dragons, not by an anthropomorphic deity, and the forces of Yin and Yang are represented only as dragon and tiger in Former Han times, whereas in the Latter Han they appear also as the sages Fu Xi and N ii Wa (see chapter 7). This personification of natural forces in art is the pictorial correlate of the bureaucratization of the cosmos achieved in the popular theories of Dong Zhongshu. By Latter Han times,Dong's theories and others like them enjoyed great popularity among local scholars (see chapter 9). Since heavenly forces were believed to be controlled by spiritual bureaucrats, they should be represented that way. But to say this is not enough. Whether we speak of Dong Zhongsu or of the artists at Wulaowa, the advantage of personification, from a Confucian standpoint, is the same. It allows one to project the conventions of society onto the cosmos. Hence, the spirits of Latter H an Shandong appear larger or smaller in proportion to their social standing within the heavenly hierarchy (figs. 77, 89). They stand in front or behind, depending upon their rank. Individualfigurescan adopt a posture of dignity or submission in keeping



with their social functions. The pictorial device of personification enabled the artist to achieve much the same effects as the village scholar with his "lowcrooked curtsies and mincing steps." Finally, the laminated structure of the classical tradition enabled artists to mimic a certain logical relation central to Confucian polemical strategies, namely, cause and effect. At Wulaowa and related monuments, the force of wind (cause) topples a roof (consequence), while transgressing the law (cause) leads to capture and punishment (consequence). In the theory of omens, humane policies on the part of the government (cause) incite the appearance of auspicious omens (effect—see chapter 6). Such ideas are inexpressible in the ornamental tradition because there we find no set reference for directionality either in space or in time. Spirits chase and dodge eternally in a world without figure or ground, without heaven or earth, and without causes or consequences. Within the spatial conventions at Wulaowa, all the important kinds of human relations and exigencies can be portrayed.


of the Classical


The discovery of the pictorial conventions of classical bronzes may have been a lucky accident, but the popularity of that tradition and its successors among so many scholar-gentry of Latter Han Shandong cannot have been the product of random selection. The revival of an ancient style, like the revival of classical institutions, made it possible for middle-income scholars of common birth to utilize art in a new way to further their own ends. Consider only that, for a millennium and a half prior to the first century A. D . , the fine art of China had been exclusively an art of royalty. During that time the style of decoration on court and ceremonial implements had undergone coundess variations in style, but all these variations were based on a common principle, the principle of quantity. Ceremonial implements can be more numerous, more massive, more polished, more intricate, or made of more precious materials, but they are always "more" in a distincdy material sense. An d so this exquisite art flourished in China at a time when spiritual power, political authority, social status, and material wealth were much the same thing. By the first century A . D . all this had changed. Under Emperor Min g, wealth, political status, and social worth were no longer interchangeable. Institutions had been established through which men of nonaristocratic lineage, and even men of lower income status, could come to hold political authority. It was a time when the classics could be learned even in village schools, so that we read of swineherds and kitchen boys becoming ranking officials. It was a time when



secular history, as opposed to mythology,formed the basis of political discourse. Most importandy, it was a time when ordinary citizens regularly expressed opinions about affairs of state in social gatherings or in published essays (see chapter 6). It was a time when the new standard of social worth promoted by the literati achieved official recognition. From this perspective, whether we consider the projects of Emperor Min g or the shrines of the Shandong literati, the "classicism" of the first and second centuries A . D . marks a major watershed in the history of Chinese art and civilization. For the first time, under Emperor Min g, the naked display of wealth began to give way to the display of knowledge as a sign of social worth. An entirely new system for encoding human values in art had been discovered, a system based upon historical imagery rather than expressions of quantity signifying spiritual power or wealth. Now, for the first time, signs of opulence acquired a negative social value among the literati, while stylistic cues for frugality acquired positive social value. But the new signs for frugality were not the same as the old condition of poverty and coarseness. Instead, a condition one might call "refined plainness" enters the aesthetic universe as a novel feature. This refined plainness is of the essence of classical taste in Han China and is perhaps best summed up in literary descriptions of Emperor Ming's architecture. It was, we are told, an art which "extravagance could not surpass, but which frugality could not fault"; and "though lavish, it was not extravagant; though frugal, it was not crude." Having liberated the idea of refinement from complexity of form, it was an easy thing for Ming's apologists to compare the simplicity and symmetry of his architecture to the sleazy sophistication of his predecessors' palaces. In this context the social significance of symmetry or simplicity is the absence of aristocratic extravagance and, hence, the assertion of social responsibility and political legitimacy. An d so, if the coarseness of village pottery was the ground against which the beauty of the old art shined, then it was the technical sophistication of that older art which gave dignity to the classical engraving. For the first time, the meaning of a style of art derived from a historical contrast, a contrast not with poverty, but with a previously existing style of art. The art of the Shandong literati was both historical and dialectical in nature. If we apply the term classicism in this way to early China, we must find its essence in a secular, historical thrust, subject matter based on the classics, association with moral ideals beneficial to the empire, and the introduction of a new aesthetic based on an ideal of refined plainness. Above all it was characterized in politics, literature, and art by its comparative and dialectical potential. This potential gave pictorial art an ever more active role in the political agenda of the Confucian scholars during the first and second centuries A . D .





as A r g u m e n t s


^ othing sets the art of the Latter Han apart from that of preHan times so much as its capacity for persuasion and criticism. This chapter will address a number of themes that are best understood as arguments. Among these are some of the most common motifs in the art of northeast China: stories of Kin g Cheng and the Duke of Zh ou, the failure of the First Emperor of Q in , Confucius, and assorted classical sages. Most of these themes have been identified and discussed in previous scholarship, but their significance has not been fully savored. In order to set the stage for an appreciation of these themes, it will be necessary to explore the importance of classical rhetoric for Han scholars and the issue of political participation in government. One of the new features of Han society was the existence of political factions representing members of different classes and interest groups. In his essay on political factions, Hans Bielenstein described the general nature of Han society this way: The main dividing line in Han China was between rulers and ruled, between the educated gentry from which the officials were drawn and the peasant who could not read and write. The ruling class, however, was neither closed nor unchanging. The Han was a fairly open society. Some clans managed to remain influential over a long period, but the majority did not. Consort families [the families of the empresses] gained spectacular power for limited periods; yet when their downfall iSS




came, it was swift. Great gentry clans, always relatively few, owned large tracts of land, and were socially and at times politically important on the national level. The clans of the lesser gentry, which merged at its lower levels with the rich peasantry, were not as wealthy and prominent, but wielded considerable local power and had the resources to educate sons and supply officials. And the boundaries between all categories were illdefined and could be crossed. 1

The Wu family, the An family, and coundess other patrons of local funerary monuments belonged to the lesser gentry. The best way for them to cross the boundary between peasant and lesser gentry, or between lesser gentry and great gentry, was by acquiring a reputation for learning, piety, and other desirable virtues. This is why, as we saw in the previous chapter, they benefited from an art capable of arguing for their accomplishments rather than merely declaring their material comfort. The distinction between the declarations of wealth characteristic of the ornamental tradition and attempts at persuasion possible in the classical tradition was the product of the difference between the rigid society of Zhou China and the more liberal system of the Han. For persuasion, as noted by Kenneth Burke, "invoices choice, will; it is directed to a man only insofar as he is freer To the extent to which men "must do something, rhetoric is unnecessary, its work being done by the nature of things, though often these necessities are not of natural origin, but come from necessities imposed by man-made conditions." Whatever issue cannot be resolved by appeal to argument is not rhetorical in nature. Whether An Guo should have been appointed a clerk was a rhetorical issue—local notables could argue for or against it. Whether he should die of the plague was n ot . O f course, one might contend that ceremonial vessels were, in fact, arguments for the status of the nobility. When people saw that a man possessed these things, were they not convinced that he was nobler One could say this, but it would lead to an unfortunate confusion of two very distinct historical phenomena: justifications for political power and genuine arguments about political power. This distinction, in a nutshell, is equivalent to that between unilateral and bilateral or personal and public. The message of the bronzes was unilateral. No one outside of the highest social circles could even imagine arguing against these declarations on roughly equal terms. This was so not merely because no social group other than the hereditary nobility was entided to engage in political discourse; it was so more fundamentally because the sources of justification for the nobleman's status were beyond appeal or beyond verification. A nobleman claimed special status because he was a descendant of a nobleman; this fact was 2



unalterable. H e claimed special status because natural disasters threatened the population if he failed to perform his sacrifices; this was unverifiable. H e claimed special status because those who opposed him would be extinguished by fire or sword; this was beyond appeal. His "arguments," if we choose to call them such, were the equivalent of ad verecundiam and ad hominem arguments. They derived from the personal attributes or possessions of the nobleman. They were not arguments at all because they were beyond negotiation. In this respect the declarations of ceremonial bronzes were, rhetorically speaking, quite primitive, only two steps removed from the snarls and threat displays of our remote ancestors (two steps because no direct evidence of force, such as teeth or a flayed scalp, is employed. The bronze testifies to the exercise of authority but the threat of force is only implied). This is not to say that Han society wasfree and democratic. But perhaps an art form rhetorical in nature did not evolve under the social system of pre-Han China because those who commissioned high art at that time had no wish to change the status quo. The nobleman's polished beams and embroidered clothing were not arguments supporting his qualification for office. They were merely declarations of rank. His status could not be changed legally through the exercise of argument. The scholar's status could, however, because in Han China there was a literate public open to persuasion, a public with the power to change political reality through participation in government and even by means of political criticism. The very existence of this public was a consequence of a higher degree of social mobility under the empire. As Cho-yiin H su put it: "the entire government, from the central court to the local organs at the county level, was overwheJjriingly dominated by recommendees who advanced along a meticulously designed course to become the prominent local elites in government. The intellectuals therefore monopolized the machinery of governance and thereby shared political power with the emperor." Taking this into account, we are inclined to believe that the social mobility permitted under the empire was a precondition for the development of a non-aristocratic discourse and, as part of that discourse, a tradition of art adaptable to rhetorical ends. But social mobility was not enough. Rhetoric, after all, alters reality by persuading a population, the "public," to behave cooperatively in a certain way. This can be accomplished only by appealing to a body of "common knowledge" which most members of the public regard as self-evident. A work of art persuades members of the public in exactiy the same way, except that it invokes and manipulates this body of common knowledge through the use of imagery and style. From this it appears that at least three conditions were necessary for the emergence of an art form adapted to rhetorical purposes in China: (i) a degree 3



of social mobility permitting those without noble status or extraordinary wealth some access to political power; (2) a body of common knowledge including assertions about human relations (for example, the nature of legitimate political power or the distribution of wealth) perceived as self-evident by the public; and (3) a tradition of imagery capable of calling these assertions into consciousness on sight. Much of the engraving of Latter Han Shandong consists of just such imagery. The key to this imagery is that special body of common knowledge and the public that regards it as self-evident. It is this which makes it possible for rhetoric, visual or verbal, to alter the actions of men. The pageantry of Emperor Min g provides a good example of the kinds of assertions regarded as self-evident in the capital and among high-ranking statesmen and famous scholars: legitimate rulers are supported by Heaven; they do not exploit the people; they promote education; they honor the aged; they are frugal and solemn; and so on. These are all classical Cbnfucian positions widely accepted and sanctioned by precedent. The classical Confucian books—t he Book of History, the Book of Songs, the Analects, even the Book of Rites—concern themselves for the most part with such questions of political legitimacy and social relations. From this one can appreciate that the messages of classical Han engravings were not merely justifications but true arguments that made an appeal to publicly recognized justifications. These messages were bilateral because (with the partial exception of the emperor) both high elites and local elites of lower social status had access to the same sources of justification. As illustrated in the engravings to be discussed in this chapter and chapter 7, these sources of justification were three: 1. Facts of recent history, such as the career achievements of the grand administrator. These facts differ from the personal attributes of the nobility (such as wealth, birth, or military might) because they refer to a man's public achievements (not his personal attributes) and because they could be verified by the testimony of peers or by appeal to bureaucratic records. 2. Historical precedent recorded in the classics. Argument by history was open to appeal by reason. The argument generally proceeded by analogy: "Under such-and-such circumstances, such-and-such consequences occurred before and we can expect the same to happen today," a form of persuasion encountered often in the salt and iron debates. Opponents could argue against such a position (as Wang Chong frequendy does) by claiming that a true analogy does not hold. Persons of all classes could, theoretically, utilize this method of argument, and anyone could oppose it by appeal to reason. If the family of the grand administrator suggested that he remained steadfast in the midst of danger, as the classics say a man should, someone else could argue either that

I J2



he did not do so or that the analogy was a poor one. This system differs from the justifications of the old nobility because there is an external source of justification to which both sides can appeal—history. 3. Appeal to natural events interpreted as omens. This mode of argument bears a suspicious resemblance to the religious threats of feudal times: "If I cannot perform my sacrifices, Heaven will punish you with drought"; "if the officials try to fleece their subordinates, tigers will appear in the district." The family resemblance, to a certain degree, is genuine. The appearance of auspicious omens after all, like the threat of drought, is difficult to verify. Still, there are some important differences between the threats of the old kings and the rhetoric of omens, for although the basis of argument often lacked substance (who can produce a phoenix for inspection?), the form of argument showed advances over the old appeals to natural forces. The rhetoric of omens, for instance, could be utilized equally by the sovereign and his subjects. True, the sovereign had the propaganda power of the empire at his disposal, but antigovernment omens—such as earthquakes—were easier to verify than progovernment ones and generally were witnessed by a larger number of citizens. Moreover, when both sides agreed that an omen occurred, the interpretation of omens was open to debate by appeal to "history" in the form of classical references to similar events. The rules of argument here would be similar to those of any other historical argument. Such arguments, in H an times, differed from modern critical history in that the verity of written sources was rarely challenged and the rules of logical inference were not so stricdy enforced. But if we recognize that Han scholars regarded their histories as records of actual occurrences, then it is clear that their method of argument was essentially empirical—it appealed to evidence which could be verified independent of the personal properties of any individual. A little reflection shows that the mode of discourse presupposed by the two traditions of art is intimately related to a particular kind of social system. The ornamental tradition encodes information about the personal attributes of the owner and declares them to be so but does not consider what should be or what might be. Its primary social reference is the owner and his material condition, a condition which it declares to be the status quo. Such an art can be figurative if that kind of personal information is required, but need not be figurative because much information about a man's material condition can be expressed through the manipulation of material itself. The classical tradition encodes arguments based upon events from the public life of the deceased, the laws of nature as then understood, and the collective history of the empire. It requires a social system in which people without rank or special status nonetheless can hold political opinions, for the




primary social reference of such art is the public whose opinion is to be affected. Such an art must be figurative if it is to appeal to independendy verifiable sources of justification (public achievements, history, or nature). Consequendy, cues for material success should play second fiddle to imagery in classical art. Moreover, because the sources of justification in classical art are not personalistic, the use of this art is not limited to one class of individuals but can be utilized by various groups. Finally, classical art must have the capacity to make comparisons in order to argue from facts or from history. The use of registers and symmetry at Wulaowa may be considered solutions to this very need. Formal features such as these made it possible for H an art in the classical tradition to deal with what ought to be and not merely with what is.

H u m a n Rights

and Classical


Later in this chapter we shall see that many of the most common themes in the art of northeast China address issues of political expression and criticism. The idea that the scholars of ancient China were at all concerned with political expression is, however, at variance with received opinion concerning Latter Han scholars and their engravings, and therefore requires some discussion. For decades, the art of the Shandong scholars has been characterized as conservative and orthodox. It must be granted that the tendency toward geometric form, the mechanical repetition of figure types, and the penchant for political and moral themes fit easily into theories about pictorial analogues for rigid social systems, not to mention traditions about despotic Orientals and hydraulic societies. The not-too-distant memory of those genuinely rigid Confucians of the late Q in g empire has contributed, no doubt, to the stereotype. But it is often a mistake to view historical epochs retrospectively. What would happen to our view of Thomas Jefferson's political ideas if he were judged by current standards of justice? There was no place in his system for women's suffrage or black suffrage, and no hint of a Miranda provision. One does not generally discuss the absence of these features in Jefferson's writings because one contrasts his ideals with the institutions that existed before his time. From this perspective, most would concede that the institutions he promoted permitted greater liberty than those under which he grew to manhood. I am afraid we shall have to accord a similar courtesy to our "orthodox" Confucians, for the social order constructed under their guidance granted individuals greater scope in life than the more stricdy hereditary system they sought to replace, and the art they fostered was a more effective tool of criticism than that they opposed. The "liberal" political attitude of the scholars is especially clear in their




championship of new kinds of social distinctions that did not exist under the old order. Only when we understand these distinctions will we be able to comprehend the import of some of the most common iconographic themes in the classical tradition. These distinctions, like the iconography of the classical tradition, were fostered by those same political exigencies that most concerned the Confucian scholars of Shandong. At the beginning of the H an dynasty, most citizens thought of wealth and social status very much as a piece. Before long, however, this supposition came under criticism, as we saw in chapter 2. As early as the late second century B . C. , writers began to devote entire essays to the proposition that any man can improve his status through education and hard work. In other words, social merit and financial security were set apart as distinct entities: "We see many people in districts with unproductive land strive after perfection. But the people of districts with productive land [where life is easier] have few attainments because of their love of ease. From this we may learn that sophisticated men who refuse to exert themselves are not equal to simple men who strive after learning. . . . Renown can be won by effort; merit can be gained by struggle." It is probably no accident that these words were written not long after the establishment of the recommendation and school systems, for these institutions made possible the rise of the scholar-officials as a group. The distinction between richness and social status was, however, only one strain in a great fugue whose main theme was the separation of personal concerns from public interests. This theme can be recognized in the replacement of feudal payments with public taxes and is also embodied in the idea of public relief, as opposed to private charity. By far the most important distinction of this kind, however, was that between the private interests of the emperor and the public interests of the empire. Only part of a theory of statecraft at first,this distinction was given institutional force by means of a fiscalsystem under which the private expenses of the court were covered by special levies on natural resources while citizens' taxes were applied solely to public functions aclministered by the bureaucracy. In the same spirit, recruitment and promotions within the bureaucracy were largely in the hands of the scholar-bureaucrats themselves. The scholars were particularly dedicated to maintaining this distinction, for that social mobility which made possible the rise of their class could not persist without it. It is easy to see how distinctions between wealth and social status, feudal payments and public taxes, private charity and public welfare, or the concerns of emperor versus the concerns of empire would tend to extend the scope of life for ordinary citizens rather than restrict it. But the traditional society had bequeathed a number of cUscriminations of its own to the citizens of the Han . 4





These the "orthodox" Confucian scholars consistendy sought to blur. It is clear, for example, that throughout the dynasty the distinction between nobleman and commoner became very much muddied in several respects. This was so in part because of the several ways in which commoners could acquire noble rank, but more importandy it was so because more and more prerogatives formerly accessible to the nobility alone fell within reach of ordinary citizens. One of these prerogatives was the right to bear a surname. Under the imperial system, a commoner could bear his own surname because his legal identity was no longer subsumed under that of his lord. H e could stand alone as a tax-paying citizen of a higher social unit, the empire. This achievement is probably to be credited to the legalists, the forefathers of the economists who represented the government in the salt and iron debates. But the Confucians also sought to extend to ordinary citizens other privileges formerly monopolized by the rich and noble. A major privilege of this sort was that of access to education, a form of power entitling lower-ranking citizens to higher-status privileges. Another basic privilege, not to be taken for granted, was the recognition of the value of an ordinary man's life. In Shang times the practice of human sacrifice suggests that the lives of ordinary people were considered insignificant compared with those of the nobility. Human sacrifice as a practice began to decline after the end of the Shang dynasty (tenth century B. C. ) and, beginning with Confucius, we find ever more intellectuals championing the value of human life. But it is really only in Han times, in particular under those emperors devoted to Confucianism, that these values assumed distinct institutional form. The new spirit can be detected clearly in the area of criminal law. During the reign of Emperor Min g (A.D . 58-76), a rule was instituted whereby criminals assigned heavy punishments were to have their sentences postponed until winter, at which time prior consent had to be obtained before punishment could be meted out. This procedure, according to one statesman, "showed that men's lives were regarded as important." Such rules are not casually instituted. Wherever judicial decisions are made by theocrats, demagogues, or charismatic leaders, no such system of checks is deemed necessary. As modern-day evangelists continually remind us, there is no room for debate when you are dealing with God. Hence the true significance of this institution lies in its recognition of the fallibility of the imperial judicial process. The system of amnesties was predicated on this same insight, as was the remarkable practice whereby local intellectuals were appointed to review official records for infringements of justice. The very practice of rhetorical discourse that flourished among the Shandong scholars would have been impossible without official recognition of the fallibility of those empowered to rule. 7






It was within this tradition of political liberalization that Wang Mang (reignedA.D. 9-25) attempted to free the slaves. It would be difficult to conceive a more radical idea for the ancient world. This declaration of the sacred worth of human volition predates the earliest European attempt by seventeen centuries! As in seventeenth-century Europe, Wang Mang's effort did not succeed, but the idea that even slaves merit a measure of human dignity persisted in an edict of Guangwu dated A . D . 3 5: "It is the nature of Heaven and Earth that mankind is noble. Those who kill male or female slaves shall not have their punishment reduced." The term noble (gui) in this passage is expressed with the same character that previously denoted the hereditary nobility and, later, the rich. Mencius had anticipated this use of g u i when he said, "All men have within themselves that which is noble. [Hence] the nobility which men confer is not the best nobility. Those whom Zhao the Great ennobles he can make mean again ." But for both Mencius and his master the term g u i generally meant men of noble rank, and even in this passage it is not at all clear what social spectrum of men Mencius felt possessed internal nobility. Certainly he meant to include many who were not of noble rank, but would he have extended the compliment to slaves? In Guangwu's edict the term applies expliciuy to all men and women, even slaves. More significant still, the term has legal force, legitimizing the right to justice which men and women of all classes command by virtue of a nobility inherent in the human condition. These acts by emperors Wang Man g, Guangwu, and Min g were institutional realizations of principles developed from values articulated in the Confucian classics and championed by those "orthodox" Confucian scholars of the Han. Today, those who promote merciful judicial policies and citizen review of government are generally called "liberal," although sinologists tend to type the scholars, and their art, as conservative. Yet we cannot begin to understand the iconographic preferences of the scholars without recognizing that the primary exigence of their time was the issue of human dignity. Nowhere is this more evident than in reference to the question of the political participation of commoners. 10






O f all the traditional boundaries the scholars tried to blur, the most important was that separating those who governed from those who were governed. It was a question of legitimacy. Who had the right to rule, and what were the rights of the ruled? In the answer to these questions hung the fate of rhetorical discourse, for there can be no rhetoric where citizens are not free to form political opinions.




Confucius had raised the issue in classical times. "No," we can imagine him saying, "the people have no right to kill a king; the king's right to rule is granted by Heaven." But, he would add, "a tyrant is not a king." This is the Confucian escape clause. If a king conducts himself as a tyrant, the people are free to depose him. Indeed, under these circumstances, the people by their actions, are the very embodiment of the will of Heaven. This is the Mandate of Heaven theory. A central part of the Confucian classics, the concept did not mature in Han times until the late first century B . C. Thereafter, however, it remained the foundation of Confucian political thought throughout h ist ory. Implicit in the theory is the thought that those who are ruled have a right to hold opinions regarding the justness of the king's rule, but this idea was slow to develop. Mencius defended the independent value of knowledge and integrity as opposed to rank, but even he could not imagine that a man without office should hold political views: "When one is in a low situation, to speak of high [that is, official] matters is a crim e." Even as late as the time of the salt and iron debates, the right of the educated public to express itself politically was still a rather novel idea, and the use of rhetoric to stir public opinion was perceived as inherendy perverse: "The scholars are capable of speech, but incapable of action. They occupy a low position, yet blame their superiors. They remain poor, while criticizing the r ich ." Once again, we see the power of money in direct competition with the power of the word. The voice of the educated public was dangerous because it was the most effective method for lower social groups to maintain their own interests against those of the rich and powerful. That provincial attempts to influence public opinion were something of a novelty to court officers is evident from attacks on the legitimacy of the practice: 12



When the ancients set as standard the Well-tithe System ... none but the artisan and merchant was allowed to live on the increment of his capital, none but the sturdy husbandmen to enjoy the fruit of his crops, none but those actually in control of administration to taste the corollaries of office and rank. But here we have now "Confucians by profession" who, having laid aside plow and share, concentrate on learning to discourse on matters unproven and unprovable, wasting day after day and consuming valuable time, without contributing in the least to actual working problem s. 15

Who, indeed, were these men who, without official tide or substantial wealth, dared to speak out on matters of government? What hybrid class of men was this which was neither ruler nor ruled, but a bit of both? Small wonder that court officers of the first century B . C. failed to take the idea seriously. Political dissent, of course, was not itself an invention of the H an dynasty. Confucian scholars had raised their voices once before against the First Emperor




of Qin, and as a consequence the tradition already had its roster of martyrs. This little slice of history was very much on the minds of those participating in the debates, and the vast gulf separating the views of the economists from those of the scholars shows itself most clearly in those passages concerning this famous autocrat. To the scholars he was history's quintessential tyrant: a wicked ruler who extracted the wealth of the people while repressing the voices of dissent. Then it was that we saw the ancient arts abolished and the time-honored ceremonies fall, all reliance put into penal laws and the Confucian and Mohist doctrines passing completely into obscurity. Blocked was the path of the scholar and gagged the mouths of m e n . 16

Not satisfied with the already exacting and numerous taxes and levies, he established abroad prohibitions on the resources of nature and set up a hundredfold profit in the interior, while the people had no means to express their o p in io n . 17

To the economists, on the other hand, the First Emperor was something of a hero. Indeed, they speak of him with an admiration approaching nostalgia: It fell to the First Emperor to do away by fire with their [Confucian] lore instead of practicing it , and burying their kind in Wei Zhong instead offindingemployment for them. H a! H e gave them, indeed, no opportunity to set their tongues aclruniming in their mouths and to arch their eyebrows premeditating their pro and contra disquisitions on affairs of national scope. 18

The orator here seems to be indulging in a bit of wishful thinking, shoveling dirt over the bodies of prone scholars in his mind, perhaps, as he speaks. But his wishful indulgence is itself a testimony to the growing political influence of the middle-income Confucian gentry, already too powerful to be ignored in the capital: "If we do not adopt their plans, these scholars will continue to criticize us. For too long a time the din raised by this mob has been unbearable in the great metropolitan offices of the m inisters.'' This frustrated officer knew well the challenge posed by this "m ob," but did not yet know how to exploit its might. H e would have been sorely distressed had he known that a century later Emperor Guangwu (reigned 25-57) would court the favor of that same social group, drawing political sustenance from what had been a swarm of gadflies fdr him. Emperors Guangwu and Min g had succeeded in taming the swelling power of public sentiment by convincing the scholars that their voices could be heard. One need only glance at the essays of Wang Chong (27—97) appreciate just how successful they had been in this 19





respect. Little more than a century after court officials dreamed of dusting scholars with several tons of dirt, Wang Chong confidendy set about refoirning public policy by writing private essays: "When the ruler of men goes astray, plans for reform must be sent up to court, and when the lower officials are misled, critical essays must be addressed to them. If one has got the truth of the matter, then [through the lower officials] the higher echelons will be persuaded also. By this means I hope to enlighten misguided minds so that they may know the difference between fact and falsehood." Such optimism was inconceivable only a century before. At the time of writing, Wang was no more than an ordinary citizen. True, he had been an officer in the local bureau of merit for awhile, during which time he had composed memorials recommending prohibition laws against alcohol and luxurious consumption, only to have his plan put in the round file. Before long, he himself was cashiered along with his ideas. Nonetheless, he remained confident of his potential to affect the political process because, in his own words, "those who author books are just like those who author essays to be sent up as memorials." Whether Wang really could effect any change is beyond the point. It is remarkable that a citizen could take such an idea for granted in the first century A . D . Bearing in mind the complaints of the economists a century or so before, Wang's claim amounts to nothing less than that ordinary citizens can participate in political affairs through the exercise of rhetorical discourse. Wang preferred to apply his persuasions in written form, but we can be sure that plenty of minds were swayed in conversation, especially at public gatherings such as funerals. And then there were those who sought to make political statements in pictorial form. Among these were the men and, possibly, women, who commissioned the tomb at Wulaowa. 20


The Theme

of Political




The right to speak out on public issues was a key concern of the Shandong scholars during the salt and iron debates because it lay at the crux of the literatus's claim to a share in society's resources. Speech was the scholar's substitute for hereditary wealth and rank. Because of this, the scholar's interest in political legitimacy was not limited to justifying the emperor's authority, although he was good at that. There was also the matter of his own right to speak out on matters of public interest. At Wulaowa these two themes—the ruler's legitimacy and the scholar's right to criticize—are raised together in the guise of four Classical references presented on the same stone: the First Emperor




of Qin and the Zh ou ceremonial tripods; Kin g Cheng and the Duke of Zh ou; Confucius meeting with Lao zi; and Confucius's meeting with the boy Xiang Tuo (figs. 91, 92). The first two subjects deal explicidy with the political legitimacy of rulers, while the last two concern the legitimate participation of scholars. In other words, each of these themes addresses that issue which we now know was of paramount concern to the scholars. We are no longer dealing with an art of display. This is an art form addressed to an issue and designed to persuade. Within the history of the scholar's struggle to speak out, no figure loomed so large or ugly as the First Emperor of Qin. Among extant monuments, "the First Emperor of Qin and the Zhou ceremonial tripods" may well be the earliest classical story to have survived in funerary engravings. It is fitting, then, that the First Emperor should loom just as large in iconography during the period when the scholars first applied art to rhetorical purposes. At Wulaowa the story is illustrated twice (figs. 91, 92). Tradition had it that the First Emperor of Qin, thinking himself the equal of the Zhou kings, had a search made for the lost cauldrons of the Zhou royal house. From earliest times the cauldrons for making sacrifices to the royal ancestors had been synonymous with political legitimacy. If the First Emperor could possess those of the previous dynasty, he could claim Heaven's blessing as an ornament to his might. When the cauldrons were found, the emperor ordered them dredged up, but at the last moment a dragon's head thrust out from inside the cauldron to sever the ropes with its jaws. This is the moment usually depicted in illustrations of this story in the Jiaxiang school (fig. 92). From the scholar's point of view this is, indeed, the most important scene, for it is at this moment that Heaven intervened to shatter the hopes of the world's most powerful tyrant by denying him the one thing he could not take as the spoils of war—political legitimacy. There is a problem with this interpretation of the scene. No extant H an source records the story of the miraculous loss of the tripod by the First Emperor. Sima Qian tells us that Emperor Wu found an auspicious tripod and notes that the First Emperor attempted, unsuccessfully, to find one in the River Si, but neither he nor any other H an author says anything about a dragon . Before tackling this question, it is necessary to note that there are actually two types of tripod scene. Some, such as the one at Xiaotangshan or another in the tomb at An qiu, show men raising a tripod but no dragon. Others, such as those at Wulaowa, scattered stones from the Jiaxiang region, and, possibly, an early one from Xutai (first century B . C . ) , clearly render the dragon and the severed cord as it slackens before the tripod falls back into the water. In an 22





92. To p to bottom: Kin g Cheng and the Duke o f Zh o u ; carriage procession; the first emperor raising the tripods o f Zh o u . Stone engraving from the tomb at Wulaowa, near Jiaxiang, Shandong, first century A . D . Ink rubbing, from Zh u Xilu , "Jiaxiang," fig. 2.

unpublished paper, Judy Lai has suggested that the first type of scene might illustrate nothing more than the discovery of an auspicious omen such as that recorded for Emperor Wu. This would explain why, at Xiaotangshan, the tripod scene occurs together with so many other omens, such as the hybrid beast or the magic mushroom (which also appeared for Emperor Wu). Lai suspects that those with a dragon, however, may refer to the First Em peror. The severed cord in the latter type of scene certainly places narrow constraints on its interpretation. There is no denying that the engravings show the tripod being lost and that the tripod was the traditional symbol of Heaven's favor. Because of this it is difficult to escape the conclusion that this scene was designed to illustrate the loss of Heaven's mandate. It may be that the story existed in Han times, but the original text, like many others, has been lost. Or it 24




may be that the dragon was an invention of a Shandong artist who wished to illustrate, in a graphic manner, that the First Emperor attempted to raise a tripod and failed, as recorded by Sima Qian. But considering the internal evidence of the scene, and particularly in contiguity with a righteous ruler such as the Duke of Zhou, it is difficult to deny that this illustration was designed as the contrary of the auspicious omen scene, a miracle attesting to Heaven's displeasure rather than its approbation. Having granted this much, we must concede that the traditional identification of the scene has much to recommend it, for the First Emperor was the paradigm of the illegitimate ruler. It is necessary to emphasize that the First Emperor was considered illegitimate largely because of his suppression of dissent. It was he who sought to crush the voices of criticism under tons of dirt. The point is frequendy encountered in arguments against Legalist doctrines during the Former Han. The Legalist Qin dynasty was bound to fall because tyranny suppresses that criticism which is essential to the proper functioning of government: "Blocked was the path of the scholar and gagged the mouths of men. Daily the flatterers forged ahead and those on high never heard their mistakes criticized. This was how the Qin lost the Empire and brought ruin to its own sanctuaries." The Qin dynasty, unlike the H an , failed to recognize the fallibility of its decision-making process. It lacked those checks and channels of feedback instituted during Han times and, as a consequence, enjoyed no more than a short debut on the stage of history. Bearing this tradition in mind, it is easy to understand the appeal of the tripod scene for Han scholars, for it illustrated the dire consequences that would befall rulers who failed to take the advice of Confucian sages. It also reminds the viewer that the scholar's might extended far beyond the range of his physical strength, for he had Heaven itself to back him up. If this interpretation of the scene is correct, we might conclude that the illustration is didactic but not necessarily rhetorical. The rhetorical effect of these illustrations derives not from any individual scene but from the comparisons and contrasts created by the use of multiple registers on each stone (a practice rarely employed, incidentally, at Nanyang). Parallel prose and analogical argument are the hallmarks of Han rhetoric, and the use of parallel arrangements in both the early and late Jiaxiang schools allows the translation of that familiar literary device to visual art. The rhetorical impact of such comparisons is evident in figure 92, where we see, in the top register, another ruler who, like the First Emperor below, is accepting the allegiance of his officers. This ruler, however, is Kin g Cheng. The figure kneeling to the viewer's right is not any ordinary officer but the Duke of Zh ou, the man whom Confucius took as a model. The scene refers to a point in Chinese history shortly after the fall of the Shang. Kin g Cheng was too young to 25



20 3

rule and so, to stabilize the new kingdom, the Duke ruled in his stead for seven years. At the end of that period the Duke dutifully relinquished control to the young king, and so, in the illustration, we see him righteously offering his loyalty to the boy. There is a deep parallel in this story to the situation under the First Emperor of Qin. It is not merely that the duke was righteous and the First Emperor a tyrant. At the time the duke gave up his regency he was the most powerful statesman in the Zh ou kingdom. Nothing would have been easier for him than to continue to rule as regent, pushing the young king aside, but his political might gave way to righteousness when he turned the state over to the legitimate ruler. H ad he failed to do so, his kingdom might have suffered the same fate as the empire of Qin. The point, therefore, is not that there are good guys and bad guys, but that military might is insufficient to maintain the survival of a political entity. Note that this proposition is not asserted blandly, as, for instance, the godhood of Christ might be asserted in a Christian painting: it is argued and supported by means of historical and classical citations, just as it might be argued in any number of memorials. "Clearly," we can almost hear the scholars say," it is not only moral but also practical and expedient to follow the example of our Confucian sages rather than the First Emperor." But we must find more evidence of rhetorical intent, for as it stands it is possible still to interpret these two stories as didactic tales. After all, the juxtaposition of evil tyrants and sage kings calls to mind historical descriptions of didactic wall paintings portraying famous rulers of both persuasions. Were the subjects of the early Jiaxiang school limited to this type, we might still hesitate to lift them from the status of didactic illustration to rhetorical discourse. However, there are other, subder themes at Wulaowa that reveal the scope of thematic interest to be far broader than an exposition of good and bad rulers. Perhaps the most important of these is the scene of Confucius meeting Lao zi. The significance of the "Confucius meeting Lao zi" scene for the Shandong scholars is reflected in the fact that it is illustrated so frequendy (fig. 80). At Wulaowa alone it appears at least twice and perhaps three times, the most elaborate example being found in a register between an illustration of the First Emperor raising the tripods and Kin g Cheng and the Duke of Zhou (fig. 91). It may be also that the scene in the bottom register is yet another variant of this story. But this scene, unlike the illustrations of the First Emperor or the Duke of Zh ou, cannot be interpreted so easily as a didactic tale. O n the contrary, it touches direcdy on that issue of greatest significance to the scholar: his right to participate in political affairs. The "Confucius meeting Lao z i " designation for this scene is somewhat misleading. Actually, it is a conflation of two stories: one in which Confucius



meets Lao zi, and another in which he meets a young boy called Xiang Tuo. The engraver causes the viewer to call to mind both stories by placing the young boy Xiang Tuo between the two great sages. Xiang Tuo, in such scenes, is always shown facing Confucius, as though speaking to him (figs. 22, 80). In figure 91, the boy seems to be facing the sage to the viewer's left. This man, therefore, must be Confucius. The conflation of the two stories, as we shall see, is unlikely to have been a mistake on the part of the artist, but rather, like die use of registers, a deliberate rhetorical device. The likely source for both citations is the Records of Sima Qian. Throughout the biography, as told by Sima Qian, Confucius meets a variety of recluses, all of whom warn him of the dangers of speaking out under intolerant regimes. One of the first such men he meets is Lao zi. As related by Sima Qian, Confucius went to visit Lao zi to inquire about propriety. When they had talked for awhile Lao zi escorted Confucius out saying I have heard that the rich send a man off with money, but that the humane send him off with advice. Now I haven't the means to become rich, but since I have an undeserved reputation for being humane, I shall send you off with these words: An intelligent observer, fond of social criticism, is one who risks his life; a learned man who discourses on public issues far and wide, even at the risk of his own life, is one who incites the hatred of others. To be a son, is not to think only of oneself; to be an official is not to think only of oneself. 26

Lao zi's dry dismissal of the rich is in keeping with the irreverent character of the book attributed to him. H e knows he is speaking to a fellow humanist, one to whom speech is more precious than riches. Yet he hastens to remind Con fucius that the man who engages in social criticism must be aware of the risks. This is no didactic tale. It hits at the heart of political participation by scholars in and out of office. The significance of the story of Xiang Tuo can hardly be understood except in tandem with this issue of political participation and dissent. In the Records, as well as every other source that mentions him, we hear only that Xiang Tuo was a teacher of Confucius, "although he was only a lad of seven ." The silence of the texts regarding the content of his speech suggests that it was not the message itself that was of interest. Rather, it was the fact that, despite his diminutive stature (socially as well as physically), Confucius was willing to learn from the boy because his words rang true. This point is made clear in a chapter of the Book of Master Huainan, an essay devoted to considerations of merit. H ow, for instance, does one determine the true merit of a text? The author complains that contemporary scholars often praise a text simply because it is ascribed to a famous author. Like a simpleminded ruler, they are unable to judge a thing's 27




worth on the basis of its own merits. But if the argument by authority is untrustworthy, how should one judge a man? For this, the author is able to cite a number of classical examples, among which is the case of Xiang Tuo: "Xiang Tuo, a child of seven years, was a teacher of Confucius, and the Master paid heed to his words. A youth speaking to an elder generally gets his face slapped; but this boy was saved castigation by the wisdom of his word s." In other words, merit is to be determined by wisdom and intelligence, not by appearance, tide, or pretense. It takes little imagination to see the pertinence of this point for middleincome scholars who had only recendy won the right to speak out on public issues. A man may or may not be an official; perhaps he has "torn sandles" or a plain robe. Still, Xiang Tuo would seem to argue, it is legitimate for him—or anyone—to speak his mind if his words are righteous and in accordance with classical values. From the perspective of narrative continuity it makes little sense to conflate two events in Confucius's life that have no historical or textual link. From the perspective of rhetoric, however, it makes a great deal of sense. Confucius's meeting with Lao zi affirms the value of speech over money and the scholar's duty to dissent even at the risk of personal harm. Confucius's meeting with Xiang Tuo affirms that any man has a legitimate right to speak out if his words are righteous. The three points are complementary and reinforce one another as an argument concerning the nature of legitimate participation in government. From this it is apparent that the scope of the other two scenes on this stone (dealing with Kin g Cheng and the First Emperor) ranges far beyond a didactic contrast of the good and the bad. These scenes, too, focus on the theme of legitimacy. But the legitimacy of rulers is not the only issue here. There is also the question of the legitimate right of citizens to participate in political discourse, and that is the main point of the "Confucius meeting Lao zi" scene. The parallel presentation of this set of four citations leads to an argument the force of which seems to be that political legitimacy is a function of adherence to classical ideals of justice. Even a child, if he promotes what is just, shares in the same source of legitimacy as the sages. The scholar's right to take a political stance, like the ruler's right to rule, is guaranteed not by might, not by station, and not by money, but by the merit of his actions and words, which is to say, the degree to which these affirm classical humanist ideals. By citing a series of classical stories and positioning them in parallel sequences, the artist, like any good scholar, presented an argument on a theme of public interest that carried all the authority of the classics themselves. Parallel prose, the favorite rhetorical device of the scholars, had found its way onto funerary monuments. The stones had acquired the art of speech. 28


Classical as




•* ven if one knew nothing of the political history of the Latter H an , a look at changes in local stone engraving would suggest that something had gone awry. The Wu family shrines, built almost a century after the Wulaowa tomb, are no longer content merely to raise general issues of political legitimacy. Instead, they sing more stridendy and more eloquendy of treachery and justice, of purity and filth, and of tyranny and vice. The classical repertoire still includes the First Emperor, Confucius and Lao zi, and the Duke of Zh ou, but it has expanded to encompass a variety of worthy men, some of whom served tyrants and some of whom died at their hands. Heavenly omens are more numerous and more explicidy political in content, referring direcdy to questions of public welfare, bureaucratic recruitment, and other matters of local interest. In short, the H an funerary monument in Shandong had evolved into a rather sophisticated vehicle of public criticism. What made this possible? H ow did unknown provincial scholars succeed in fostering an art more eloquent than the court art of the previous millenium? If forced to trace the essence of this art to some peculiarity of the middle-income scholar, we should have to single out first and foremost his middleness. The H an scholar's middleness determined the rules of the game he had to play. Under emperors Guangwu and Min g, the scholars participated in a dialogue of sorts; the court listened to what the educated public had to say. It listened because the emperor no longer held all the cards. In return for political support, the Latter H an emperors had agreed, in word and in deed, to play by 20 6



the rules of the classics. In the lives and actions of the ancient sages could be found all possible paradigms for dialogues between the knowledgeable and the powerful. Should the powerful win too many chips, the scholar could claim an infraction of the rules. H e would hold up the past as a template to reveal the mistakes of the present. H e could do these things because he was a middleman. He had one foot in Heaven and one on earth; one hand in the present and one in the past. H e kept his balance by following the rulebook closely, trying to realize in life those paradigms he found in the classics. Under emperors Guangwu and Min g, the classical paradigms were easy to follow, and the scholar prospered from his middling status. One could accept the call of a worthy ruler and play the part of the sage minister; or one might tarry awhile and assume the role of the noble recluse. Both paradigms were well attested in the Confucian Analects, and either could enhance a man's public standing. Under the rulers of the second century A. D . , however, playing the part of a living sage could be dangerous. Many scholars would exercise their option to criticize at their own peril, for they found themselves once again in fierce competition with the commercial sector for society's resources. The stakes were high, and the players did not always follow the rules. The origins of this competition can be traced to the end of the first century of the Latter Han, when members of the empress's clan—the so-called consort families—acquired the habit of seizing an inordinate share of power by setting up children as emperors. These toddlers were too young to assume the tasks of administration, so the empress dowager was entided to rule instead. Once in the seat of power, empress dowagers were inclined to situate members of their own families in the bureaucracy. Those who obtained office through relatives at court were different from the rank and file. They were not subject to those checks and balances that operated in the regular bureaucratic system. The line dividing the private from the public was starting to blur, while that separating the ruler from the ruled grew sharper. These intrigues at court benefited not only the consort families, but another group situated beyond the regular controls of the bureaucracy—the eunuchs. Guangwu, it seems, was aware of the threat of power grabbing by consort families (Wang Mang had been a member of such a clan). So he took steps to distance the imperial office from court officers. Unfortunately, this only exacerbated the problem, for when consort families were able to seize power, the emperor found it difficult to seek help from his officials. Cut offfrom his officers and dominated by the consort family, the emperor had no one to whom he could turn but his closest acquaintances, the eunuchs. Therefore, when emperors Shun (126-145) and Huan (147-167) seized the power that was rightfully theirs, they did so only with the aid of the eunuchs. But by that time the 1



influence of eunuchs in government had increased dramatically. The number of eunuch offices at court was expanded; eunuchs began to manage departments formerly managed by Confucian officials; they began to adopt conspicuously affluent lifestyles and grew fond of appointing relatives and followers to office (see chapter 9). This last development constituted a direct attack on the recruitment system. It was an assault on the bread and butter of the scholars, for it threatened the traditional channels of scholar mobility. With thirty thousand students attending the imperial university by the mid-second century, the number of qualified candidates for office reached its apex just at the moment when special interests at court were pinching the flow of scholars into the system. The value of a private relation had become competitive with that of a public reputation. Small wonder that the themes of recruitment, government service, and political legitimacy resound loudly in the swansong of the H an scholars from the mid to late second century, a song written in their many memorials, in their lives, and in their art. Those men so anxious to become living embodiments of Confucius now had their chance, for Confucius was no stranger to injustice. During his lifetime he never met a sage king, but he met plenty of tyrants. The statesmen at court knew this and in their memorials frequendy called Confucius into service to support their cause. But to which texts, to which sages did the village scholar turn for justification, for support or for solace, when justice went awry? O f this the memorials reveal little; by definition, they record the opinions of national elites. To enter the mind of the local scholar we must turn to local funerary monuments. They reveal the arguments with which these men defended their own livelihood. What they tell us is that questions of government service, of economy, and of justice were viewed with the same urgency in the village schools as in the halls of the great ministers. 2


and Illegitimate


At Wulaowa the perils of the scholar in search of a job arose in connection with the story of Confucius meeting Lao zi (figs. 40,44). This scene illustrates more than the meeting of two sages; it represents the meeting of two paradigms for the village scholar. Confucius was the paradigm of the man of talent and learning anxious to serve. Lao zi, on the other hand, was the respected maverick, the man of learning and wisdom who nurtured a healthy skepticism toward the system. H e knew the perils that could befall a man of principle in the dirty world of politics and offered an honorable alternative for those who would shun government service. Because these two exemplars embodied the rights, the




duties, and the perils of the scholar, the story of their meeting was the perfect choice to raise the issue of political participation at Wulaowa. By the second century the funerary monument had become a more sophisticated medium of political discourse and the perils of which Lao zi warned had become reality. Since the recruitment system was being threatened by illegitimate practices of succession at court, it is not surprising that we should find among the W u family engravings a concern for this issue. The early Jiaxiang school was "pre-adapted" for this; its early repertoire included a subject that addressed direcdy the theme of legitimate succession, the story of Kin g Cheng and the Duke of Zhou (fig. 21). K ING CH ENG



During the first century, the issue of legitimate succession was not itself foremost in the minds of scholars because emperors Guangwu, Min g, and Zhang were strong rulers in a legitimate line. The story was still pertinent, however, because it showed the depth of the duke's loyalty and highlighted the legitimate mandate of Kin g Cheng as opposed to the illegitimate rule of the First Emperor. During the second century this same subject, this same composition (figs. 92, 21), must have acquired new connotations in the work of the later Jiaxiang school, for the exigence of the times had changed. Consider only the events of the few years during which the earliest of the Wu family shrines were constructed, A . D . 145-151. In 145 the Empress Dowager Liang set up a two-year-old toddler as Emperor Chong, in whose stead she would reign. Unfortunately, he died after only five months as emperor-to-be. Two years and one child emperor later, this same empress dowager, in collaboration with her brother Liang Ji, would raise the boy emperor Huan to the throne and continue to rule in his stead. If the parallel between these activities and the story of Kin g Cheng seems strained for us, it was not so for the Liangs. In A . D . 151 the empress dowager made the comparison herself when she stepped down from her regency and pretended to give the reins of state to the young emperor. On that occasion she explained, in an eloquent speech, the reasons for her extended regency. All along she had desired to let the young emperor rule, but there had been uprisings and disturbances which required an experienced hand, and so she had delayed giving up the regency for awhile. Since peace had been restored to the empire, she could now step aside in good conscience and in this way reveal the true meaning of the words "restore the child to the throne and make manifest the true lord." This phrase was taken from the lips of the Duke of Zhou himself as recorded in the Book of History. By casting herself in this role, the empress dowager hoped to demonstrate that, popular opinion to the contrary, her regency had been the equal of the duke's. 3




It is unlikely that many scholars were convinced. In reality the empress dowager's health must have been waning, for she died shortly thereafter. Her brother Liang Ji continued to monopolize state affairs until A . D . 159, when Emperor Huan , with aid from the eunuchs, was able to carry out a coup against Ji and his clan . H ow ironic the engraving of Kin g Cheng in the left shrine (fig. 21) must have seemed at this time. H ow could the village scholars help comparing the duke's loyalty with the empress dowager's hypocrisy? After all, she had drawn the analogy herseE 5



Other engravings at the Wu family shrines address direcdy the issue of tyranny and illegitimate succession. The story of Duke Lin g, for instance, raises the issue of criticism and tyranny (fig. 3; see chapter 1). Such also is the theme of an engraving on a fragment recendy assigned to the fourth shrine (fig. 23) . In this fragment, the theme of illegitimate succession resonates with the other surviving subjects of the relief, for all four classical references address the issue of government service in troubled times. Two scenes highlight the choice between government service and reclusion; one scene illustrates the problem of maintaining moral purity in the service of an immoral ruler; and the fourth raises questions of legitimate succession and injustice. The issue of government service during times of political turmoil was certainly on the minds of scholars at the time the Wu shrines were built, but the major cause of that turmoil was believed to be intrigues surrounding the imperial succession. That is why the story of Zhao Wu, illustrated in the lower right-hand corner of this fragment (fig. 93), must have touched a deep chord among those who viewed it. A major figure in the story of Zhao Wu is the rapacious Tu'an Gu, a minister in the state of Jin who seized the office of the high minister, Zhao Shuo, by attempting to extinguish his clan. Since ministerial positions were hereditary in the Spring and Autumn period (770—476 B . C . ) , it was essential that Tu'an eliminate all male descendants of the Zhao clan. Any surviving heir of the former minister could challenge his reign. However, at the moment the slaughter took place, the wife of Zhao Shuo was with child. In time a baby boy was born, who now became the natural heir to the Zhao household. The boy was hidden away to escape harm, but Tu'an Gu had heard of the child and initiated an intensive search. Two loyal retainers of the Zhao clan realized that the manhunt would never end until Tu'an had spilled the baby's blood. Therefore, one of the retainers, Gongsun Chujiu, h id himself in the mountains with another child while the other retainer, Cheng Yin g, reported to Tu'an that he knew the whereabouts of the Zhao heir. Chujiu and the substitute baby were killed, but the real heir was saved. The boy was named Zhao Wu and was raised by Cheng 6



93. Detail o f fig. 23. Li u H u i saving a fre e zing woman (right); the baby Zhao Wu , his mother, and his rescuer, Che ng Yin g (left). Stone engraving from the fourth Wu family shrine, Jiaxiang, Shandong, A . D . 147-167. ¥rom Chavaruies, Mission,

no .


Ying. When he grew to manhood he took revenge on Tu'an and, as one might expect, extenriinated his clan . Only part of the original composition survives on the fragment illustrated in figure 93. To the right Chujiu kneels outside a building, identified by cartouche. A bird fliesoverhead. Inside the building we can make out a woman—possibly the wife of Zhao Shuo—holding an infant in her arms. The inscription, to the right, refers to certain highlights of the story: "Cheng Yin g and Chujiu were officers in the household of Zhao Shuo. At the time of the slaughter in the lower palace, Zhao Wu was still in the womb. Tuyan [sic] offered a reward for the orphan, [but Cheng Yin g and Chujiu] substituted another child [for the true heir]. [Chu]jiu and [the other baby] died together. [Cheng] Yin g raised the baby and [Zhao] Wu was saved. 7


At any time during the reign of Emperor Huan this story might have turned the thoughts of contemporaries to more recent events, but if this stone belongs to any of the shrines completed before A . D . 151, the reference would have been most apt indeed. The year 148 was the year following the selection of Emperor Huan as Son of Heaven. As we have seen, Huan's reign was beclouded by intrigue from the very beginning. H is predecessor, the unfortunate Emperor



Zhi, had died at the age of eight. A strong imperial successor would have threatened the power of the Liangs and so they passed by a more competent and, to some, more legitimate heir in favor of the adolescent marquis of Liwu , the future Emperor Huan. Since he was still too young to rule, the Liangs continued to hold power, placing their own relatives and friends in official positions and bypassing the regular channels of recommendation. Some scholars, among whom the respected statesman and former recluse Li Gu was most prominent, objected strongly to such tampering with imperial succession. Li Gu was a scholar who had served in a number of high positions under Emperor Shun (126-144). During thistime special interests had already begun to make encroachments upon the traditional turf of the scholars, and Li Gu devoted much of his distinguished career to a valiant defense of the recommendation system and legitimate procedures of imperial succession. These two issues were, of course, closely related, since those cliques which dominated court politics did so through the manipulation of boy emperors. When, in A . D . 147, Li Gu raised a din over the intrigues of the Liang clan, he was martyred by Liang Ji. Li Gu's murder sent a clear message to provincial scholars. A living exemplar had died at the hands of a tyrant. The age of Confucius was no longer a classical story; it was current history. There was a ditty in the capital at the time that expressed public indignation: 9

Straight as a bowstring, he [Li Gu] died by the roadside; Crooked as a hook, he [Liang Ji] was made a m arquis. 10

The engravings at the Wu shrines suggest that such sentiments extended to the village level. Li Gu, like Chujiu, had lost his life in defence of a proper heir, while Liang Ji, like Tu'an Gu , was a tyrant who ruthlessly suppressed all who stood in his way. The memory of Li Gu's death and the looming power of Liang Ji must have cast a bit of a shadow over those who viewed this engraving in the land where Confucius had taught. But suppose this relief was not carved for one of the early shrines but for the latest. Unfortunately for local scholars, its significance would have changed little between 145 and 168, for just two years prior to 168, the scholars suffered their first large-scale persecution by the eunuch-dominated cou r t . 11


and Ré clusion

The troubled administration of Emperor Huan left the local scholar with few alternatives. He could serve and risk reprobation if he, or a superior,



followed the path of Li Gu; or he could cultivate the image of a recluse. The pros and cons of this choice are raised for the consideration of contemporaries at the Wu shrines. The issue arises in the "Confucius meeting Lao zi" scene, of course, but far more specific and subder citations were chosen for the stone that bears the story of Zhao Wu. One of these recounts the time when Confucius met a recluse while playing the chimes. CO NFUCIUS PLATING



In the first scene in the upper register of the fragment (fig. 23), we see Confucius playing the chimes. His chimes are decorated with carved figures. The sage wears a scholar's cap, as do his students. Two of these bow before him while he performs, and two others stand beyond the pillars of the house. But the master's audience is not entirely academic. Off to the far left stands a man without a scholar's cap but of impressive bulk, holding a bowl-like article in his hands. Early in this century Bertold Laufer identified the source of this scene as the incident related in book 14 of the Analects: The Master was in Wei and playing one day on the chimes, when a man carrying a straw basket passed the door of the house where he was, and said: 'Truly, he has feeling who thus strikes the chimes." A little while after he added: "But his chiming only shows his blind obstinacy for reforming society! Nobody appreciates his doctrine, so he should cease his endless search for employment! If the ford is deep, I shall cross it with bare legs; if it is shallow, I shall hold up my clothing to my knees (i.e., I shall adapt to the times). 12

In this tale the straw basket marks the sharp-tongued fellow as a rustic, but his appreciation for music betrays his education. H is words identify him as a hermit who has abandoned any ambition for public employment. H e chides Confucius for doing what Li Gu did—attempting to engage in politics during troubled times.Those familiar with the Analects could not fail to catch the point, for it is anticipated in the paragraph just preceding the musical chimes episode: "Zi Lu happened to pass the night in Shimen, where the gatekeeper said to him, W h om do you come from?' Zi Lu said, 'From Confucius.' 'It is he,—is it not?'—said the other, Svho knows the impracticable nature of the times, and yet will be engaged in p olit ics?'" Educated visitors to the Wu family shrines would, of course, recognize the classical source of the story and the thrust of the scene. But even in the Analects, the story is not without ambiguity. It raises the issue of public service under immoral rulers without resolving it in any clear fashion. This is to be expected, however. At Wulaowa, the argument revealed itself only in the theme common to a series of citations. The same rhetorical strategy seems to have been pursued 13



at the Wu shrines, for the theme of reclusion is pursued in two other scenes on the same stone. One of these (now lost except for its inscription) illustrated the story of Zi Lu and the hermit; the other illustrates the story of Liu H u i. LIU H U I

Both Liu H u i and the story of Zi Lu and the hermit are mentioned in Confucius's biography in Sima Qian's Records, but the classical source in which both feature importandy is book 18 of tint Analects. The significance of this could not have been lost on scholars of the second century. Book 18 of the Analects is a veritable handbook of honorable options available to scholars seeking employment. It presents all the alternatives in the shapes of exemplary historical figures, as well as Confucius's evaluation of each strategy. It must have been a frequent source of justification, guidance, and solace for scholars of the Latter Han . Considering this, some review of the contents of that book will be helpful for reconstructing the emotional resonance of the story of Liu H u i in the lower register of the fragment (fig. 93). The book opens with Confucius's assessment of three worthies of the Shang dynasty (sixteenth [?] to eleventh centuries B . C . ) . Two of these withdrew from court rather than serve the wicked last ruler of the Shang. These men were paradigms of the worthy recluse. The third worthy's history seems to justify their action. H e resisted the tyrant's policies and suffered torture and death as a reward. The rustic with the basket knew his history. From the outset, the book bodes ill for those who would seek office under wicked rulers. Chapter 2 of book 18 discusses the case of Liu H u i, a man of integrity who nonetheless chose to serve rulers of doubtful repute. Although Confucius expressed some reservations about him, he was highly regarded by both the master and Mencius. By Han times he had become a paradigm of the man of integrity placed in a morally compromising situation, a situation illustrated in the bottom right corner of the fragment with a parable from his life (fig. 93). The illustration depicts Liu H u i covering a poorly dressed woman to protect her from exposure to the elements. Even before the viewer enters into the story, this act raises a host of moral issues. Covering the needy with clothing would have been classed as an act of kindness in ancient China as in Europe, but it is also true that the mores governing social relations between men and women were highly restrictive in H an times, and such intimate contact between the sexes, on whatever pretext, was sure to be viewed as questionable. In this illustration the artist chose to highlight the morally objectionable facet of the scene by showing H u i loieeling over the woman, who reclines passively. A tree bends over them, providing shelter. A bear strides incongruously above H u i, possibly an emblem for courage. Behind him a rod conven14



iently extends from the border of the composition. H u i seems to have drawn the clothing from this rod, because we can still see some cloth draped over it. We can also see that the woman is not yet wearing the clothing he places over her because the line defining the uppermost edge of the garment barely covers her breasts and because, noting the position of her head and shoulders, the position ofher arms could not possibly correspond to the arms ofthe garment. Either she is altogether naked, or wears some undergarment that clings to her body. The artist's portrayal of the scene focuses on the moment of bodily contact, heightening the moral issue. The matter of bodily contact is of the essence of this scene precisely because, despite Hui's willingness to pollute himself on this occasion, he was not accused of concupiscence. Rong Geng has traced, not the source of the story, but a reference to it in a book by the late Han poet and essayist Xu Gan. The topic of this particular essay is the importance of establishing a credible reputation so as to earn public trust, a topic with which the W u clan seems to have been deeply concerned. Xu maintained that public trust could be earned over time by behaving in a sincere and trustworthy fashion day after day. It was precisely because of his reputation that Liu H u i was able to avoid charges of lechery even after "tainting" himself by covering up a freezing woman—"because he had accumulated a reputation for purity. Though tainted, [the stain of the unseemly act] did not attach itself [to his reputation ]." What does a breach of sexual taboos have to do with the problem of public service to an unworthy ruler? A great deal, it seems. If we consult Mencius's remarks on Liu H u i, we find that that sexual defilement is simply a metaphor for moral compromise in political life: "[Liu H u i] was not ashamed to [serve] an impure prince, nor did he think it low to be an inferior officer.... Accordingly, he had a saying, To u are you, and I am I. Although you stand by my side with breast and arms bare, or with your body naked, how can you defile me?' Therefore, self-possessed, he companied with men indifferendy, at the same time not losing h im self." The image of the naked body is in fact a metaphor for the moral pollution a scholar risks in serving an impure prince. Liu H u i is an interesting exemplar who represents neither the pure recluse nor the proper minister; he is a bit of a maverick who maintains an inner purity in the midst of defilement. The delightful ambiguity of his status mimics well the complexity of choices facing Confucian scholars in the mid-second century, who were inclined to cast their opposition to the eunuchs in the imagery of purity and defilement (see chapter 8). It was likely no accident that the Wu clan chose Liu H u i from the many exemplars mentioned in book 18 , passing over, it seems, more famous men such as Bo Yi and Shu Q i. 15



2l6 ZI LU A N D




The single issue of service under immoral rulers runs throughout book 18, culminating in some ways in the story of Zi Lu and the hermit, the story originally illustrated on the register above the story of Liu Hui (fig. 23). This story is one of several in book 18 that address the perils of public service. In chapter 3 of that book Confucius himself refuses to serve a ruler who would not carry out his doctrines, a theme continued in chapter 4. There, "Confucius took his departure" from the court of the duke of Lu after the state of Q i sent him a present of singing girls, a courtesy he accepted. All these examples would seem to vindicate the position of the recluse, but in fact Confucius persisted in his search for office, an action that won him ridicule in the chapter 5: "The madman of Chu, named Jieyu, passed by Confucius, singing, 'O Phoenix! O Phoenix! How is your virtue degenerated! As to the past, reproof is useless; but the future may still be provided against. Give up your vain pursuit. Give up your vain pursuit. Peril awaits those who now engage in affairs of governm ent.'" 17

The "peril" theme is underscored in the following chapter, where Con fucius's disciple Zi Lu is warned in no uncertain terms: "Disorder, like a swelling flood, spreads over the whole empire, and who is he that will change its state for you? Rather than follow one who merely withdraws from this ruler or that (i.e., Confucius), had you not better follow those who have withdrawn from the world altogether?" This is more grist for the recluse's m ill, but it is precisely in this chapter that Confucius definitively justifies his quixotic pursuit of office: "It is impossible to associate with birds and beasts, as if they were the same as us. If I associate not with these people,—with mankind,—with whom shall I associate? If right principles prevailed through the empire, there would be no use for me to change its state." Chapter 7 is the one originally illustrated at the W u shrines. Could those who chose this passage have been innocent of the thrust of the book up to this point? It seems doubtful. The recluse-scholars with their social criticism, the idealists seeking service, and the tyrants with their tortures were far too familiar to the men and women who viewed these shrines. This was what they considered as they read book 18; this was what they confronted when they raised their eyes. It was no mere academic issue, but a practical matter. Even for the cynic, who wished merely to better his lot, the moral issue was inescapable. H is best hope for acquiring the rewards of office was to cultivate an exemplary reputation, but if he carelessly served an unworthy superior—say, a supporter of Liang Ji—would this necessarily advance his comfort? Liang Ji was all-powerful in the capital, but in the provinces, as we shall see, there was much the Confucians could do. Morally or practically, the choice was by no means simple. During the 18




reign of the Liang clan, some members of the Wu family chose to serve, while others chose a life of reclusion. In selecting scenes related in theme to questions of public service, the leaders of the clan revealed their sensitivity to an issue that affected all educated men of that generation. In some ways the issue comes to a climax in the chapter illustrated at the Wu shrines, chapter 7, for it is there that Zi Lu , speaking for Confucius, makes a strong case for service against the dismal background of earlier chapters. In this instance, Zi Lu is made to lose his way, figuratively, perhaps, as well as literally. As he wanders he meets another retired hermit. This one is more subde than Jie Yu. Without raising the specter of danger and death, he simply chastises Zi Lu for his ignorance of farming, a skill required of those who would retire from the world: "Zi Lu said to him: 'Have you seen my master sir!' The old man replied, 'Your four limbs are unaccustomed to toil; you cannot distinguish the five kinds of grain:—who is your master?'" But Zi Lu and his master had no intention of growing grain. They would seek office, in good times or bad: "Not to take office is not righteous. If the relations between old and young may not be neglected, how is it that he sets aside the duties that should be observed between sovereign and minister? Wishing to maintain his personal purity, he allows that great relation to come to confusion. A superior man takes office, and performs the righteous duties belonging to it. As to the failure of right principles to make progress, he is aware of t h at ." Does the choice of this episode for illustration mean that the W u family leaders wished to defend their own attempts to seek office under unenlightened rulers? This is a plausible assumption, but the exact wording of the text in the engraving is less specific on this point than the Analects. Indeed, it is merely a paraphrase of the classic, perhaps from memory, and one which, like the illustration to the right, exhibits a healthy respect for the hermits in both scenes: 'Th e old man with a basket. He nourished his inner nature and cherished his true self. Zi Lu fell behind [while following Confucius, and thus] met the old man, asking ["Have you seen my master sir?" The old man] replied [by referring to the sorry state of Zi Lu's] four limbs; he killed a fowl and prepared grain [for Zi Lu to eat]. [Zi Lu] stood respectfully before him and said n ot h in g." In this account it is the old man who seems the wiser, just as the hermit with the basket stands taller than Confucius in the scene to the right. Yet, in the original text for both scenes, Confucius defends his idealistic quest. It is not obvious that the clan was favoring one option over the other. What is clear is that they made a thoughtful and sensitive selection of themes pertinent to the issue of public service under wicked rulers. Their selection illustrates the Confucian ideal of public service while maintaining a genuine respect for the recluse ideal, an ideal that figuresprominendy in the iconography of Wu Liang's shrine. 20




Wu Liang himself took the part of the recluse in his local community. H e had an important role to play in the economy of prestige maintained by his family, for in Latter H an society recluses were the most effective critics of the central government.

The Social Role of the


The social role of the man of learning is easy for men and women of Western heritage to understand. The Confucian scholar dedicated to his classics and determined to carry out their principles in life had his counterparts in ancient Rom e. But the social role of the recluse is more susceptible to misreading. H e might, for example, call to mind those unworldly hermits of the medieval period, but that would be a mistake. If the Chinese recluse had the power to roam throughout Western history in search of a kindred soul, he or she (for there were some female recluses) would probably pass by the Middle Ages. The seventeeth century might offer some attractions, but the recluse would almost certainly touch down on the east coast of nineteenth-century America, for it is then and there that we find a most sympathetic and accurate description of the Chinese hermit's ethos: 22

It is a sign of our times, conspicuous to the coarsest observer, that many intelligent and religious persons withdraw themselves from the common labors and competitions of the market and the caucus, and betake themselves to a certain solitary and critical way of living. . . . Our American literature and history are, we confess, in the operative mood; but whoso knows these seething brains, these admirable radicals, these unsocial worshippers, these talkers who talk the sun and moon away, will believe that this heresy cannot pass away without leaving its mark. They are lonely; the spirit of their writing and conversation is lonely; they repel influences; they shun general society; they incline to shut themselves in their chamber in the house, to live in the country rather than in the town, and to find their tasks and amusements in solitude. Society, to be sure, does not like this very well; it saith, Whoso goes to walk alone, accuses the whole world; he declares all unfit to be his companions; it is very uncivil, nay, insulting; Society will retaliate. 23

This is the story of the Latter Han recluse. Withdrawal and social criticism, fame and/or notoriety, followed by retaliation. Emerson, of course, knew nothing of the H an recluse, although he was known to dip into the Confucian classics on occasion. But if we can understand the social values that gave nobility



to the stance of the transcendental hermit, we can do the same for the H an recluse. For reclusion, in China, was by nature a critical and radical act, even if sanctified by tradition. Refusal to serve the government damned that regime even as it testified to the unselfish purity of the recluse. An d the Chinese recluse was rarely content to leave the criticism implicit. Like Emerson's hermit, he loved to talk, for his real role was that of social critic. It was for this reason that society, on occasion, was known to retaliate. To some degree all this could be said of the recluse even in Confucius's time. But prior to the H an the political punch of the recluse was weak at best. Confucius rarely had to entertain anxious monarchs trying to woo him back into service. This was not so of the Latter Han . The H an ruler's need for public support and the emergence of public opinion as a political force gave enormous authority to the words of the recluse. For of all the living exemplars practicing their measured steps in village and town, none commanded such respect as the recluse. They lacked mstimtionalized power and they often lacked wealth, but they commanded enormous prestige. They were the celebrities of their day. The birth of the political power of the recluse coincided with the earliest attempts to mobilize public support with the rhetoric of sages and omens. The first ruler to attempt this on a large scale was, of course, Wang Mang: When Wang Mang usurped power, those who were loyal and righteous were ashamed to become officials, and so they took to the gorges and inaccessible areas and were content to languish unrecognized. Even after the restoration of the Han dynasty, still the practice of hiding away and preserving one's integrity was widely emulated, and it was the fashion that the decision to leave or take office was taken most seriously. During the reigns of Huan and Lin g [147-189], the emperors were negligent, the government confused, and the fate of the empire was entrusted to the eunuchs. The scholars were ashamed to be in league with these people, and so there were those who went about voicing their grievances, and the recluse-scholars were liberal with their criticism. Consequendy, their reputations waxed high and they mutually reviled or boasted about one another. They examined and evaluated all the high officials and criticized those who were in charge of government. Thus the fashion of indignandy voicing one's criticism became widespread. 24

Wang Mang had to woo the scholars because he had cast himself in the role of the sage-king. H e had his antique rituals and he had his heavenly omens; what he needed was scholars of impeccable reputation, the "phoenixes and unicorns" who would bear witness to his sagely reign. It is difficult to determine exactly



how useful such men could have been to him, but the lengths to which he would go to get them offers a rough measure of their power. Li Ye was one such celebrity who refused to abandon the wilderness for the court. Wang Mang was desperate for his help, and so the grand administrator of Li's commandery tried to stir him with mtimidation, threatening imprisonment or worse if Li refused to cooperate. This was a mistake, as the grand administrator's assistant pointed out. Citing Confucius, he reminded his superior that the intimidation of one celebrity was likely to win him the fervent disdain of every other famous scholar in the empire. The grand aciministrator relented, and Li's reputation waxed greater. But that is not the end of the story. During the wars preceding Guangwu's victory, a warlord named Gongsun Shu set himself up as emperor in what is now Sichuan. H e, too, offered Li a position and he, too, was turned down. Gongsun Shu continued to woo Li for another two years and then, in" frustration, made him an offer he could not refuse. One day Li opened his door to an imperial messenger with a summons in one hand and a vial of poison in the other. Li could choose whichever suited him , but was reminded of the honors that awaited him should he comply and the tragedy that awaited his family should he refuse. Li held his ground: "If a true man has made up his mind, what does this have to do with his wife and children?" Saying this, like Socrates, he took the poison, and died. It was then that Gongsun Shu learned the power of the recluse. "When Gongsun Shu heard that Li had died, he became gready alarmed, and was mortified that he might acquire the reputation of a 'sage-killer.'" In a clumsy attempt to make amends, he sent funerary gifts to Li's family, but Li's son sent them away. No Shang king or Zhou duke would have suffered such an in su lt . But there was little that Gongsun Shu could do, for he feared he might further alienate those many educated gentry whose support he sorely needed. Gongsun Shu may have been as poor a general as he was a politician, for in the end he was swept away by Guangwu's forces. Without strong support from the scholar-gentry of Sichuan, it is difficult to see how he could have resisted the astute Liu Xiu (the future Guangwu). While alive, Li Ye had cast a dark cloud over Gongsun Shu's reign. In death he brought on a virtual eclipse. The prestige of the recluse, sanctioned in the classics, was such that he could shape the minds and actions of large portions of the educated public. H e had the power to alter the destiny of the empire. Like Emperor Ming's Bright H all, the Han recluse was a mere reification of a classical paradigm, but that paradigm happened to be a potent political weapon. H ad Gongsun Shu become emperor instead of Guangwu, his biography would doubdess have been written differendy. But the power of the recluse need not be inferred only from the negative behavior of Gongsun Shu. There can be 25



little doubt that Guangwu intended to cast himself in the role of patron of worthy scholars, and we know that this gained him the enthusiastic support of the scholar-gentry. Guangwu was more successful in his reconstruction of classical institutions and more subde in his manipulation of omens than Wang Mang. When it came to dealing with reclusive celebrities, he, too, had difficulties, but he wisely avoided the errors of his rivals, as can be seen from his treatment of the recluse Yan Guang. Yan was one of those proud men of whom the historian spoke. As a youth he had been a classmate of the future Guangwu and had already acquired a degree of fame in scholar circles. After Guangwu ascended the dragon throne, Yan changed his name and went into reclusión. Guangwu wanted his services, however, and ordered that he be searched out. H e was found, but refused to come. Guangwu sent an official carriage with imperial summons, but to no avail. Guangwu had to visit Yaft several times in person and, in the end, let him sleep with his feet on the imperial shoulders. Still, Yan would not come to court, but Guangwu's handling of the case was shrewd. By consenting to demean his imperial person for the sake of a recluse, Guangwu had demonstrated that he valued the services of such men more than his own pride. More importandy, through his liberal treatment of worthies, Guangwu gave official sanction to the idea preserved in the classics, that of all those worthy of official tides, few were more worthy than those who had maintained their purity by refusing the rewards of office. The recluses of the early Latter H an established a precedent that enabled scholars of the second century to speak their minds—scholars like W u Liang hiniself, a self-proclaimed recluse. A famous recluse who may have been aclmired by Wu Liang was Li Gu , a recluse-turned-official who was deeply involved in combating court intrigues and special interests. Between 135 and 14s Li Gu wrote a memorial on the topic of official appointments. At this point Li had just been appointed to head the office of court architect, which managed imperially related building projects, such as palace buildings and grounds, or mausolea. Upon receiving this appointment he wrote a memorial to the throne once again urging the maintenance of proper appointment procedures: 26

When your majesty first ascended the throne you dispelled the chaos (inherited from the past) like a dragon arising, employing men like Fan Yin g, Huang Q ion g, Yang H o u , and H e Chun. You marveled at the memorials these men sent to you, and you gave them high offices. In response to this all the recluse-scholars who had been living in remote caves, men with knowledge of government affairs, tidied up their caps



and gowns in hopes of taking office, all of them willing to render service to you. Thus the entire empire was happy, and everyone was obedient to your sagely virtue. Formerly, when I was in Jingzhou and heard that H ou and Chun retired from office claiming sickness, I was truly disappointed, and the whole world deplored it. One day in a court meeting I saw that all the attendants were young people and there was not a single famous scholar or reputable man to consult with. I felt that this was truly lamentable. Your Majesty really ought to recall H o u and the others in order to meet the expectations of the p u b lic. 27

Like Li Ye before him , Li Gu represented the threat of public discontent. Unlike Li Ye, he quite consciously dangled this threat before the emperor to persuade him to hire reputable men. But when he spoke ofgood, reputable men, he had in mind "recluse-scholars." We should not suppose that these men fled to the wilderness like Yan Guang. More accurately, they were reputable but unemployed men of learning who, as this passage makes clear, were quite willing and even anxious to accept an official position. Li Gu's memorial was part of a tradition that had managed on numerous occasions to increase the numbers of critical Confucians within the bureacratic ranks. The trend accelerated noticeably during the second century, however, with calls for worthy men and/or recluses in 107,142,145,147,154, and 165. By mid-century the ability to criticize had become an established criterion for bureaucratic eligibility. As we learned earlier from the historian, this was just the period when the reputations of social critics shined the brightest and the fashion for reclusión reached its peak. It is not that the central government ofthe second century was anxious to be criticized. More likely, it was anxious to mollify discontent among the scholar-gentry. For this purpose the reclusescholar was well suited. Recluse-scholars were by definition critical. Their very way of life made them walking symbols of objectivity, for their rejection of worldly rewards demonstrated the purity of their motives. 28

The historical accomplishment of recluses like Li Ye and Yan Guang is remarkable, for it cannot be stressed too often that, prior to the Latter H an , there was no public in China in any strict sense. The right of ordinary citizens to hold and express political opinions was not widely recognized until the first century A . D . This new enfranchisement had been won only because a weakened court needed the support of the leading citizens in the provinces. Beginning with the age of Wang Man g, the recluses assumed the role of shock troops, testing and expanding central government tolerance for dissent and rewarding liberal regimes with the broad support of the educated landowners. This was the historical lesson of Guangwu's victory over his opponents. Throughout the



Latter Han the recluses remained the radical advocates of what we might be inclined to call citizens' rights. Once we understand this, it is not difficult to appreciate why the recluse theme should have been so important in the visual rhetoric of provincial scholars.



O m e n s as Arguments


he effective use of rhetoric requires that a writer appeal to those assumptions most widely accepted by his audience. The statements we have discovered in H an engravings do, indeed, appeal to assumptions widely accepted by Confucian scholars. The impact of these assumptions can be seen not only in the iconography of the monuments, but even in matters of style. This was so because the logic of a given discourse—the way in which it connects and segregates disparate concepts—sets certain constraints on the kind of pictorial system adequate to express such concepts. In previous chapters, for instance, it could be seen that classical habits of representation matched the cause-and-effect requirements of Latter H an Confucianism. In this chapter and the following one, it should become evident that the rules for creating and combining omen imagery in northeast China were well suited to the logic of Han cosmological theories and textual criticism.



of Latter

H a n Scholars

Wang Chong was a contemporary of the early Jiaxiang school of artists. H is writings reveal more about commonly held assumptions of middle and lower elites than most other Han sources combined. What makes him such a valuable source is not his views, for these are quite atypical. When he dismisses the idea of ghosts as so much superstition, for instance, we would be ill advised 224



to infer that most of his literate contemporaries concurred. H e is valuable instead because he addresses topics of common concern that most Han authors pass over, because he identifies his readership, and because his work is polemical, a fact that forces him to allude to the most commonly accepted notions of his time so as to refute them or find support in them. Wang Chong wrote his L u n Heng expressly with the aim of debunking many assumptions taken for granted by his readership. By rejecting these notions, he was attacking the very basis of contemporary rhetorical discourse. Because of this, Wang Chong's book is a guide to Latter Han rhetorical tactics, both verbal and pictorial. The targets of Wang's lampoons are those very ideas that most richly inform the imagery of Shandong reliefs. In chapters 6 and 7,1 discussed the engravings devoted to Confucian sages at Wulaowa and the Wu shrines (figs. 80, 91,93). Reading Wang Chong, it is difficult to escape the impression that the makers of these monuments were just the sorts of people of whom he spoke: 'Th e students of Confucianism of the present day like to swear in verbis magistri and to believe in antiquity. The words of the worthies and sages are to them infallible and they do their best to explain and practice them, but are unable to criticize t h e m .... One always hears the remarks that the talents of the seventy disciples of the school of Confucius surpassed those of the learned of the present day." Confucius and his disciples were models of personal conduct as much for statesmen in the capital as for village scholars. It is precisely for this reason that their images testified so effectively to the character of men on monuments to the departed. Phoenixes and unicorns also frequendy decorate the walls and lintels of tombs and shrines. Sometimes phoenixes appear alone within a register, sometimes on the roofs of buildings occupied by solemn scholars (figs. 14, 84). Unicorns often appear together with immortal spirits and other auspicious signs, such as mtertwining trees (figs. 94, 26, 56). Why are these animals represented so often? What did they mean to contemporaries? The answer is complex, but Wang's comments on these creatures reveal much about the character of public sentiment that informed those who viewed these engravings: "The scholars hold that the phoenix and the unicorn appear for the sake of a sagely emperor. They regard the phoenix and the unicorn as benevolent creatures and wise animals which have deep thoughts and keep aloof from all danger. When virtue reigns in the land, they appear; when virtue is lacking, they abscond. Extolling the goodness of these two animals, they at the same time wish to compliment the sages, there being nothing but virtue to attract the phoenix and unicorn. This statement is untenable." 1


Small wonder that such imagery was popular among local scholars. Phoenixes and unicorns, like recluse scholars, bear witness to a ruler's virtue by

22 67.2212. 12 Much of the best work in Han art history has focused on the engravings of particular regions, e.g., Hsio-yen Shih, "Han Stone Reliefs from Shensi Province," A r c h i v e s of the Chinese A r t Society of A m e r i c a 14 (i960), 49-64; Hsio-yen Shih, "I-nan and Related Tombs," A r t i b u s A s i a e 22 (1959), 277-312; Richard C. Rudolph, "H an Dynasty Reliefs from Nanyang," O r i e n t a l A r t 24 (Summer 1978), 179-184; Wen You, S i c h u a n h a n d a i h u a x i a n g x u a n j i (Beijing, 1956); and Richard C. Rudolph and Wen You, H a n Tomb A r t of West C h i n a (Los Angeles, 1951). Published rubbings of engravings from Nanyang are extremely rare in unambiguous references to Confucian subject matter. There are three candidates one might consider as illustrations of heavenly omens, all of which seem to be early Latter Han in date and one of which is dated to the reign of the Confucian enthusiast Wang Mang. See Shan Xiushan, Chen Jihai, and Wang Rulin , N a n y a n g h a n d a i h u a x i a n g shike (Shanghai, n.d.),figs.57,58, and 67. 6 l 8 i




13 For a discussion of the moral dimension of the Queen of Immortals' paradise in northeast China, see M . J. Powers, "Hybrid Omens," 12-16. 14 Zhu Xilu , W u l a o w a , 74. 15 Prof. Wu Hun g of Harvard University and I have discussed a number of surviving Han inscriptions, including this brief identification at Wulaowa. Some years ago Wu Hun g expressed doubts about this inscription, pointing to a similar scene with an inscription reading "the Kin g of Q i," illustrated in Chavannes, M i s s i o n , Atlas, no. 151. At that time Wu Hun g was skeptical about both inscriptions. I share his doubts about the "kin g of Q i " inscription mainly because I doubt the stone itself. The figures are in the manner of the early Jiaxiang school, but the ground, to judge from Chavannes's reproduction (I did not see this stone while in Shandong in 1981), appears to have been chipped out in a fashion quite common in late Han timesbut undocumented for the first century and otherwise unknown in Jiaxiang school engravings. Also, the workmanship looks coarse for this school, even in reproduction. The Wulaowa stones, however, were excavated and, given the otherwise normal appearance of the engravings, I see no reason to doubt the inscription. 16 17 18 19

Chavannes, M i s s i o n , Atlas, no. 106. Ibid., II: no. 1193. LH, 23.100; Forke, L292. Hayashi, "Kan dai," 251-252.

20 Legge, Classics,

IV: 67.

21 Ibid., 1V:42. 22 LH, 9.29; Forke, 1:174. 23 Legge, Classics, 111:31-32. 24 WX, 1.5, 7, n ; Knechtges, 105,119,135,139. 25 WX, 1.19, 21-23; Knechtges, 163,169-170, 173-175. 26 Hans Bielenstein, "Loyang in Latter H an Times," B u l l e t i n of the M u s e u m of F a r E a s t e r n A n t i q u i t i e s 48 (1976), 47—48. 27 WX, 2.26, 28; Knechtges, 183,189. 28 WX, 3.52, 54; Knechtges, 255, 261. 29 WX, 3.54; Knechtges, 261. 30 WX, 3.58; Knechtges, 269. 31 Michael W. Levine and Jeremy M . Shefner, F u n d a m e n t a l s of Sensation a n d Perception (Reading, 1981), 222, 227. 32 L i j i , 58.32b. 33 Hayashi Minao, "Sengoku," 7-14. Legge, Classics, L209. 34 For an account of traditional notions about hidden meanings in the S p r i n g a n d A u t u m n A n n a l s , see Legge, Classics, V: 1-16. For Han attitudes toward the text, see Tjan, Po-Hu-T'ung, L98-100. 35 Legge, Classics,

V: 64.

36 LH, 30.450; Forke, 1:70-71. 37 Li Falin, Shandong, 105—106. 38 WX, 3.60; Knechtges, 277.


398 Chapter



Themes as



1 Bielenstein, "Wang Man g," 274. 2 Kenneth Burke, A R h e t o r i c of M o t i v e s (New York, 1950), 50; Lloyd F. Bitzer, "The Rhetorical Situation," Philosophy a n d Rhetoric 1, no. 1 (Winter 1968), 4-6. 3 Cho-yiin Hsu, "Fall of the Han," 183. 4 HNZ, 19.19a; Morgan, 234-235. 5 O n the reform in taxes, see Derk Bodde, T h e State and Empire of Ch 'in ," in Twitchett and Loewe, C a m b r i d g e , 27—28. For public relief measures, see, in the same volume, Patricia Ebrey, 'Th e Economic and Social History of Later H an ," 618-621. 6 Hans Bielenstein, 'Th e Institutions of Later Han," in Twitchett and Loewe, C a m 498-499. bridge, 7 For the H an system of noble ranks, see Michael Loewe, T h e Orders of Aristocratic Rank of Han China," T ' o u n g P a o 48, nos. 1-3 (i960), 97-174. 8 Cited in Rafe de Crespigny, Portents of Protest i n the L a t e r H a n D y n a s t y : T h e M e m o rials of H s i a n g K ' a i to E m p e r o r H u a n (Canberra, 1976), 23-24. For an introduction to Han law, see Hulsewe', "Ch 'in and H an Law," 520-544. 9 Bielenstein mentions one entry stating that literary scholars (wenxue) "visited subordinate prefectures and scanned the legal records for miscarriages of justice." This was in addition to other officials whose duty it was to inquire whether criminal cases had 94, 96. been conducted fairly. Bielenstein, Bureaucracy, 10 HHS, 1B.57. 11 Legge, Classics, IL419-420. 12 For more on the Han dynasty mandate theory, see Michael Loewe, T h e Concept of Sovereignty," in C a m b r i d g e , 726-735. 13 Legge, Classics, 11:384, 475. 14 T T L , 16.37-38; Gale, 103-104. 15 T T L , 20.46; Gale, 167. , 16 TTL, 24.55; Gale, 185. 17 T T L , 7.16; Gale, 44. 18 T T L , 27.61; Gale, 198. 19 TTL, 23.53; Gale 180-181. 20 LH, 29.443; Forke, 1:86. 21 LH, 29.443; Forke, 1:87-88. 22 See Powers, "Western H an Tomb," 282. 23 Sima Qian, S h i j i , 6.248. 24 Judy Lai, when a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, made this argument in a paper entided "Narrative Scenes in Latter Han Shandong Reliefs" in 1986. 25 T T L , 24.55; Gale, 185. 26 Sima Qian, S h i j i , 47.1909. It has been suggested that the S h i j i as a text may not have been in circulation during the time of concern to us. See A. F. P. Hulsewe', "The

N O T E S T O P A G E S 20 4-214

39 9

Problems of Authenticity of Shih Chi, Ch. 123, the Memoir of Ta Yuan," T o u n g P a o 61, nos. 1-3 (1975), 83-147. Historical reviews such as this, however, do not take into account the strong evidence from Han stones that Sima Qian's texts were known and studied (Wu Rong's inscription, for instance, says that he studied the Shi j i ) . Wu Hun g argues, on the contrary, that "the Wu Liang Ci cartouches f demonstrate] a direct relationship between these cartouches and the S h i j i . " See Wu Hun g, Wu Liang,


27 Sima Qian, S h i j i , 71.2319. 28 HNZ, 19.24a; Morgan, 238.



Classical Themes as


1 For an account of these events and the issues they raised, see Michael Loewe, "The Conduct of Government," 291-316. 2 For an account of these events, see Chi-yun Chen, H s i i n T i i e h , 40-58. 3 For stones illustrating the story of Kin g Cheng and the duke of Zhou, see Fu Xihua, H a n d a i h u a x i a n g q u a n j i , 2 vols. (Beijing, 1951), 1:4, 1:160,1:171,1:214, U 9 ; Zeng Zhaoyu, T i ' n a n g u h u a x i a n g s h i m u f a j u e baogao (Shanghai, 1956),fig.43; Chavannes, M i s s i o n , no. 1218; Bertold Laufer, Chinese G r a v e Sculptures of the H a n Period (New York, 1911), pis. VI and VII. For the stone from Songshan, see Jean M . James, "Some Recently Discovered Late Han Reliefs," O r i e n t a l A r t 26, no. 2 (Summer 1980), 7-11. 4 HHS, 7.295. 5 H H S , 7.305; Chen, H s i i n T i i e h , 10. 6 Wu Hun g assigns this stone to the fourth shrine. See Wu H u n g, W u L i a n g , 18-24. 7 Rong Geng, H a n w u l u m g ci h u a x i a n g l u (Beiping, 1936), 25b-26a. 8 Rong Geng, H a n w u l i a n g , 25b—26a. 9 Loewe, "Conduct of Government," 307-312. For an account of Emperor Huan's ascension to the throne and his domination by the Liangs, see Chen, H s i i n T i i e h , 10; for Li Gu's martyrdom, see HHS, 63.2083—2088. 10 HHS, 7.291. 11 Chen, H s i i n T i i e h , 22, 26; B. J. Mansvelt Beck, "The Fall of Han," in C a m b r i d g e , 317-323. 12 Translation by Bertold Laufer, "Confucius and His Portraits," Open C o u r t 26, no. 3 (March 1912), 154. Laufer points out that the metaphor of crossing the river at the end of the hermit's speech to Confucius is a reference to the Book of Songs. Laufer interpreted its meaning in keeping with the standard commentary to that passage, which is that "the sage remains in seclusion or shows himself in public according to circumstances." This is consistent with the passage in the A n a l e c t s preceding the hermit episode, where the gatekeeper proposes to Zi Lu that the times are not propitious for public service. Laufer, "Confucius," 154. 13 Legge, Classics, 1:290. 14 This is a suggestion only. The "bear" insignia, like the "tiger" insignia, was used in ;





military banners and titles for various elite units, presumably, because these animals were renowned for their bravery and ferocity. 15 Ron g Geng, H a n w u l i a n g , 25; Xu Gan, Z h o n g l u n , in H a n wei congshu, comp. H e Tang (active mix-sixteeth century), (Taipei, 1970), 1:14a. 16 Legge, Classics,


17 Ibid., 1:332-333. For Li Chi's assessment of recluses such as the Madman of Chu, see Li Ch i, 'Th e Recluse in Chinese Literature," H a r v a r d J o u r n a l of A s i a t i c Studies 24 (1962—1963), 23 5—23 8. See also Aat Vervoon's excellent study "E r e m i t i s m i n C h i n a to 220 A . D . , " Ph.D diss., Australian National University, 1984, esp. chap. 3. 18 Legge, Classics,

19 20 21 22 23

24 25 26 27 28


Ibid., L334. Ibid., 1:335—336. Rong Geng, H a n w u l i a n g , 24b-25a. See Peter Brown, 'Th e Saint as Exemplar in Late Antiquity," Representations 1, no. 2 (1983), 1-25. Ralph Waldo Emerson, 'Th e Transcendentalist," in T h e Portable Emerson (New York, 1984), 99-100. Any sinologist is likely to find numerous similarities between the thought of Emerson and that of various Chinese thinkers. Although Emerson was familiar with some Confucian classics, I prefer to think of these similarities as examples of convergence rather than influence. Emerson's "Reciprocity," for instance, reminds one strongly of Daoist thinking, but Emerson wrote this essay before he would have had access to translations of Daoist classics. HHS, 67.2185. See also Vervoon, "Eremitism," 195—203. HHS, 81.2669—2670. O n Gongsun Shu, see also Bielenstein, "Wan gMan g," 254— 256. HHS, 83.2763—2764. O n Guangwu's astute treatment of recluses, see Vervoon, "Eremitism," 201—202. HHS, 63:2080-81. HHS, 4.178, 5.206, 6.272,6.275,7.289,7.299,7.314. The historian illustrates the extent of the influence of respected literati on the anti-eunuch movement throughout H H S , J u a n 67. Many of the men whose biographies are recorded there, such as Liu Shu (HHS, 67.2190), were recluses who eventually took office.



Omens as


1 LH, 28.135; Forke L392. 2 LH, 51.263; Forke, 11:306. 3 LH, 52.267; Forke 11:315. 4 HHS, 1B.59, 69, 82-83. 5 HHS, 2.109, H 4 > i " , 3149, 5-1386 Li H a n s a n , X i a n q i n l i a n g h a n z h i y i n y a n g w u x i n g x u e s h u o (Taipei, 1964), 134—137; Pi X k u i , J i n g x u e lishi (Hong Kong, 1973), 104-110; Jack L. Du ll, "A Historical Introduction to the Apocryphal (Ch'an-wei) Texts of the Han Dynasty," Ph.D. diss.


7 8 9

10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18





(University of Washington, 1966), 49-50. For an account of Wang Mang's use of omens, see Wm. Theodore de Bary, Wing-tsit Chan, and Burton Watson, comps., Sources of Chinese T r a d i t i o n , 2 vols. (New York, i960), I:i8o—182. LH, 48.249; Forke 11:357. LH, 84.442; Forke 1:85. For Dong's ideas about the five modes, see Hou Wailu, Z h o n g g u o s i x m n g tongshi, 6 vols. (Beijing, 1957), 2:99-100; Ku n g-ch u an H siao ^ H t yr ^ ^ Po / if^ T^ o M^ f, trans. F. W. Mote (Princeton, 1979), 484—503. C Q F L , 70.340. C Q F L , 76.356-366. C Q F L , 58.297-301. C Q F L , 6.75-78. For a discussion of the theory of "subtle meanings," see Hsiao, Political Thought, 527-530. Tja n , T ' u n g , L118—119. On the New Text/ Old Text controversy, see Tjan, P o H u T u n g , L128-165; on the apocryphal books, see 1:100—128. Bielenstein, "Wang Man g," 230—231. For the impact of the study of apocryphal books on Latter Han art, see Powers, Shapes of Power, 153-160. For Wu Liang and the New Text school, see Wu Hun g, W u L i a n g , 96—107. Han Ying (second century B . C . ) , H a n shi w a i z h u a n , compiled and annotated by Xu Weiyu (Beijing, 1980), 8.277; Sima Qian, S h i j i , 47.1933. Legge, Classics, IV:493.

20 21 M a o s h i z h u s u , 17:16b. 22 From the D o n g g u a n h a n j i , cited in C h u x u e j i , 30:725. 23 Emperor Ming's consultation of apocryphal books is described in HHS, zhi 7:3158, 3163, 3165, 3166. 24 The "Omens" chapter contains portions of older texts, for instance, Ban Biao's essay on sovereignty. S e e S o n g s h u , . Shen Yue (441-513) (Beijing, 1974), 27.772 . I am grateful to Michael Loewe for the reference to Ban Biao's essay. For the original essay, see H S , 100A.4207—4212. For a translation, see De Bary et al., Sources of Chinese T r a d i t i o n , L176—180. The omens chapter also contains portions of x h c H a n shi w a i z h u a n ; see note 25 below. The nineteenth-century scholars Feng Yunpeng and Feng Yunyuan were able to compare every omen at the Wu shrines with passages from the Liu-Song history. In some cases the passages are identical; in others certain corruptions can be identified. In general the history makes more sense, its author having been more literate perhaps than the artists who built the Wu shrines. See Ji n s h i s u o , 2 vols. (1821; repr. Taipei, 1974), 2:1477—1500. 25 H a n s h i , 8.277; S o n g s h u , 28.792—793. 26 Song shu, 28.792—793.

27 Ibid., 28.793. 28 Ibid., 28.795.

N O T E S T O P A G E S 243-258


29 Y i w e n leiju, 92.1591-92. 30 Legge, Classics, I V : 3 i 6 ; M a o s h i , 12:10b. 31 S o n g s h u , 28.813, 839, 841.

Chapter I X

Omens as Criticism

1 Ji n s h i s u o , 2:1488. 2 Powers, "H ybrid Omens," 2-6, z x - z j \ ; J i n s h i s u o , 2:1491,1492, 1494. 3 Ji n s h i s u o , 2:1478. 4 Sima Qian, S h i j i , 47.1926; Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang, trans., Records of the Historian (Hong Kong, 1974), 14. 5 In his commentary on the Chinese unicorn in the E r y a , Hao Yixing (active early nineteenth century) cites the Latter Han commentator He Xiu as follows: "[The unicorn] in form is like a deer. [It has] one horn, but [the horn] carries flesh [at the tip]. [This is to say that] it is prepared for battle but does not intend to harm [anyone]. For this reason it is said to be benevolent." E r y a (late Zhou with early Han editing), Hao Yixing, comp. (Taipei, 1973), 6:1303. 6 Ji n s h i s u o , 2:1483. 7 Ibid., 2:1498. 8 HHS, 7.289-291. 9 The entire affair is translated and recounted in Ch'u, Social S t r u c t u r e , 472—474. 10 O n Fu Xi and Nu Wa, see Cheng Te-k'un, "Yin Yang"; on Fu Xi and Nu Wa as sages, see Wu H u n g, Wu Liang, 156-161, 245-248. 11 Powers, "Hybrid Omens," 17-23. 12 HHS, 1B.50, 52. 13 Translation by Tjan Tjoe Som, P o H u T ' u n g , L241. 14 HHS, 3.133, 3.139, 4.178. 15 HHS, 63:2073-2074. 16 Q F L ,


17 Michael Loewe, 'Th e Failure of the Confucian Ethic in Later Han Times," in Festschrift f o r Professor T i l e m a n G r i m m (forthcoming), 13-16; L H , 24.372; Forke, I:i88—189. Hans Bielenstein, "An Interpretation of Portents in the Ts'ien Han Shu," B u l l e t i n of the M u s e u m of F a r E a s t e r n A n t i q u i t i e s 22 {1950), 138-141. 18 Despite the widespread use of omens, it is by no means the case that all Han scholars "believed" that omens really existed. For a discussion of this problem, see Michael Loewe, 'Th e Religious and Intellectual Background," in Twitchett and Loewe, C a m b r i a g e , 678—682. O n the use of omens to sway public opinion, see Powers, "Hybrid Omens," 7—12, 24; on the popularity of omen images, see Wu Hun g, Wu Liang,



2:1485,1487,1494,1496. My translation for the hybrid fish follows the text of the S o n g s h u . The text for the hybrid fish at the Wu shrines makes little sense: 'Th e hybrid fish appears when the king protects both the obscure and the bright." The character translated "obscure" here also means "remote," and in the S o n g shu

Ji n s h i s u o ,




precedes the character for "retired scholars," in which position it is somewhat redundant. However, taking the Wu shrine text as it is, and interpreting the passage in light of mid-century politics, the character "obscure" would still have to be read as a reference ro unrecognized worthies. For complete translations and transcription of the omen images on Wu Liang's ceiling, see Wu H u n g, W u L i a n g , 23 5-245. 20 HHS, 7.291. 21 HHS, 7.292-293. 22 HHS, 7.293. 23 HHS, 7.296-297; Fairbank, "Offering Shrines," 83. 24 Ji n s h i s u o , 2:1480,1488. 25 Ibid., 11:1477; S o n g s h u , 29.863. 26 For a good account of the dissatisfaction of provincial scholars with court cliques and the beginnings of the "pure criticism" movement, see Chi-yun Chen, H s i i n Y t i e h , 10—22. 27 HHS, 7.288. 28 HHS, 7.288. 29 HHS, 63.2080, 2082. 30 Ji n s h i s u o , 11:1487; S o n g shu, 28.803. 31 HHS, 54.1761. 32 HHS, 39130733 O n the "pure" movement, see Chi-yun Chen, H s i i n T i i e h , 21-30, 67. 34 O n the use of omen imagery in Former Han art, see Wu H u n g, "San-pan shan." 35 S o n g s h u , 28.802. For more on the Helingol tomb, see Fontein and Wu, H a n a n d T a n g ; Annaliese Bulling, 'Th e Eastern Han Tomb at Ho-lin-ko-erh," A r c h i v e s of A s i a n A r t 31 (1977-1978), 79-103. 36 S o n g s h u , 29.867. 37 On me aesmeticsofflavor in early China, see Kenneth J. DeWoskin, Sw^, 159-160. 3 8 For example, Jean M . James, "Some Recently Discovered Late Han Reliefs," O r i e n tal A r t 26, no. 2 (Summer 1980), 190. 39 In W u L i a n g , 134—140, Wu H u n g has suggested that the Queen of Immortals' en face image might have been derived from Buddhist prototypes. This is certainly a possibility. My own feeling, however, is that the need for a royal personage in heaven to parallel royal personages on earth, such as Kin g Cheng, was probably the most important factor in the development of this image. 40 S o n g s h u , 29.863. 41 Ibid., 29.841. 42 Ibid., 28.803. 43 Jean M . James, "An Iconographic Study of Two Late Han Funerary Monuments: The Offering Shrines of the Wu Family and the Multichamber Tomb of Holin gor," (Ph.D. diss., University of Iowa, 1983), 335-336. 44 Li Falin, Shandong,


4 5 Bernard Karlgren, "Early Chinese Mirror Inscriptions," B u l l e t i n ofthe M u s e u m of F a r E a s t e r n A n t i q u i t i e s no. 167 (1934), 9-79. In his study of mirror iconography,




Hayashi Minao cites a fragment of a Han architectural treatise which adds a moral and political dimension to the four guardians that is not immediately evident from mirror inscriptions: 'Th e Green Dragon and White Tiger, the Red Bird and Dark Warrior, are the Four Spirits of Heaven, by which the four quarters are rectified. When the king establishes regulations for the palaces, towers, halls and pavilions, he takes his model from them [the Four Spirits]." One might expect this moral dimension to play a greater role in public monuments like funerary shrines. Mirrors were for private use, and need not be supposed to have carried this added dimension. Hayashi's point, however, was that the Four Spirits were meant to rectify the four quarters. See his "Kankyo no tobyo n i san n i tsuite," Toho G a k u h o 44 (February 1973), 18. 46 Karlgren, "Mirror Inscriptions," 50—51. Hayashi, "Kankyo," z i , notes that the lion originated in a country west of China, and suggests that it may be for this reason that it sometimes occurs together with the White Tiger, guardian of the West. In another inscription translated by Karlgren (no. 198), the lion and the P i x i e ("evil-expeller") "play together wtih Wang-fu [Tung-wang-fu] and Wang-mu ([Si-wan g-m u])...." The Pixie was a guardian deity, while the two immortals were felicitous, so it is difficult to determine which category was considered appropriate to the lion. Since the context here is play, however, it would seem that the felicitous element took priority over the apotropaic element. In yet another inscription (no. 119), it appears together with guardian deities. The lion seems to have been more flexible in its cosmic functions than some other deities, such as the White Tiger. 47 S h a n h a i j i n g , 397, 222.

48 On the notion of music and cosmic harmony, see DeWoskin, S o n g , 159, 177. 49 Cai Yong, "Qin fu," i n H a n wei liuchao b a i s a n j i a j i , ed. Zhang Pu (1602—1641), 6 vols. (Taipei, 1976), 532—533. For the association between the phoenix and cosmic harmony, see DeWoskin, S o n g , 34, 59-60, 139,146-147,165-166. 50 Li Falin , Shandong,


51 Karlgren, "Mirror Inscriptions," no. 178. 52 Ibid., nos. 145,164, 142. 53 Ibid., nos. 185,177. For a detailed discussion of carriages as emblems of status, see Hayashi Minao, "Gokan jidai no shaba gyoretsu," Toho G a k u h o 37 (March 1966), 190,193.

Chapter X

Tombs of the Descriptive


and Their


1 Translation based upon Nancy Swann, trans., Food a n d M o n e y i n A n c i e n t C h i n a : T h e E a r l i e s t Economic History of C h i n a to A . D . 25 (Princeton, 1950), 166. 2 LH, 12.189,193; Forke II:6o, 70. 3 T T L , 9.20; Gale, 56. 4 In the 1960s Annaliese Bulling advanced the theory that Han engravings were made to illustrate dramatic renderings of classical stories. Although the theory has not




been accepted, it does demonstrate that Shandong engravings are not easily interpreted as direct illustrations of real life. See A. Bulling, "Historical Plays," 20—38. 5 The seven monuments are: Dahuting tomb 1, Dahuting tomb 2, Houshiguo tomb 1, Houshiguo tomb 2, Houshiguo tomb 3, Dongyuancun tomb 2, and the Zhu Wei shrine. The Houshiguo tombs have not been published to date to my knowledge. Other published tombs may indeed belong to the same group, but I have left them out because the affiliation is not unambiguous. One of these is a tomb at Zhucheng in which the method of engraving as well as pictorial style very much resemble the work at Dahuting 1, but the structure of the tomb and several details of iconography differ considerably from the tombs listed above. See Ren Rixin , "Shandong Zhucheng han mu huaxiang shi," W e n w u , October 1981, 14-24. 6 For information on the Dahuting tombs, see An Jinhuai and Wang Yugang, "Mixian dahuting handai huaxiangshi mu he bihua mu," W e n w u , October 1972,49—50; Jan Fontein and Wu Tung, H a n a n d T a n g M u r a l s (Boston, 1976), 50—53. Together with my wife, Amy, I spent three days visiting the two tombs at Dahuting and three others at nearby Houshiguo in early spring 1981. In China no scholar, native or otherwise, is allowed to photograph unpublished materials, and so we photographed only those walls that had appeared in Chinese journals up to that point. Therefore, the descriptions of the mural schemes of each room presented here are based upon detailed notes taken at that time. Here I should like to express my gratitude to the archaeological team of M i County, and in particular Mr. Wei, for his courtesy and kind help during our brief stay there. For information on the Cao clan tombs, see Li Can, "Boxian cao cao zongzu muzang, " W e n w u , August 1978, 32— 45. See also Li Can, "Anhui boxian faxian yipi handai zizhuan he shike," W e n w u ziliao congkan 2 (1978), 142-175; Li Can, "Lue tan caoshi yuan mu 74 hao zi zhuan," W e n w u , December 1981,68-70; Tian Changwu, "Tan 'dui cao cao zongzu muzhuan ming di vidian kanfa' you gan," W e n w u , December 1981, 71—73. 7 For a review of engraving styles in Shandong stones, see Li Falin, S h a n d o n g , chap. 6. 8 In 19 81, when my wife and I visited the three tombs at Houshiguo, the paintings on stone capitals and pillars were still like new. O n the walls much of the plaster had fallen away, but where the plaster remained, the paint was still bright and clear. Photography was restricted. The structure of these tombs is very similar to Dahuting tomb 2. The cloud patterns and spirit figurescould have been from the same hand as those in Dahuting 1, although the subject matter seemed more varied. The local archaeological team assumed that these tombs were by the same shop that built the Dahuting tombs. 9 QFL, 1.17; see also 12.123, 3710 HHS, 10B.438. Lien-sheng.Yang, "Great Families," 131, notes that "in general, the empress' families were already great families." To a lesser extent this must have been true of most of the ladies of the harem. Bielenstein, Bureaucracy, 63, says that the harem was made up of the 'Virgin daughters of blameless families" from the vicinity of the capital. 12 I




11 HHS, 59.2293. For a discussion of imperial relatives in H an tim es,see Tung-tsu Ch'u, H a n Social S t r u c t u r e , 165—174. 12 HHS, 42.1424-1426. 13 HHS, 42.1427. 14 HHS, 42.1431—1432. 15 HHS, 42.1432. 16 HHS, 42.1433-1441. 17 HHS, 42.1451. 18 Michael Loewe, "Conduct of Government," 294-316. For details on the eunuchs, see Ulrike Jugel, Politische

F u n k t i o n u n d Soziale

St e llu n g d e r Eu n u c h e n z u r


(Wiesbaden, 1976), 98-99. In this authoritative study, Jugel suggests that the stereotype of the evil eunuch in the Chinese histories is based largely on misconceptions compounded by the biases of scholars toward mutilated men; see especially pp. 88—98. Jugel's discussions of eunuch class origins, education, and so on are a useful check on the largely anti-eunuch tone of the histories. Still, it would be a mistake to view the historical account of eunuch activities as entirely the product of bias, as one might view traditional accounts, for instance, of women. That the historian treats eunuchs of a Confucian persuasion the same as other Confucian scholars suggests that the behavior of eunuchs was not thought to be a direct product of their sexual condition. More likely, they were viewed with suspicion because many of them were willing to mutilate themselves for no apparent reason other than access to court circles, much the way merchants were viewed with suspicion because of their attachment to material wealth. In any case, our recognition that the sexual status of eunuchs did not make them evil does not require us to ignore other aspects of their status that made them prone to mischief, namely, the fact that their authority was not subject to the same checks and reviews as other bureaucrats. Such checks did not guarantee responsible behavior among bureaucrats, but, by and large, kept officials within certain bounds. Recent as well as ancient history provides numerous examples of what people do with power when that power remains unchecked. In the end it is this that separated the eunuchs from the scholars, and a close reading of the histories suggests that the scholars knew this.

H a n Zeit

19 On the growing influence of eunuchs in the court, see Bielenstein, Bureaucracy, 49, 57-5820 Ibid., 43-46, 55, 58-59. 21 Ibid., 63, 65. 22 HHS, 78.2508—2509. See also Rate de Crespigny, 'Th e Harem of Emperor Huan: A Study of Court Politics in Later Han," Papers on F a r E a s t e r n History 12 (September 1975), 1-4223 Rate de Crespigny, "Political Protest in Imperial Ghina: The Great Proscription of Later Han," Papers on F a r E a s t e r n History n (March 1975), 3-15. 24 Lien-sheng Yang, "Great Families," 133. 25 Ch'u, Social S t r u c t u r e , 491; de Crespigny, "Protest," 7; Jugel, E u n u c h e n , 94-98. 26 De Crespigny, Portents,

y , H H S , 67.2212.


27 Ch 'ii, Social Structure,




28 De Crespigny, Portents, 29; Li Jiannong, Ji n g j i , 217. 29 HHS, 78.2521-2523; dc Crespigny, "Protest," 8-10. 30 H H S , 78.2521; Ch 'ii, Social S t r u c t u r e , 478. 31 Jugel, Eunuchen,

106-107; Bielenstein, Bureaucracy,

51, 64.

32 Bielenstein, Bureaucracy, 51—52, 63—65; H H S , 78.2508—2509. There are some ambiguities surrounding the history of the prefect of the complete workshop. Bielenstein (Bureaucracy, 37, 38, and 51) notes that this office was transferred from the charge of the privy treasurer to that of the grand coachman in the Latter Han. This administrative change was accompanied by changes in production favoring the making of military implements. H e notes further, however, that it later became the practice to appoint eunuch inspectors to this office: "[This] means that the office was again partially withdrawn from the authority of the grand coachman." It seems conceivable that the prefect of the complete workshop might have changed its production patterns after it once again gained some independence from the grand coachman. Eunuch inspectors were part of a general trend whereby the eunuchs attempted to influence the operations of a number of central government offices. According to Bielenstein (p. 67), the expansion of eunuch power in this fashion began during the reign of Emperor Zhang (76-88), thus preparing the way for the expansion of the prefect of the complete workshop and other offices under eunuch control a decade or so later. Other offices that abandoned the frugal policies of the early emperors included those concerned with equine affairs: "In short, the Latter Han dynasty may have started with a frugal attitude toward horses and stables, but it ended on a different note." Bureaucracy, 37. We might say the same in the area of court art. 33 34 35 36 37 38

HHS, 78.2521,zto'26.3594,19.718,24.1174, 34.1177H H S , 78.2523; Ch 'ii, Social S t r u c t u r e , 481-482. HHS, 78.2530. Bielenstein, Bureaucracy, 36-37, 46, 67. HHS, 8.345, 78.2528-2529, 78.2532. Pottery models of private granaries are not uncommon among the burial objects in Eastern Han tombs, of course, and representations of granaries are known from Helingol and possibly Yi'nan. Jan Fontein and Wu Tung, H a n a n d T a n g M u r a l s (Boston, 1976), 46-49. Zeng Zhaoyu et al., Y i ' n a n g u h u a x i a n g s h i m u f a j u e baogao (Beijing, 1956), 20-21. 39 Sun Zuoyun, "Henan mixian dahuting donghan huaxiangshi mu diaoxiang kaoshi," K a i f e n g s h i y u a n x u e b a o , March 1978, 63, agrees with An Jinhuai that this is likely to be an image of the host's son at play. At the same time, it is likely to resurrect for many scholars thoughts of the "Fusang" tree and the archer shooting the corvine sun birds, especially as this scene is on the south wall of the chamber. In the absence of any other unambiguous references to mythical subject matter in the tomb, however, it may be best to lean toward a mundane interpretation here. Indeed, the whole question of the Fusang tree seems open for review, in view of the fact that a tree with




two archers beneath it was found painted at Helingol with an inscription identifying it as a "cassia tree." But for the inscription, this tree, too, could have been identified as a "Fusang" tree. See Wilma Fairbank, "Offering Shrines," 85-86; Fontein and Wu, M u r a l s , 35.

40 An and Wang, "Dahuting," 53. 41 Lien-sheng Yang, "Great Families," 122-123. 42 For an analysis of this process, see Yii Ying-shih, "Donghan zhengquan zhi jianli yii dazu daxing zhi guanxi," X i n y a x u e b a o 1, no. 2 (1956), 214; Lien-sheng Yang, "Great Families," 118-119. On the nature of the land tenure system in Han times, see Michael Loewe, E v e r y d a y Life i n H a n C h i n a (London, 1968), 165-167. 43 Patricia Ebrey, "Estate and Family Management," 199, 201. Lien-sheng Yang, "Great Families," 118-119. 44 LH, 25.385; Forke, 532. 45 Sumptuary regulations for carriages and burial are listed in HHS, 6.3152. 46 I have seen an image of a manure collector on a rubbing from Teng County in the collection of the Central Institute of Fine Arts in Beijing. Thisfigure was executed in the two-dimensional fashion typical of that region; not at all in the manner of the Dahuting tombs. 47 C Q F L , 77-37448 Sun Zuoyun, "Mixian ," 62. Yii Yingshi, following An Jinhuai's report, treated the figures in this scene as men in his study of Han seating etiquette. The gender of these figures affects his argument very little, but it is significant for us. See An Jinhuai and Wang Yugang, "Dahuting," 54; Yii Ying-shi, "The Seating Order at the Hun g Men Banquet," in T h e Translation of T h i n g s P a s t (Hong Kon g, 1982), 55—56. Shen C^ngwcn,mZhongguogudaifitshiyanjiu (Hong Kong, 1981), 101, identifies these figures correcdy as women with pins in their elaborate coiffures. 49 HHS, 4.197-198. 50 HHS, 30B.1061—1062. 51 HHS, 78.2529. 52 Bielenstein, Bureaucracy, 63-64. 53 H H S , 78.2519; Bielenstein, Bureaucracy, 63, 70. High-ranking officials had the prerogative to appoint brothers or sons to office, but even these appointees were normally tested for competence. The eunuchs were accused of placing relatives in office despite their incompetence. HHS, 78.2521-2522, lists some of the brothers of the "five marquis," who were placed in office by their eunuch relatives, wreaking havoc in the areas under their charge. Cao Teng, who was a marquis and a contemporary of the "five marquis," is not mentioned in this list of crimes, but elsewhere we learn that his brother, too, occupied an important office and had been charged with criminal activities. Cao Teng pulled strings among influential friends in the capital in an attempt to get his brother out of trouble. It was just such abuse of power that enraged the scholars most. H H S , 67.2209; Bielenstein, Bureaucracy, 132—133. 54 Li Can, "Cao cao," 32-36, 38-39.




5 5 For the date of the Teng County stone, see Jiang Yingju, S h a n d o n g , 29; for the date of the Maocun tomb, see Zhang Daoyi, X u z h o u , no. 51. 56 Li Can, "Anhui boxian," 142. 57 This account of the events leading to the fall of the Han empire relies heavily upon that of Chen Chi-yun in H s t i n T i i e h , 34—47. 58 For Cao Song's unhappy fate, see HHS, 73.2367, 78.2519.

Chapter X I 1 2 3 4 5 6

Conflicts of Taste

HHS, 79A.2549-2565; 79B.2573-2578. LH, 30.447; Forke, 1:65. See also Ebrey, "Social History,'' 633-634. HHS, 79A.2555-2556, 2549-2550. HHS, 79A.2552-2553; 79B.2580-2581. Chavannes, M i s s i o n , no. 1193; Wu H u n g, W u L i a n g , 97. Chavannes, M i s s i o n , no. 1196. For a comparison of biographies in the histories and local inscriptions see Hans Bielenstein, "Later Han Inscriptions and Dynastic Biographies: A Historiographical Comparison," in Proceedings of the I n t e r n a t i o n a l C o n a n d Archaeology (Taipei, 1981), 571—586. ference on Sinology, Section on History

7 Ch 'ii, Social Structure,

8 9 10 11 12 13 14

15 16


18 19 20 21


HHS, 79A.2547. H H S , 39.1307; 79A.2547; Ch 'ii, Social S t r u c t u r e , 4 6 4 - 4 6 6 . HHS, 54.1761,1767-1768. HHS, 63.2073-2075. HHS, 79A.2547; de Crespigny, "Protest," 16—17. De Crespigny, "Protest," 18. HHS, 67.2185-2186. O n the development of political criticism during the Latter Han, see Chen, H s i i n T i i e h , 18-37; Loewe, 'Th e Conduct of Government"; Ebrey, "Social History," 633-635. HHS, 79A.2547; de Crespigny, "Protest," 18. HHS, 43.1470—1471; This was not the first demonstration. As early as the end of the first century B . C . , students had protested the arrest of a popular official. See Choyiin Hsu, "Fall of the Han," 181-182; Rate de Crespigny, "Politics and Philosophy under Emperor Huan, 159-168 A . D . , " T ' o u n g P a o 6 6 , nos. 1-3 (1980), 45-46. This is not a literal translation. The text is actually couched in various classical references. For example, I rendered a particular list of sages simply as "sage kings." If I were to translate all these names, unfamiliar to most readers, the text would lose much of its force. HHS, 43.1470-1471; de Crespigny, "Politics," 41-83, 56-58. Ch 'ii, Social S t r u c t u r e , 476—479. HHS, 67.2212, 2286. HHS, 79A.2551-2552; 79B.2573-2574.



22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48

C h e n , H s i i n Yiieh,


21-23; de Crespigny, "Protest," 20; de Crespigny, "Politics," 49,

58-60. H H S , 65.2135; Ch 'ii, Social S t r u c t u r e , 242; 480-481. HHS, 65.2135; de Crespigny, "Politics," 57; de Crespigny, "Protest," 10 - n , 20. Ch 'ii, Social S t r u c t u r e , 480-481; de Crespigny, "Protest," 11-12. De Crespigny, "Protest," 20. Chen, H s i i n Y i i e h , 23. For more on the growing cohesiveness among Latter Han scholars, see Ebrey, "Social History," 643-648. Chen, H s i i n Y i i e h , 24. De Crespigny, "Protest," 24-27; de Crespigny, "Politics," 59. HHS, 67.2187; de Crespigny, "Protest," 12-13. De Crespigny, "Politics," 57-59. Ch 'ii, Social S t r u c t u r e , 484-490. De Crespigny, "Protest," 26. De Crespigny, "Politics," 59. H H S , 78.2523; Ch 'ii Social S t r u c t u r e , 481. Cited in Shen Congwen, F u s h i y a n j i u , 93-94. Fairbank, "Structural Key," 127-129. O n the Hongdu Academy, see Mansvelt-Beck, "The Fall of H an ," 333. Jugel, E u n u c h e n , 96-98. Tung-tsu Ch 'ii, Social S t r u c t u r e , 347, 375. O n social mobility in Han times, see Ebrey, "Social History," 627-630, 635-637. HHS, 77-2499Ibid. H H S , 78.2532; Ch 'ii, Social S t r u c t u r e , 391. De Crespigny, Portents, 29—30. HHS, 54.1778—1780. HHS, 60B.1991-1992. HHS, 78.2532. Yang, "Great Families," 133-139; Chen,H«m Yiieh, 62-65. HHS, 59.1912. For a discussion of such remarks and the nature of naturalism in Shandong engravings, see Li Falin, Shandong, 53-55.



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125, 304; Zhang Fan, 312, 316; Zhang Heng, 370. See also Dahuting tombs; Early Jiaxiang school; Funerary art; Later Jiaxiang school

Afterlife, 52-59 An, Emperor, 227, 335, 339~34i Analects,

59,177,191, 207, 213, 214, 217,

307 An Guo : family of, 138, 244, 262; shrine of, 11,12,14, 52, 61,131,133-135, 138,180, 266, 271, 272, 277, 278, 281, 351; mentioned, 73,140 ,189, 238, 338, 395. See also Artists; Funerary monument; Shrine offering An Jinhuai, 405n, 40 7^ 4o8n Anqiuto m b, 121, 200, 264—266, 272—274,

Aristocracy: role of, in history o f style, 2, 3, 5, 7~9> 87, 88, 89, 109; symbology of, 38-40 , 87-90, 92; taste of, see under Taste; tombs of, 41,108 Auspicious cauldron, 264 Auspicious grain, 258 Auspicious well, 261 Authoritative presence {weiyt), 38 Authority: in classical tradition, 157,161, 166-168, 171, 174, 200; in descriptive tradition, 295-296, 299; encoded in style, 38,181, 344; in ornamental tradition, 14, 88, 181, 182, 296

289, 3^5, 393 Apes, immortality attributed to, 325-326 Apocryphal texts: check on imperial power, 235; effect on representation, 233-236; mentioned, 167,168, 258, 337, 40 m Argument, pictorial, 190—193, 270—271 Artists: at An Guo's shrine, 123,125, 271; at court, 6, 25, 35-38, 314-316, 360,

Bachhofer, Ludwig, 23, 352 Ban Gu , 171,173, 255, 38on Barrell, John, 7, 128 Baxandall, Michael, 67,128, 38 in Bear, 271-273, 325; emblem for courage, 214

363-364; at Zh u Wei shrine, 358, 359; competition among, 125-128; court painters, 315, 360; Jiang Hu , 180, 304; middle-income market for, 107-110; training and livelihood, 123—124; Wang

Beasts, gathered, 273-278, 281 Berger, Patricia, 383n

Jian, 180, 304; Wang Shu, 180; Wei Gai, 427



Bielenstein, Hans, 134, 135, 159,188, 236, 257, 317, 395, 396, 398, 4O5-40 7, 409

Chen Shi, 97 Chen Zho ng, 339

Bo county, 282, 330, 332, 340, 361

Cheng, Emperor, 227

Bodde, Derk, 398n

Cheng, King: and the Duke o f Zho u, 148,

Bohai Gulf, n o

179, 183, 188, 200, 202, 203, 209, 268,

Book of Changes

374, 399 ! mentioned, 163, 205, 209, n

( Y i j i n g ) , 336

Book of History

( S h u j i n g ) , 170,191, 209

Book of Master

M o ( M o z i ) , 137

210, 270, 403n Cheng, Te-k'un, 393a, 402n Cheng Go ng, 361-362

Book of Odes ( S h i j i n g ) . See Book of Songs Book of Rites

( L i j i ) , 13, 53, 61, 64, 65,

169, 170, 176, 39 9 « Book of Songs, Master

191, 238, 244,



Chong, Emperor, 209 Chongqing, 114

H a n ' s (Han

Citizens: defining feature o f a state, 93;

shi wai

167, 237, 240, 307, 337, 40 m

Book of the Prince

Cheng Jin, 345 Cheng Ying, 210,


Book of Songs (Shihjing),






translation for min, 93, 389-390 ^ mentioned, 194-196, 199, 222, 227-229, 257, 270, 302, 328, 368

137, 204, 375, 387n

Classical knowledge, vis-a-vis wealth, 86 -

Bright Hall ( M i n g t a n g ) , 161,168, 172,

87, 91, 204, 290, 296, 300-301, 369-



Buddha, 366

Classical tradition: described, 69; evolution

Bulling, A., 384^ 404~405n

of, 70—72; mural design in, 286-287;

Burke, Kenneth, 189

public concerns of, 302-303; rhetorical Cahill, James, 382n

features of, 181-182, 192, 374; status o f

Cai Yong, 276, 277, 365, 366

image in, 181; technique of carving in,

Cang, King, 384n

285—286; tomb structure, 282-284; vis-

Cang, king of Dongping, 309

a-vis descriptive tradition, 290; vis-a-vis

Cangshan tomb, 237, 393n; inscription, 52

ornamental tradition, 117; mentioned,

Cao Cao, 330-332, 362

121,164, 168-171, 189,192-194, 281,

Cao De , 332

282, 285, 286, 289, 290, 296, 300, 305,

Cao family tombs, 330, 331, 343, 352,


3i9, 325, 326, 331, 353, 367, 371-373-

40 5 n. See also Dongyuancun tombs;

See also Authority; Style; Taste; Wu family

Yuanbaokeng tomb 1

shrines Classicism: defined, 187; dialectical nature

Cao Luan, 362 Cao Quan, 139, 394a

of, 184; heuristic value of, 156-157;

Cao Song, 330-332, 409n

mentioned, 173, 254, 342. See also

Cao Te ng, 330, 331, 340, 4o8n


Cao-Wei dynasty (220-264), 332

Classic of f i l i a l Piety (Xiaojing),

Carriage procession: significance of, 64,

Classic of Mountains

101, 323; mentioned, 34, 132, 287, 4o8n

and Seas

Classic of Rites.

Cause and effect, pictorial expressions of,

Clientage, 100-101, 312, 347,


Zh i, 34S-347

Chai Zhongqing, 129



77, 274

Carriages, emblems of status, 277, 404n 186, 224, 232, 246, 373-374


See Book of Rites 348

Cloud patterns: significance of, 40, 75, 82, 88; mentioned, 76,162, 164, 175,


388n, 389^ 405n

Chao Cuo , 279

Commerce, development of, 106—108

Chen, Chi-yun, 93, 347, 399n, 40 3^ 409n

Confucius: on the afterlife, 59, 60; and Lao

Chen Fan, 347,


zi, 148, 200, 203, 208, 213, 268; com-


pared to phoenix, 237, 238; and disciples, 163, 225, 290; playing the chimes, 213, 249; and XiangTuo , 43, 200, 204, 205; mentioned, 60, 176, 177, 188, 195, 197, 202, 204, 205, 208, 214, 216, 217, 220, 242, 289, 302, 335, 338, 350, 363 Consort families, 207, 312 Cosmos: bureaucratization of, 185, 246; Do ng Zhongshu's theory of, 230-232; harmony of, contingent on recruitment, 256-257, 404n. See also Heaven; Yin and Yang Court, imperial: cultural compention with scholars, 3, 25, 160, 206, 310, 312, 313, 330, 367, 368, 377; distinguished from public sphere, 1,194,197, 310-311, 344, 347, 368; political competition with scholars, 8, 68, 158, 199, 207-209, 212, 222, 226, 247, 253, 256, 258—260, 262, 331, 337, 342--344, 347, 349; mentioned, 171, 185, 220, 221, 338. See also Eunuchs Court artists. See Artists Court taste. See Taste Crimson bear, 47,140, 258, 260, 262 Crimson Bird. See Vermilion Bird o f the South Criticism, political: justification fo r, 202, 255; in story o f Duke Lin g, 42, 210; mentioned, 80, 188, 190, 204. See also Omens; Political expression Crow, 268; emblem o ffilial piety, 243-244; sun, 54, 266 Crow, Thomas, 7 Cui Shi, 97, 134-135, 322 Cuo, king of Ji'nan, 309

4*9 366. See also Immortals; Queen o f Immortals Dark Warrior, 39, 272, 289, 404 De , Theodore, 40 m Decorum, style shaped by, 62, 64, 65 De Crespigny, Rafe, 313, 350, 409 Deer, 54, 79, 272 Demonstrations. See Students Deng, Empress Dowager, 140, 328, 339 Descriptive tradition: described, 68; evolution of, 70—72; patronage, 304-309, 330-332; technique of carving in, 285286; tomb structure, 282-283; o f imagery in, 296, 299; vis-à-vis classical tradition, 290, 371-375; mentioned, 353, 355, 367, 369. See also Dahuting tombs; Dongyuancun tombs; Houshiguo tombs; Zhu Wei shrine u



DeWoskin, Kenneth, 388 , 403 , 404 Dialectic: in classicism, 184, 187; of taste, 4, 160 Ding Go ng, 335 Discourse, 225; effect on style, 65, 66, 224; explained, 5-6; political, 159, 187, 189, 190, 199, 230, 375, 377 Dissent, 197, 202, 204, 205, 222, 254 Dissident scholars, 348, 349 Doi Yoshiko, 383 D o n gju n , 335 Dongjun, 243 Dongwanggong, 278 Dong Zhongshu: cosmic theory of, 185, 229-233, 246, 253; on decorative emblems, 38-39, 66; mentioned, 40, 64, 69, 263, 325, 40 m

Dahuting tombs: described, 301-308; patrons of, 304-309; tomb 1, 282, 283, 287, 289, 299, 300, 319, 321, 326, 327, 332, 405n; tomb z , 282, 289, 294, 326, 327, 353, 405n; mentioned, 296, 318,

Do ng Zhuo, 332 Dou, Empress Dowager, 308, 339 D o u Wu , 308, 349, 350 Dongyuancun tombs, 303, 305; patrons of, 330-332; tomb i, 330, 331; tomb 2, 282, 283, 289, 326, 330-333, 405 . See also Cao family tombs; Descriptive tradition

345, 35i , 354, 356, 359, 361, 3^9- See also Descriptive tradition Dai, countess of, 56,142 Daoist: subject matter, 34, 35, 47, 230; tradition of writing, 104-105, 230, 265,

Dragon: emblem o f rank, 66; intertwined, 271, 272; yellow, 226, 232, 252, 259, 260; mentioned, 40, 80,122, 164, 200, 237, 250, 254, 335, 352, 400 . See also Green Dragon of the East


4 30

Early Jiaxiang school: carving technique, 148,175-176; features o f style, 142, 146, 152, 164, 175-177, 180, 182-184; mentioned, 185, 203, 209, 224, 246, 247, 35i, 395", 397n. See also Jiaxiang school; Later Jiaxiang school Eastern Gardens, bureau of, 315. See also Artists: at court Eberhard, Wolfram, 10-11 Ebrey, Patricia, 101, 139, 39on, 394n, 398n, 40911, 4i o n Economists, 73, 75, 83-87, 91, 92, 385386n, 387^ 388n Elephant: at Yi'nan, 121,122; white, 264, 268 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 67, 95, 218, 38511, 40cm Equality, 83 Erya, 402n

a-vis wealth, 85-87, 129; mentioned, 4, 109, 128, 161, 231, 232, 238, 243, 244, 260. See also Classic of Filial Piety Fischer, Otto, 352 First Emperor: raising the tripods, 148, 199-203; suppressed dissent, 198; mentio ned, 188, 205, 206, 209, 242, 252, 255, 282, 300 Fontein, Jan, 403 Fox, 80; nine-tailed, 54, 266 Frugality, 161, 187, 314; distinguished fro m poverty, 174, 187; Guangwu devoted to, 173, 39 5 , 39 6 ; visual cues for, 171 Fu, king o f Pei, 308 Funerals, 390 ; extravagance at, 136-138, 392 ; public nature of, 97—101 Funerary art: market fo r, 108, 123-125, 136- 138; political use of, 337, 348,

350 -

Essential import (dayi), 233 Eunuchs: competition with scholars, 20 7208, 212, 215, 219, 256, 258, 308, 340, 343-345; depicted in art, 334, 360, 361, 363-365; education of, 362, 4o6n; mercantile activities of, 312-313; nepotism practiced by, 257, 261, 262; patrons o f art, 314-318, 330, 331; rise to power, 207-208, 310—312; shrine of, 360; struggle with partisans, 346—352; taste of, see underTastz; tomb of, 318, 330, 331; mentioned, 280, 305, 40on, 407n, 4o8n

Funerary monument: cost of, 133-134; functions of, 42-43, 50-58, 112, 113, 269, 270-271; middle-income patrons of, 10 8-110 ,129,138; public nature of, 97-103, 344; rich patrons of, 108-110, 137- 138; mentioned, 135, 337, 351, 394 . See also Rhetoric; Shandong: engravings Fusang tree, 407—408 Fu Xi (sage king): iconography of, 113114, 393 ; mentioned, 47, 116, 117, 185, 254, 257, 264-266, 268, 289, 402

Factions, political, 342, 349 Fairbank, Wilma, 23,131,142, 352, Fan Feng, 340 Fangdong, 351, 352, 360 Fang Zh i, 336, 342

Ganling, 342 Gaoping, 125, 180, 351, 352 Gao zu, Emperor, 173,181, 227 Ge ngBing, 315 Geng Shouchang, 388


Fan Ying, 221 Fan Zho ng, 136 Feicheng, 342; memorial stones at, 164, 393n, 395n Fei county, 338 Feng Yunpeng, 40 m Feng Yunyuan, 40 m Filial piety: associated with purity, 262; criterion for office, 13, 42, 43, 98/ 100; vis-


Genres, classification of, in Han art, 31-34 Gombrich, E. H . , 27, 58-59, 62, 64, 387 Gong, king o f Donghai, 308 Gongsun Chujiu, 43, 210—212 Gongsun Shu, 220 Gongyang commentary, 178 Green Dragon o f the East, 39, 47, 56, 253, 272, 289, 404 . See also Dragon Guangwu, Emperor: classical revival of,


158-160; treatment o f recluses, 220 221; mentioned, 71,158-160 ,173,174, 184,196,198, 206, 207, 209, 220-222, 229, 239, 242, 254, 260, 308, 309, 311, 316, 317, 335, 336, 339, 340, 345, 349, 361, 367, 375, 384^ 395^ 396n, 40on. See also Frugality Gu liang commentary, 178


Houshiguo tombs, 294, 352, 353, 361, 4 °5 Ho , Wai-kam, 383n Hsiao Kung-chuan, 40 m Hsu Cho-yun, 93,190, 409n Huainan z. See Book of the Prince Huai River, n o Huan, Duke, 3 5 n


Huan, Emperor, 207, 209-212, 219, 251, H a n f e i z i , 370 Hansen, Chad, 61 H a n shi wai zbuan. See Book of Songs, Master Han's Han Yan, 346 Harem: imperial, 317, 328, 329; represented at Dahuting tomb 1, 318, 326329; mentioned, 289, 310, 353, 359, 366, 374» 4 °5n Hayashi Minao, 35,168, 40411 He, Emperor, 317, 339 Heaven: check on misgovernment, 191, 192, 196, 197, 200, 235, 238, 246, 256, 259, 271, 328, 340, 344; in cosmological theory, 38, 66,184, 230-232, 246, 250, 270; recruitment practices and harmony of, 232, 254-256, 276, 333; source o f omens, 178, 201, 202, 226—228, 231, 244, 251, 257, 328, 339; mentioned, 52, 53, 207, 242, 282, 313, 404. See also Mandate o f Heaven He Chun, 221 Hedong, 258 Helingol, tomb at, 264, 403 n, 4o8n Henan, 175, 282 Heyang, 139 Hierarchy, in Do ng Zongshu's cosmos, 230-232 History: prospective view, 9—11; retrospective view, 10-11, 14, 193 History of the Latter H a n (Hou han shu), 97, 328, 337, 366 Hongdu Academy, 361-367, 4io n Honglou, Jiangsu, 393n Ho uji, Shandong, 164 Ho u Lan: mother's tomb, 351, 352; mentioned, 313, 316, 345, 346, 360 Hou Shen, 346

253, 258, 259, 282, 312, 313, 317, 331, 335, 34i , 342, 344-347, 349, 399n Huang Fugui, 346 Huang Lao, 366 Huang Qio ng, 221 Huchang, Jiangsu, 141 Hulsewe', A. F. P., 398n, 399n Hybrid beast, 47,140, 201, 247, 263, 266268, 319 Hybrid bird, 122, 247, 266-268 Hybrid fish, 258, 260, 402n Hybrid omens, 355 Immortals: at Anqiu, 264; at Dahuting, 287, 289; at Wulaowa, 163, 164; at Yi'nan, 266; at Zhu Wei shrine, 3 $4-355; and apes, 325; and gathered beasts, 274; and mushroom o f immortality, 54, 79, 201; signify wish for long life, 272, 273, 277, 278; statues of, 172; style o f representation linked to patronage, 62-63; mentioned, 34, 44, 47, 76, 79, 90, 113, 117,118, 120, 225, 263, 268, 271-273, 277, 278, 40411. See also Paradise; Queen of Immortals; Unicorn Immortality, ideal of, 265-266 Imperial succession, legitimacy of, 209, 210, 212 Interlocked trees, 225, 247, 258, 260, 267, 268 Interpretation: critical level, n - 14 , 139; literal level, 11, 14, 139, rhetorical level, n , 14-16, 139 Influence, critique of, 21-23, 29. See also Viral theories of style Jade horse, 258, 260, 261 Jade suit, 330, 331, 334, 343



James, Jean, 394 , 399 Jefferson, Thomas, 193 Jia H u , 367 Jiang H u (artist), 180, 304 Jiang Lan, 363, 364 Jiang Yingju, 393 Jiangsu, engraved stones in , n o , 114, 117, 175 Jiaxiang county, 62,125,142,164, 264, 267, 268 Jiaxiang school, 177-179, 269. See also Classical tradition; Early Jiaxiang school; Later Jiaxiang school Jin dynasty (Western, 256-316), 332 Jing, king o f Langya, 309 Jining, 39 3 Jinxiang, Shandong, 351, 352 Jiunudun, Jiangsu, 117, 120-122, 393 Jiyin commandery, 258, 336 Jizhou, 343 Jugel, Ulrikc, 406 Kaiming,


Kang, king o f Ji'nan, 308 Kunlun, 77 Lai, Judy, 201, 398 Laing, Ellen Johnston, 38 3 Langya, kingdom of, 332 Lang Yi, 328 Lao zi, 176, 204, 205, 208, 242, 338. See also Confucius Later Jiaxiang school: carving technique, 148, 1 S3; features o f style, 150-153, 236; mentioned, 164, 180, 183, 209, 351, 352, 37°, 395 . See also Jiaxang school; Early Jiaxiang school; Classical tradition Lawton, Thomas, 39m Laufer, Bertold, 213, 383 , 399 Lee, Sherman, 38 3 Legitimacy, political, 235; theme at Wulaowa, 199, 200, 203-205; theme at Wu shrines, 206, 209, 210, 212 Le Song, 363, 364, 367^ Li , Chu-tsing, 38 3 Liang, Empress Dowager, 209, 252, 259, 261, 306, 307, 316-317, 341

Liangchengshan, Shandong, engravings at, 122, 237, 243, 325, 39 3

Liang Ji, 209, 210, 212, 252, 257, 258, 311, 312, 330, 334, 345, 346 Liang Shang, 315 Liang Song, 315 Liaodong, grand administrator of, 353 Li , Ch i, 400 Li Can, 405 Li Falin, 112-113,124,135, 38 3 , 410 Lightning, god of, 169 Li Gu, 212, 213, 221, 222, 256, 258, 262, 3 ", 334, 34 °, 341, 393", 39 9

Ling, Duke, 42, 210, 335 Lin g, Emperor, 219, 282, 313, 317, 328, 331, 333, 33 , 361,365-367 L i n g z hi (mushroom o f immortality), 54, 77, 79, 201. See also Immortals Linyi county, 39 3 Lio n , 271, 272, 404 Liscomb, Kathlyn, 38 3 Li Tao, 243 Liu Hu i, 214—216, 260, 347. See also Purity Liujiacun, 168, 169 Liu Kai, 262, 339 Liu Kun, 99, 335, 336, 39m Liu Shu, 349, 400 6

Liu-Song Dynasty, History of the, 239, 244, 261, 262, 264, 266, 40 m Liu Tao, 343 Liu Xiu, 220. See also Guangwu, Emperor Liwu, marquis of, 212. See also Huan, Em peror Li Ye, 220, 222, 250 Li Ying, 347, 348, 350, 352 Lochr, Max, 80 Loewe, Michael, 15, 53, 54, 93, 256, 380 , 38 5-38 6 , 398 , 40 m , 402 , 409 Lo u Wang, 336-338 Liinan, Shandong, stone tower at, 134 Lu , duke of, 289 L u n heng, 179, 225 Luoyang, i n , 171, 173, 341, 369 Lu Qiang, 316, 362; memorial on wealth, 367-368 L i i s h i chunqiu, 95 Lu wu (guardian o f paradise), 77-78, 386— 8 n 3




Luxury: criticisms of, 75, 84, 172; stylistic cues for, 79, 82,177,181

Nepotism. See Eunuchs New Text school, 233, 235, 239, 250, 253, 259, 40 m

Majors, John, 393

Ni Kuan, 362

Mandate o f Heaven, 197, 228, 230, 237,

Nine-headed beast, 122. See also


238, 398 . See also Phoenix

North China Plain, n o -114 , 116, 123-

Mao commentary, 66, 239, 244

126, 129, 141,142, 148, 153, 392 ,

Maocun tomb, 237, 243, 267-268, 273, 274, 2.77, 289, 331, 355> 393", 409 Master H a n ' s Book of Songs. See Book of Songs, Master Master

394 Nouveaux riches: artisac taste of, see


Taste; conflict with scholars, 71, 313, 318, 339, 345, 360-362, 367, 369, 375,

Han's Zo's Commentary

( Z o z h u a n ) , 363

Mawangdui banner painting, 54, 142, 175

376; lifestyles of, 312-313 Nu Wa: iconography of, 113, 114, 392-

Mencius, 196,197, 215

39 3 ; mentioned, 47,116,117,185,

Mi county, Henan, 282, 294

254, 257, 264-266, 268, 289, 402

M i n . See Citizens Min g, Emperor classical revival of, 156, -

160, 161; mentioned, 71, 99,162,164, 168, 171-175, 177, 180, 184, 186, 191, 195, 196, 198, 206, 207, 209, 227, 241, 255, 306, 307, 309, 316, 317, 335, 337, 339, 340, 367, 369, 374, 375, 4 ° m Middle-income families: funerary monu-

Odes. See Book of Songs Old Text school, 235 Omens: allude to political corruption, 260 263; allude to political oppression, 247253; allude to bureaucratic recruitment, 253-260; divination of, 178; form o f wish imagery, 268—271, 275, 277, 278;

ments of, 138, 281; identified as social

in Former Han art, 263, 268, 403 ; in

group, 93,138; mentioned, 3, 4, 15, 19,

Latter Han art, 34, 47, 50 ,122,172,

83, 85, 97, 108, n o , 257, 263, 277, 312,

201, 202, 206, 263, 268, 281, 289, 314,

313, 34 °, 342, 37°, 387

353, 40111, 402 ; reflect Confucian con-

Middle-income scholars: social function of,

cerns, 266—268; rhetorical uses of, 192,

206—207; mentioned, 156, 186, 198, 205, 335, 394" Mobility, social: necessary for rhetorical art,

219, 220, 221, 224, 226, 227, 229-230,

190-191 ; necessary for wish imagery, 270; mentioned, 10 2 , 108, 138, 410 Mohists, attitude toward afterlife, 59 M o z i (Book of Master Mo ), 137 Mythological scenes, 31, 34 Nagahiro Toshio, 382 Nanwuyang stone towers, 133, 164 Nanyang: engravings of, 62, 64, 79, i n , 113, 129, 141, 162, 164, 176, 181, 182, 2 0 2 , 264, 267, 268, 39 i n ; merchants of, 345, 396n

232, 236-245, 253, 258, 338, 374, 375; theory of, 186, 255, 328; tool o f political criticism, 228—229, 233, 246, 246-248 Ornament, 35, 71, 85, 105, 314—316, 318, 325, 343, 370, 375 Ornamental tradition: described, 68; evolution of, 70 -72; personal attributes encoded in, 18, 192, 373, 374; vis-ä-vis classical tradition, 174,177,180 -187; mentioned, 88, 90, 91,160 ,162, 189, 263, 267, 268, 296, 301. See also Authority Ouyan gXi, 336

Naturalism: critique of, in China, 369-370; in Early Jiaxiang school, 142-148; in the-

Painters, court, 315, 360. See also Artists

ories o f Han

Paradise, 56, 76, 77, 79,181, 238, 244,

dynasty style, 21—23, 25,

27; mentioned, 64-66, 4 10 Nelson, Susan, 388

263, 266, 268, 272-276, 278, 354. See also Queen of Immortals


434 Parallel prose, pictorial correlate of, 185, 202, 205 Partisans, 308, 331, 349, 350, 352. See also Pure criticism Patronage, political. See Clientage Patronage o f art: by lower-level bureaucrats, 69,129,132-136,140 ,186; by nouveaux riches, 314-318, 330; by royalty, 305-309; in North China Plain, 110 113; vaulted tombs, 318, 330-332; Zh u Wei shrine, 352, 360; mentioned, 2-3, 27, 29,108—109, ^2 2

Pavilion scene, 47,148,150 Pei: chancellor of, 352; kingdom of, 252 Pengcheng, 332 People (su), 95, 96,179 Personification, pictorial correlate of, 185, 186, 246, 253, 254 Persuasion, 188-190, 375. See also Rhetoric, classical Phoenix: Confucius the counterpart of, 216, 237. 2.38; dancing, 264, 265, 274-276; Heaven's mandate signified by, 237—239; immortals associated with, 34, 44, 237, 238; multicolored, 227; recluse the counterpart of, 225, 226, 241, 242; rhetorical uses of, 242; ruler/administrator the counterpart of, 239, 241, 242; scholar the counterpart of, 47, 238, 256; significance of, 237-242; mentioned, 62—64, 163,192, 219, 236, 258, 263, 266—268, 353 Pit-style tomb, 41, 50 Political administration, scenes of, 164-168 Political discourse. See Discourse Political expression: encouraged by decline of aristocracy, 8-9; topic o f debate in China, 2, 5, 9, 15, 193, 197-199, 409 . See also Criticism, political; Omens; Political oppression; Political participation; Public; Public opinion Political oppression, 271; art a response to, 350-351; unicorn a reference to, 249250; white tiger a reference to, 250 Political organization o f provincial scholars, 34 7- 35° Political participation: history o f idea, 196— 199; theme at Wulaowa, 204-209

Poor, 15, 19, 93, 137 Portraits: o f eunuchs, 361-365, 375; rhetorical uses of, 344, 348 Powis, Jonathan, 6—7 Private influence in government. See Public versus private Privy treasury, 194, 310, 311, 314, 407n Protest movement. See Pure criticism Provincial styles, relation to capital styles, 23, 25,161,162, 316-317, 338-339, 344, 347 Public: constituency of, 99; defined, 95-96; impersonal nature of, 341; origins in Latter Han, 222; political influence of, 190, 193, 222, 252, 253, 255, 259, 342, 350; scholar's reputation defined by, 19, 96, 98-102, 370, 376 Public, general (shtsu), 96, 98, 228 Public monies, 310, 368 Public opinion: classical taste shaped by, 317; eunuchs independent of, 312; funerary art affected by, 128; Heaven the personification of, 271; nobility independent of, 63-63; political influence of, 197, 219, "7 , 34*, 346, 35°, 36 5, 4 0 2« ; mentioned, 73, 92, 100, 330, 389^ See also Students: demonstrations Public relief, 84,194, 247, 398n Public versus private: in government, 9, 43, 94, 189, 194-195, 207-208, 310-312, 335, 337-341, 347, 367-368, 370, 39on; imagery contrasted, 300-305 Pure criticism (qingyi) movement, 261, 263, 346, 347, 40311 Purity (qing): attribute of recluse, 217, 219, 221, 222; equivalent to integrity, 260; Liu Hu i an exemplar of, 215, 260; political significance of, 260-263, 339, 348 Quantity: basis of feudal symbology, 88; expressions of, 92, 187 Queen Mother of the West. See Queen o f Immortals Queen o f Immortals, 403n; court of, 47, 54, 163, 233, 270; cult of, 54; moral dimension of, 266; paradise of, 54, 58, 244, 274, 397n; signifies wish for long life, 278, 300; typifies classical tradition, 244,


264, 265, 268, 290; at Zh u Wei shrines, 290, 355- See also Immortals; Lu wu; Paradise Q i n g , qingyt. See Pure criticism Qinshi huangdi. See First Emperor Qufu, Shandong, engravings of, 134 Qu Yuan, 351


Rhetorical potential, of style, 184-186, 373 Rich, 15, 19, 93, 132,137,138 Ro n gGe n g, 215 Rostovtzeff, Michael, 21 Royal College, 161,177 Ruan Yuan, 38 Rudolph, Richard, 392n, 396n

Ranks, noble, 398n Raynal, Abbd, 1, 91 Recluse scholars: admired by activists, 349; alluded to at Wu shrines: 213, 216-217, 258, 266, 403 n; political influence of, 219-222, 255, 256, 339, 375, 40on; social critics, 218, 219, 221, 222, 340. See also Phoenix; Purity; Unico m ; Wu Liang Records of the Grand Historian (Sima Qian), 204, 214, 227, 398-399n Recruitment, bureaucratic: alluded to in art, 209, 237-239, 247, 253-256, 261, 262, 267; political issue, 206, 208, 209, 238240, *47, 271, 312, 333> 37°; practice of, 99, 103, 194 Red Bird. See Vermilion Bird Relief. See Public relief Ren An, 345, 346 Rencheng, 259; chancellor of, 352 Representation: effect o f New Text school on, 235, 236; funeral ceremony as, 5861; E. H . Gombrich on, 58 Reputation, 370; bureaucratic career contingent on, 97—101, 216; determined by public, 95, 96; effect o f funeral on, 98, 100, 101,136-139, 140 Revival, classical, 71,151,158,160 ,161, 186, 367, 369, 375 Rhetoric, classical: adopted by Guangwu, 156—159; characteristics of, 190-192, 195, 196, 202, 203, 224, 229, 233, 246, 247, 255, 261, 300, 374; political uses of, 197, 199, 219, 227-230, 235, 236, 253, 254, 256-259, 261, 344, 348, 350, 361; visual analogues of, 157-158,174,182, 184-186,188-194, 200, 202, 204, 205, "3- 214 , 223, 225, 230, 233, 236, 237, 242, 246, 247, 253, 258, 260, 270-271, 300, 334, 335, 337, 344, 34 «, 373~ 375. See also Style

Salt and iron debates, 158,160 ,161,171, 174,185, 191,197, 199, 255, 369, 38on, 387n, 392n Schapiro, Meyer, 393n Shaanxi, i n , 162 Shan Chao, 314, 315 Shandong, 332, 286n; culture of, 74,171, 279; economy of, 68-69, n o -112, 276; engravings, 113-125,128, 140, 141, 164,175,176,185, 225, 226, 240, 254, 258, 264, 266-268, 270-271, 282, 371; scholars, 68, 85,157,160 ,162,174,177, 186,187,195,199, 350, 352 Shanxi, i n , 113 Shanyang commandery, 12, 259, 336; grand administrator of, 352; political climate of, 253, 348, 351 ShenGua, 353 Shi. See Public Shih, Hsio-yen, 383^ 392a, 396n S h i j i . See Records of the Grand Historian Shilipu, Jiangsu, 122, 268, 393n Shrine offering: decoration of, 34, 41, 42, 63,131, 271, 277; functions of, 43, 63, 66, 97, 98,101, 108, 269, 404n; patronage of, n o , 124,125,135,138, 139. See also An Guo ; H o u Lan; Wu Liang shrine; Zh u Wei shrine Shu Lin, 243 Shun, Emperor, 207, 212, 256, 328, 330, 33i, 34 °, 34i Shun (sage king), 344, 366; paradigm o f talented official, 170 Sichuan, engravings of, 111,113,114,118, 121,141,162, 220 Sickman, Lawrence, 383n Silbergeld, Jerome, 383n Silver jar (amphora), 140, 250, 252, 253, 374


43* Sima Qian, 20, 200, 202, 204, 214, 250, 39911. See also Records of the Grand Historian Siren, Osvald, 352 Slaves, legal protection for, 1,196 Song Deng, 335 Songshan, Shandong, engravings of, 128, 131, 270, 278, 39 5 , 39 9

Teng county, 25, 128,133,141, 273, 274,

Songs of the South, 263 Soper, A. C , 23 Souls (hun and/w), 52-53 Spiro, Audrey, 3 8 3 Spring

and A u t u m n Annals

Taste: aristocratic, 2, 6-8, 35, 39-41, 70 72, 91, 375; classical, 71,160, 162, 174, 178,187, 279, 282, 334; at court, 2, 3, 7, 8, 71, 160,161, 186, 309, 310, 314317, 33i , 362, 369, 375-377; dialectical evolution of, 3, 5, 70-72, 375; o f nouveaux riche s, 72, 314, 316, 317, 360, 366-370



2-33, 336 Status quo, 14, 68-69,190 ,192, 248, 268, 270, 301, 335, 373 Students: demonstrations, 2, 8, 343—344, 346, 409 ; local, 335, 338; political activism by, 348, 349; university, 342-347, 350 Style: "archaic,'' 116, 393 ; classical, 177179, 185, 302, 303, 335, 373, 374; geometrical features of, 142, 150, 152, 153, 176, 179; in North China Plain, 115123; in vaulted tombs, 285, 296, 303, 304; provincial versus capital, 23, 25, 352; regional, 113, 117, 124-126, 392 , 39 6 ; theories of, 20—30. See also Classical tradition; Descriptive tradition; Naturalism; Ornamental tradition; Viral theories of style Su, king o f Donghai, 308 Subde meanings (weiyan), 233, 40111 Sun Qi, 336 Sun Zuoyun, 326, 407 Sweet dew, 227 Symmetry: at Dahuting tomb 1, 321; feature of classical rhetoric, 160, 173, 174, 187, 314; feature of classical tradition, 175, 182, 183, 185, 193, 321, 373-375; signifies cosmic harmony, 253 Tai, Mount, 110 Taihengshan Mountains, n o Tan Fu , 336, 350 Tan Wenyou. See Tan Fu Tang, Kin g, 344

277, 33i, 393, 4°8 n , 40 9 « Thorp, Robert, 392n Thunder, god of, 169, 185 Tiger: at Cangshan, 122; at Yi'nan, 121, 254, 2.71, 39 9 ~ 4°o n Tjan Tjoe Som, 23 5 Tombs: construction of, 50,108-109, 124, 129—132; cost of, 134; decoration of, 34, 40 -44, 64, 264, 265, 267, 268, 272, 277, 339, 363; function of, 52, 54, 56, 60, 64, 66, 97, 98,101, 269, 271, 348; patronage of, 108—no, 129, 132, 305, 3i5> 3i6, 334, 339, 340, 343, 351, 36i. See also Descriptive tradition; Funerary monument; Vaulted tombs Tongshan, Jiangsu, engravings of, 237, 243, 273, 274, 277 Tripod (omen), 200-201, 227 Tu'an Gu , 210—212 Unicorn: alludes to political oppression, 249-250, 402n; recluse the counterpart of, 219, 225-226, 250, 253, 402n; tended by immortals, 44; mentioned, 252, 263, 265, 267, 268 University, imperial, 108, 158, 160, 338, 34i, 343, 35i, 362, 365 Vanderstappen, Harrie, 382n Vaulted tombs, 290, 296, 334; carving technique in, 285-286; construction, 282283; date of, 330—333; decoration, 299, 367, 369, 372; mural design, 386-389; patronage, 304-306, 309, 318. See also Dahuting tombs; Descriptive tradition; Dongyuancun tombs Vermilion Bird of the South, 39, 272, 289, 404n


Vervoon, Aat, 40011 Viral theories o f style, 20—30, 367 Voltaire, 1 Wa Dan, 335 Warm, 393n Wang Cho ng, 52, 53, 59, 61, 96, 138, 170, 179, 19 , 9 8 , 199, 224-226, 228, 229, 233, 2.39, 242, 250, 256, 257, 268, 279, 280, 336, 337, 362 1


Wang Fu (recluse), 94, 97, 100,103, 139, 301—302, 386n Wang Fu (eunuch), 313 Wang Fuzhi, 396n Wang Jian, 180, 304 Wang Lilin , 114 WangMang, 71, 99, 158, 162, 196, 207, 219-222, 227, 229, 254, 267, 322, 336, 375, 39m , 395n, 396n, 40 m Wang Shu (artist), 180 Wang Yugang, 405n Wealth, 362; attitude toward, encoded in style, 4-5, 67-72, 87, 90, 155; distinct fro m social status, 186, 194; moral dimension of, 278; public versus private, 302, 367-368; transfer of, at Dahuting tomb i 321; vis-a-vis classical knowledge, see Classical knowledge; visual signs for, 181, 277, 282, 296, 353. See also Lu Qiang r

Wei Gai (artist), 125, 304 Weishan county, 393n Weiyan dayi, 233, 40 m White horse, 258 White Tiger o f the West, 39, 47, 250, 252, 253, 272, 289, 404n. See also Green Dragon o f the East

437 Wu family shrines: date of, 331; iconography of, 166, 209, 210, 212, 213, 216, 217, 237, 325; inscription, 100, 250, 265, 40311; patrons of, 133, 225; rhetorical features of, 166, 167, 206, 209, 244, 249, 250, 268, 301, 322, 325, 335, 338, 348, 349; style o f engraving, n - 12, 23, 25, 148, 289, 352; mentioned, 307, 384", 395", 4 °"> Wu Hun g, 47, 97,108, 167, 259, 352, 38 3« , 397", 399n, 40 m , 402n, 403n Wulaowa tomb: date of, 163-164; iconography of, 166, 169, 200, 203, 225; rhetorical features of, 133, 142,163, 164, 168, 170, 182, 183, 185, 186, 193, 199, 200, 203, 208, 209, 213, 246, 300, 301, 346; style o f engraving, 142, 175, 177, 181, 200; mentioned, 206, 281, 393n, 395", 397" Wu Liang: character of, 100, 167, 238, 240, 260, 337; recluse, 218, 221, 267, 337, 338 Wu Liang shrine, 259, 266; cost of, 135, 138; iconography of, 140, 247, 248, 262-264; rhetorical features of, 247, 251, 258, 260-264; style o f engraving, 124— 125 Wu Ro ng, 100, 133, 166, 337, 338, 341, 348, 370, 399n Wu Shuhe, 243 Wu Tung, 403n Xi'an, i n , 139 Xiang, king of Ji'nan, 309 XiangTuo , 43, 204, 342. See also Confucius Xiaotangshan shrine, 142, 146, 164, 168, 169, 200, 201, 395n Xing Qu, 65

Wilson, Marc, 383n Wind: alludes to adversity, 169-170; god of, 168, 185 Wish imagery. See Omens Wu (sage king), 244 Wu, Emperor, 200, 201, 310 Wu Ban, 133

Xu district, 11 Xuan, Emperor, 227 Xue Han, 335 Xu Gan, 215 Xu Shen, 243 Xutai, Jiangsu, 200

Wu family: political inclinations of, 217, 248, 253, 260, 348-349; mentioned, 61, 138, 189, 262

Xuzhou, Jiangsu, engravings of, 114,116, 117,122, 125, 128, 153, 264, 267, 268, 332

4 38

Yan D u , 350-351 Yan Guang, 2.21, 222 Yan Wu, 243 Yang, Lien-sheng, 93 Yang Bing, 346 Yang Ho u, 221 Yang Lun, 335 Yang Zhen, 262, 334, 339, 343; tomb of, *45 Yang Zheng, 346 Yao (sage king), 366 Yellow Emperor, 237 Yellow Sea, 110 Yellow Turban rebellion, 331, 332 Yi'nan, Shandong, engravings at, 121,122, 266-268, 371-373, 393n Yin and Yang: in cosmological theory, 230; at Dahuting tomb 1, 289; harmony of, 250, 272; harmony of, contingent on recruitment, 254-256, 300, 368; personifications of, 113, 185, 253, 254, 393n Yuan, Emperor, 227 Yuanbaokeng tomb 1, 330, 331. See also Cao family tombs; Dongyuancun tombs Yuan Shao, 332 Yu Ying-shih, 53, 4o8n Yutai county, Shandong, 134, 338 Yu Weichao, 108


Zhang Fan, 312, 316, 345 Zhang Heng (artist), 173,174, 370 Zhang Jian, 316, 351, 352, 360 Zhang Kai, 313 Zhang Rang, 347 Zhang Suo, 347 Zhang Xing, 336-338 Zhang Yanyuan, 370 Zhao, king of, 337 Zhao Bao, 312 Zhao Dun, 42, 335 Zhao Jianzi, 250 Zhao Shuo, 210, 211 Zhao Wu, 210, 213, 247, 249 Zhao Zhong, 343, 344, 347 Zheng, king o f Donghai, 308 Zheng Xuan, 97, 239 Zheng Zhong, 339 Zhi, Emperor, 211, 212, 261 Zhong Huan, 346 Zho u, Duke of, 43,157,161,163,168, 171, 206, 209, 276, 300, 350. See also Cheng, King Zho u, king of the Shang, 289 Zho u Fu , 336, 342

Zeng Zi , 60 Zhang, Emperor, 164, 209, 227, 255, 339,

Zho u Ze, 99 Z h u a n g z i , 53, 396n Zhucheng, Shandong, engravings at, 405 n Zhu Mu, 343-344 Zhu Wei shrine: iconography of, 352-361; patronage, 360-361; style o f engraving, 25, 27, 290, 303, 318, 352, 354, 356,

4 °7n Zhang Daoyi, 409n

358-359, 40 5" Zi Lu , 213-217, 399n