In the late 1770s Weng Fanggang (1733–1818) initiated what would become a defining feature of High Qing cultural and social life: ceremonies in honor of Su Shi's birthday. These elaborate, collective rituals took place yearly in Weng's Beijing residence and centered on a number of authentic “traces” (ji) of Su Shi that Weng had rediscovered over time. What was the significance of these rituals and how did they relate to the broader late-eighteenth-century interest in the past's material traces? This essay follows Weng Fanggang's quest for Su Shi across the empire and reconstructs the ways three such traces—a calligraphy, a poetry anthology, and a portrait—were continually transformed to accommodate Weng's act of devotion to Su Shi. The active participation of Chosŏn scholars in Weng's endeavors extended the cult of Su Shi beyond the borders of the Qing empire, outlining the existence of a transnational community of scholars who identified themselves in shared cultural symbols.
Archives of Asian Art – Duke University Press
Published: Apr 1, 2019
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