Reviews Nicolas Standaert. The Interweaving of Rituals: Funerals in the Cultural Exchange between China and Europe. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008. viii, 328 pp. Hardcover $65.00, isbn 978-0-2959-8810-8. Paperback $30.00, isbn 978-0-2959-8823-8. Funerals and rites of mourning have long occupied an outsized place in European and North American accounts of China. Anthropologists, art historians, social historians, and scholars of religion, including J. B. de Groot, James L. Watson, Wu Hung, and Norman Kutcher, have analyzed patterns of burial and mourning for clues to understanding broad cultural patterns and political dynamics. As Nicolas Standaert shows in his bold and stimulating new book, The Interweaving of Rituals, the fascination with Chinese funerals has old roots. Catholic missionaries of the seventeenth century were struck by the elaborateness of Chinese funerals, which stood in contrast to the often austere and rather perfunctory treatments of the dead in Christian Europe. To be sure, some of the missionaries were alarmed by what they saw: The funerary procession to the tomb resembled a Roman triumph more than a somber event. But other missionaries were clearly impressed-- not only by the scale of the event, but also by what such civic ceremonies said about the
China Review International – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Jan 6, 2009
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