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Poetry and Painting in Song China: The Subtle Art of Dissent

Poetry and Painting in Song China: The Subtle Art of Dissent

by Alfreda Murck


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Throughout the history of imperial China, the educated elite used various means to criticize government policies and actions. During the Song dynasty (960-1278), some members of this elite found an elegant and subtle means of dissent: landscape painting.

By examining literary archetypes, the titles of paintings, contemporary inscriptions, and the historical context, Alfreda Murck shows that certain paintings expressed strong political opinions—some transparent, others deliberately concealed. She argues that the coding of messages in seemingly innocuous paintings was an important factor in the growing respect for painting among the educated elite and that the capacity of painting's systems of reference to allow scholars to express dissent with impunity contributed to the art's vitality and longevity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674007826
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 04/01/2002
Series: Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series , #50
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 440
Sales rank: 989,475
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Alfreda Murck is an independent scholar living in Beijing.

Table of Contents

Maps and Figures

Dates of Chinese Dynasties and Selected Rulers



A Millennium of XiaoXiang Laments

Sage-King Shun and His Faithful Wives

Qu Yuan

Song Yu

Jia Yi

Wang Yi

Yu Xin



Li Bo

Du Fu

Han Yu

Liu Zongyuan

A Defining Moment: Shenzong's Reign (1067-85)

Early Song Political Culture

Emperor Shenzong Implements the New Policies

A Painting Celebrates New Beginnings (1072)

A Painting Admonishes the Emperor (1074)

The Case of the Loyal Official Song Di

The Luoyang Exiles

The Crow Terrace Poetry Trial (1079)

Infusing Painting with Poetry

The Importance of Du Fu

Encoding Poetry

Song Di's Creation of the Eight Views of XiaoXiang

Literary Characteristics of the Eight Views of XiaoXiang Titles

Exile, Return, and Dissonance

Unjust Exile: Wild Geese Descend

Reprieve: A Sail Returns

Mountain Markets and Du Fu's Autumn Day in Kui Prefecture

Confronting Melancholy: Evening, Night, and Autumn

River and Sky, Evening Snow

Autumn Moon over Dongting

Night Rain on Xiaoxiang

Evening Bellfrom a Mist-Shrouded Temple

Fishing Village in Evening Glow

Tree Leaves Fall

Level-Distance Landscapes

Su Shi and Wang Shen: Misty River, Layered Peaks

Su Shi Encodes a Poem

Wang Shen Rhymes a Response

Su Shi Writes After Drinking

Wang Shen Responds with Thanks

Misty River, Layered Peaks, Attributed to Wang Shen

A Manuscript of the Pour Poems

Huang Tingjian's Laments

Career and Political Exiles

Wind in the Pines, 1102


Monk Zhongren's Painted Plums, 1104

Proclaiming Harmony: The Court's Visual Rhetoric

Huizong's Ascension

Paintings Proclaiming Harmony

Era of Peace and Order

Writing for the Emperor: Guo Si and Han Zhuo

Wang Hong's Eight Views of XiaoXiang

The Chan Monk Juefan Huihong

Wang Hong Paints Like a Poet


New Uses of the Past

Dream Journey over XiaoXiang Ma Yuan and the Eight Views of XiaoXiang

Ma Yuan and Zhang Zi's Poetry Gathering

A Succession Crisis, a Banishment, and Spurious Learning

"Seventh Month" from the Odes of Bin

The Buddhist Monks Muqi and Yujian


Du Fu Texts and Translations

SuShi's and Wang Shen's Matching of Du Fu's Rhymes

Huang Tingjian's Matching of Du Fu's Rhymes

Eight Views of XiaoXiang Poetry by Buddhist Monks

Reference Matter



Character List


What People are Saying About This

More than any other study, this brilliantly researched hook carries the reader into the intellectual environment of scholars, painters, and poets who created new forms of visual and verbal expression during the Song dynasty.

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