Friday, June 15 Afternoon Session Abstracts (2:00–6:00)


Chair: Francesca DAL LAGO 

LEE Wing Ki

Hong Kong Baptist University

The Social Lives of Porcelain Photo as Commemorative Portrait in the 20th Century Chinese Context

This paper examines material culture and sociocultural history of porcelain photo portrait in the 20th century Chinese context. Porcelain photo, also known as ‘photoceramics,’ has been extensively employed for memorial and commemorative portrait in both private and public spheres in Chinese society because of its permanence. The making of a porcelain photo is an obsolete, historic photographic printing process to mark a image permanently on porcelain and/or ceramic surface through vitrification. The technique and vernacular application could be traced back to mid 19th century photographic literature in Europe and North America. Field research conducted in south China port cities such as Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou revealed the prevalent uses of porcelain photo since the 20th century – often black-and-white photographic portraits for the deceased for remembrance, or for donor and philanthropist for commemoration. Porcelain photo portrait, a ‘Chinese’ object, permeates rituals of life and death and is situated in networks of public and domestic domains. Based on artefacts found from public cemeteries, museums, ancestral shrines and porcelain photo workshops in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou, this paper will discuss the social lives of porcelain photo including, 1, the claim of image permanence that contradicts from empirical finding of physical deterioration of porcelain photo (the material condition); 2, the act to destroy an ancestral portrait as a rite of passage (the social and anthropological aspects); and 3, how to delineate the live of this physical object of EuroAmerican origin in the 20th Century Chinese society (the transcultural aspect).


National Palace Museum, Taiwan

From Boudoir to Antique shop to Modern Museum: The Social Life of Han Ximeng’s Embroidered Album

Combining approaches of material culture, gender studies, cultural history, as well as art history, this paper examines an embroidered album by Han Ximeng (fl. 1634-1641) of late Ming Shanghai. Now entitled The Album of Eight Embroideries of Famous Song and Yuan Paintings (Song Yuan mingji fangce), this album is currently housed in the Palace Museum in Beijing. With colophon pointing this album to the Song Yuan master paintings and with approving “Dong Qichang” (1555-1636) inscriptions on facing page of each leaf, this work has long been considered the pinnacle of Gu Family embroidery, the most keenly sought-after luxury commodities at its time and the type of embroidery that would alter the course of development of this old art form for the entire Qing dynasty (1644-1911). It graced the Complete Collection of Chinese Art (Zhongguo meishu quanji), was the only pictorial embroidery chosen in textbook surveying art in China, and marked as the representative work when Gu Family embroidery enlisted the National Intangible Cultural Heritage of China. To viewers of our time, it is “the” embroidery of late imperial China. However, it has rarely been noticed that this work was not part of the Qing imperial collection and did not enter the Palace Museum until the 1960s. In fact, it was once sold at an antique shop in Liulichang, Beijing in the 19th century and was in the hands of a private collector in early Republican period. The canonic status of this work was a rather recent development. By tracing the social life of this masterpiece, I deconstruct the myth that these embroideries were merely a talented woman’s pastime and “art for art’s sake.” I shall show how reception of this work extended beyond the boudoir in the late Ming. By exploring the ways in which this album shaped the idea of Gu Family embroidery and the rationales for its canonization in the twentieth century, I offer a critical perspective on how it has affected the recent revival of Gu family embroidery now designated as intangible cultural heritage of Shanghai.

Suzanne E. WRIGHT

University of Tennessee

Jiupai: Performance and Play

Several sets of woodblock-printed playing cards for drinking games have survived from the late Ming and early Qing dynasties in the collection of the National Library of China in Beijing. These bear images and some combination of extracts from dramas, poems, monetary values, domino patterns, and drinking instructions, The addition of pictorial imagery to printed drinking cards seems to be a development of the Ming dynasty, yet another aspect of the expansion of visual culture. Several sets of designs for drinking cards from the late Ming and early Qing have been preserved in book form, as well. Traces of the history of the cards can be seen in the printer’s marks, stains, graffiti and damage that mark them. Descriptions of the use of such cards survives in novels of the period, and the evidence of the instructions and images on the cards, show that there is a strong performative aspect to drinking games using jiupai. Although some of the drinking instructions are based on simple correspondences between personae in the narratives depicted and players, others require a player or players to perform actions that reenact certain aspects of the textural and pictorial narrative of the card. Numerous other drinking games, involving the use of playing cards or other gaming devices, require similar types of role-playing. While the ritualistic or performative aspects of traditional Chinese culture have often been remarked upon, performance theory has not been widely applied to Chinese cultural forms other than the theatrical. In this paper, I would like to investigate the concept of social performance in Chinese culture in relation to such games and how material objects may have, on the one hand, recorded cultural performances and, on the other, engendered or influenced performance through their use.


ChairMarie LAUREILLARD (Lumière University Lyon 2)

WANG Wenxin

Palace Museum, Beijing

“The Decaying Brushstrokes Inscribed Are Where Your Divine Spirits Rest”: The Creation of Painting Inscriptions as Controlling the Past, Present, and Future

With the rise of material culture studies, the academia has paid a growing attention to the materiality of Chinese paintings and their roles in the everyday life of Chinese painters. But this attention is largely constrained to the visual part of Chinese paintings. The verbal part, i.e. those inscriptions that the paintings are bearing, is much more often considered as a secondary component, whose value is no more than a convenient source of information to aid one to understand the visual part. This study, however, considers Chinese painting inscriptions as things of dual natures: they are certainly texts, yet they are also objects that can be touched, trimmed, damaged and even destroyed. This study is concerned with a particular situation of creating painting inscriptions in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The situation is re-encountering an old inscription that one had once created, owned, or seen before, or re-encountering a painting that had carried many inscriptions by people in the past. There are a number of Ming inscriptions that were written under this circumstance. Some of them exerted practical functions that went beyond lyricism and aestheticism. This study examines these Ming painting inscriptions, and explores these cultural and social functions behind their creation. This study shows that the inscriptions projected the presence of the inscriber as an extension of his or her physical existence, so that he or she could intervene in the here and now, as well as the there and then. Producing a new inscription in response to an old one thus became Ming people’s trick to control the environment they lived in, or even to control the remote future.


Rennes 2 University

Réévaluation iconographique du paysage : peintures et poèmes de méditation aux XVe et XVIe siècles

Dans l’œuvre des trois grands peintres de l’Ecole de Wu, Shen Zhou 沈周 (1427-1509), Tang Yin 唐寅 (1470-1524) et Wen Zhengming 文徵明 (1470-1559), il est possible de distinguer un type iconographique habituellement confondu dans le vaste genre shanshui 山水 (« paysage »). Il s’agit en effet d’un paysage dans lequel un homme assis a pris place, parfois sous un kiosque près d’un brûle-parfum, parfois au bord d’un cours d’eau. Ce type iconographique n’est pas fréquent avant le XVe siècle et, après un examen approfondi des colophons, il apparaît que les poèmes inscrits relèvent d’un genre particulier qui narre des expériences de méditation ou expose une conception de cette pratique très répandue au XVIe siècle. Ce genre littéraire s’enracine dans une tradition ancienne, mais prit une importance nouvelle dans l’œuvre poétique de Chen Xianzhang 陳獻章 (1428-1500), le grand lettré qui fonda un nouveau courant confucéen, l’école du Cœur. Il convient de replacer la production de Wu et, dans le contexte syncrétique de cette pensée novatrice, de comprendre les colophons comme des témoignages d’une quête spirituelle qui visait à retrouver l’unité universelle. Les peintures sont bien différentes des gravures contemporaines qui décrivent les postures de méditation, notamment par la place accordée au paysage qui prend une valeur métaphorique ; il représente la continuité entre l’individu et son environnement, et révèle l’état intérieur du méditant. Cette présence du paysage, qui peut être observée dans la poésie de Chen Xianzhang, est aussi une caractéristique de l’écriture de Gao Panlong 高攀龍 (1562-1626), grand adepte de la méditation confucéenne à la fin de la période.

Revaluating Landscape Iconography: Painting and Poetry of Meditation during the 15th & 16th Centuries

In the work of three great painters of the Wu school, Shen Zhou 沈周 (1427-1509), Tang Yin 唐寅 (1470-1524) and Wen Zhengming 文徵明 (1470-1559), certain paintings usually included in the genre of shanshui (山水 landscape) can be distinguished as another iconographical type: A man is seated within a landscape, sometimes under a pavilion near an incense-burner, sometimes beside a stream. This iconographical type was not very common before the 15th century. After a close study of the colophons, it appears that the poems inscribed on the scrolls are related to a literary genre that describes the experience of meditation or sets out philosophical conceptions of these practices, which were very common during the 16th century. This literary genre is deeply rooted in an old tradition, but it gains importance in the poetic oeuvre of the great literatus Chen Xianzhang 陳獻章 (1428-1500), who founded a new Confucian movement, called the School of the Heart. I shall present the production of the Wu School in the context of this new syncretic thought, studying colophons as an expression of a spiritual quest that sought to turn back to the Great Unity. Paintings obviously differ from contemporary prints that only describe the positions of meditation, notably for the importance given to the landscape, which takes on a metaphorical value: Landscape embodies the continuity between individuals and natural surroundings, expressing the internal state of the practitioner. This particular presence of the landscape, which can be seen in the poetry of Chen Xianzhang, is also later a characteristic of the writings of Gao Panlong 高攀龍 (1562-1626), the great theoretician of Confucian meditation in the beginning of the 17th century.

Pedith CHAN

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Visual Travelogue of Scenic Mountains: Yu Jianhua’s Travel Albums

Album is a unique and one of the most intimate formats of Chinese Painting. Mounted in a book-like format, an album consists of a set of leaves put together in sequence with one consistent theme. With central focus on artworks, an album also includes blank leaves to allow viewers to leave their comments and inscribe colophons after appreciating the artworks. Therefore, the format of album offers a timeless platform for continued conversations between the artists, viewers and collectors. This paper focuses on a set of albums created by Yu Jianhua (1885-1979) in the 1930s, exploring the correlation between art, travel and nationalism. It will analyse Yu’s travel albums side by side with textual travelogue and examine the colophons inscribed on the albums, aiming to reconstruct the social lives of the albums and unravel the layered meanings attached to travel painting. As one of the prominent artists who asserted the value of Chinese art, Yu Jianhua formulated his theory of sketching from life and put the theory into practice through making travel paintings. Adopting the Western sketching method, Yu used the Chinese albums instead of drawing papers to document his travel experience. The aesthetic choices deployed by the artist suggest how traditional landscape aesthetics were transformed and gained currency in modern China. The colophons inscribed on the albums reveal the complex interactions between Yu’s travel sketches and viewers from his social network, including politicians, artists, businessmen and journalists. The study of the albums thus sheds light on our understanding of the objects not only as works of art but also as historical documents, which offers a different perspective for us to approach the cultural history of modern China.

Thomas KELLY

University of Michigan

The Poetry of Ink in Late Imperial China

Throughout pre-modern China, ink (mo 墨) served as a fundamental medium of writerly expression. In this paper, I ask how poets in the late imperial period sought to make sense of this shape-shifting, yet utterly prosaic substance—one that sustained the very art of writing. How, in other words, did leading literary figures of the late Ming and early Qing dynasties imagine their relationship to the material basis of their trade? More so than any other writing implement, ink was defined by its physical metamorphoses, its transmutation from a tangible objet d’art to a dark, lustrous fluid, and finally to the dry, permanent trace of a character. Poets looked for inspiration in ink’s unstable materiality, thinking through its fluctuations in order to reflect on the transformative power of writing itself. During the sixteenth century, as scholars became increasingly invested in making their own ink, they turned to poetry to justify their involvement in artisanal craft. At the same time, however, leading commercial ink-manufacturers commissioned sophisticated poetic endorsements with which to label and inscribe their merchandise. Focusing on the eminent Huizhou poet, Wang Daokun 汪道昆 (1525–1593), a figure at the center of these two trends, I show how poetry on ink became a critical venue for questioning the respective roles of the “scholar” (shi) and the “artisan” (gong) in the late Ming. Turning to the labels and poetic inscriptions on surviving ink-cakes, I conclude by examining how the physical design of these artifacts afforded new possibilities for literary advertisement in early modern China. While scholars looked to poetry to make sense of ink, the lives of Ming commercial ink-cakes started to recalibrate understandings of the “poetic.”


Chair: Ping FOONG (Seattle Art Museum and University of Washington)

Bonnie CHENG

Oberlin College

Meaning and Value in Underground Tombs

My paper explores the social lives and meanings of objects in ancient to medieval tombs in China by reconsidering a central methodological question: how do we understand meaning or value of objects in a tomb? Interpretations of burial goods gesture to at least two different systems of meaning: as they functioned for the dead in an imagined afterlife and as they function as emblematic of a life lived. Mingqi (“spirit vessels”) made expressly for the grave gesture to the former, while exotic luxuries that were literal objects of exchange – glass, silver, or textiles from Sassanid Persia or other Western regions– signal the latter. Further still, items used in life were assembled and placed in the grave but rendered nonfunctional. Resituated in the tomb, these objects become part of a wholly new context in which objects and ideas are combined and defined relationally. I reconsider this fundamental question by aligning the issue of the afterlives of objects against the holistic tomb context and posing two questions. First, who is the audience? What value do burial goods have for the living vs. the dead? How do we understand the complex network of patronage when both the dead and living descendants inform the production of a tomb? Second, what interpretative framework can we use to understand this distinct circulation of material in underground tombs? Scholars have studied the agency of the living and that of the dead, but can we think about the agency of objects as they reference multiple systems of meaning or signification? How might the relational definition of burial objects as distinct from items used by the living expand our understanding their roles or value? Might we, in China studies, offer frameworks that in turn elucidate the original question of the social lives of objects?


University of Munich

He zun zhuan 何尊傳: From an Agent in the Early Chinese Polity Formation to the Treasure of the State

The He zun 何尊 (ca. 1000 BCE) is a massive bronze goblet, square in section, decorated with animal masks and flamboyant openwork flanks. An inscription of ca. 400 characters is hidden inside its belly. It describes a sacrificial ritual performed by a king of the Zhou dynasty (1046-256 BCE) and quoting the king’s speech addressed to the vessel’s commissioner. It commemorates the conquest of Shang and the dynasty’s founder King Wu, further reflecting on the king’s current political agenda. It points to the commissioner’s role as a royal relative and political associate. The He zun is one of the earliest and most important of thousands inscribed bronzes that were cast to forge solidarity within the Zhou political elite and that facilitated this early polity’s workings. During the next three millennia, the He zun stayed underground in the tomb of its commissioner or his descendant. About 1925, as the young Republic China disintegrated, a local guerilla leader Dang Yukun deployed tomb-looting troops to search for bronzes as to use them to buy weapons and to defend his small “princedom” against a higher-level warlord. One looter stole the vessel from the dig and hid it in his yard. In 1963, the He zun was rediscovered. Only after the Cultural Revolution, its inscription came to light and its historical significance has been recognized. Since then, it made a steel “career” in the hierarchy of cultural relics. Since 2002, it counts among the 64 guo bao 國寶 “National Treasures” of the PRC. The present paper traces this amazing “object biography” and discusses various functions of objects in processes of construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of political identities, communities and narratives.

ZHU Pinyan

University of Kansas

Avalokiteśvara in Gold: The Transformation of a Devotional Image at Dazu Grottoes

The 12th-century Buddhist sculptures carved into living rocks of Dazu in Sichuan province, China, have served different functions, received varied interpretations, and taken on multiple contemporary social roles in the last century. These conceptual changes were materialized with the completion of renovating the colossal sculpture of Thousand-Handed, Thousand-Eyed Avalokiteśvara in 2015, after which vibrant colors and glittering gold masked the originally weather-beaten stone surface. With the aid of TV and Internet, the lavish and unprecedented renovation shocked and confused its audience nationwide. By examining the motivations for the latest refurbishment, my paper will reveal how different individuals and institutions perceived this Buddhist image since the 17th century. I argue that the renovation project transformed the religious image into both local and national agency to realize economic and cultural prosperity. From a Buddhist perspective, renovating devotional images is efficacious and historically rooted. Nevertheless, the religious reason alone does not justify the contemporary project, and I propose one of the driving motivations is the belief that the production and worshipping of religious images could facilitate the local economy. This idea has been a conviction of government officials since the beginning of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Another motivation comes from the modern perception of religious images as works of fine arts. Since the 1940s, archaeologists and art historians have underlined the aesthetic value of Dazu and its sculptures. Analyzing written texts in local gazetteers, scholarly publications, and visual representations of Dazu in mass media, I demonstrate that these factors have effectively conditioned contemporary viewers’ perceptions of religious images. In the studies of material culture, my investigation shows how regional historical and social factors complicate the cross-cultural phenomenon of the secularization of sacred objects in modern societies.




National Gallery In Prague

From Ritual to Colonial Fantasies: Chinese Ritual Objects as Part of Western Collections of Chinese Art in the Inter-War Period

Chinese ancestor portraits, a unique sub-genre of the age-long genre of figure painting, were not primarily considered as works of art in their original context. They were painted by artisan painters, followed a complex set of rules in their execution and were normally used in rituals, far from being handled as “works of art” in China. They were an object of veneration and represented, it can be even said – impersonated – the deceased person. Thus, they were only exhibited on specific occasions – on the New Year, during the deceased ancestor’s anniversaries etc. Nobody would think about collecting them or trading them as part of the business in art and antiquities. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, however, Western collectors appeared, who started to buy Chinese ancestor portraits from the families impoverished during the ups and downs of the last decades of the imperial era, and saw something completely different in them. Enchanted by the romantic (and heavily colonial) visions of the twilight of an ancient empire, by the fantastic tales about Chinese social life and customs, by the vision of the role of Manchu’s as the guardians of the imperial order etc., the foreigners weaved the portraits into their charged rhetoric of the once imperial grandeur and contemporary decline. They often insisted upon the fact that the portraits depicted past emperors, empresses, generals and princesses, even though the paintings themselves did not bear any sign of their subject’s true identity. Moreover, when we analyze the thriving collections of “oriental curiosities” of the inter-war era more closely, a number of other ritual objects can be found, which had no doubt played similar roles in the European colonial fantasies. Dragon robes, official caps, ceremonial rings and necklaces, and a number of other objects can be identified as part of these collections, which used to bear specific ritual functions, but were collected as curios and evidence of the oriental splendor by the Westerners. The paper will elaborate on the European and American collections of these objects and the context of their formation. It will build upon both literary and historical sources, such as the Decadence Mandchoue or Annals and Mémoirs of the Court of Peking by the infamous Sir Edmund Backhouse, the exhibition catalogues of early European shows of Chinese art by Josef Martínek, Vojtěch Chytil, and others, as well as the catalogue quite significantly titled Portraits of the Court of China (1942) by Alan Priest, which introduces portraits later acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The paper will aim to show how the ancestor portraits and other ritual objects changed their identity to an illustration of colonial fantasies in the early 20th century and as such got to a number of Western collections.

XU Lufeng


Usuels, disciplinés, violents : Les couteaux portés par les bonzes du temple Shaolin

Les couteaux en Chine sont considérés tant comme une arme dérivant de l’âge du bronze que comme une des nécessités quotidiennes apparaissant dans la cuisine, alors que leur dimension religieuse et symbolique est souvent négligée. La présence de couteaux dans le bouddhisme chinois est remplie de tension, du fait que, d’un côté, des règles interdisent aux bouddhistes de tuer des êtres vivants en utilisant des couteaux, et, de l’autre, que l’image de moines martiaux portant des couteaux apparaît fréquemment dans les récits guerriers à la fois réels et imaginaires. Grâce à son statut fondateur de l’école Chan 禪 et à sa tradition des arts martiaux, le temple Shaolin a eu une relation étroite avec l’utilisation des couteaux dès son établissement sous les Dynasties du Nord et du Sud (420-589), si bien que la forme et l’usage des couteaux de Shaolin ont beaucoup influé non seulement sur la vie profane en dehors du temple, mais aussi sur l’évolution historique des armes blanches en Chine. Les couteaux portés par les bonzes, généralement appelés jiedao 戒刀, possèdent une tri-fonction au sein du temple Shaolin. Premièrement, les couteaux sont utilisés pour raser la tête de ceux qui se font moines durant l’opération d’ordination. Quant à la deuxième fonction, les couteaux sont conçus comme outil au quotidien, pour tailler par exemple l’habit des bouddhistes. La troisième fonction des jiedao, transgressant violemment les règles, est associée à la force corporelle ou militaire. Un bon nombre de récits historiques ou légendaires ont enregistré l’utilisation sanglante des couteaux chez les moines du Shaolin, parmi lesquels deux histoires sont bien connues : l’une met en scène le deuxième ancêtre du Chan Huike 慧可 qui se coupa le bras gauche pour montrer sa volonté de suivre Bodhidharma, l’autre concerne les moines martiaux du Shaolin qui s’engagèrent en portant des couteaux dans les guerres contre les envahisseurs japonais à la fin des Ming. En traitant le jiedao comme un objet à la frontière entre sacré et profane, entre inoffensif et violent, cette communication se propose de retracer l’évolution historique des jiedao dans le contexte de la culture matérielle chinoise.

Ordinary, Disciplined, Violent: Buddhist Monks’ Knives in the Shaolin Temple

Knives in China are considered both as a weapon dating back to the Bronze Age as well as one of the daily necessities in the kitchen, while their religious and symbolic dimension is often neglected. The presence of knives in Chinese Buddhism is replete with tension, because, on the one hand, the rules forbid Buddhists to kill living beings by using knives, and, on the other hand, the image of warrior monks carrying knives often appears in war stories both real and imaginary. Due to its status as a founding institution of the Chan 禪 school and its martial arts tradition, the Shaolin Temple has had a close link with the use of knives since its establishment in the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589), to the point that the shape and usage of Shaolin knives have greatly influenced not only secular life outside the temple, but also the historical evolution of bladed weapons in China. The knives employed by the monks, generally called jiedao 戒刀, have a triple function in the Shaolin temple. As a primary function, knives are used to shave the heads of those who would become monks during the ordination ceremonies. As to the second function, knives are designed as a daily tool, for example, to trim Buddhist robes. The third function of the jiedao, violating the rules of Buddhism, is associated with bodily or military force. Many historical and legendary stories have recorded the bloody use of knives among the Shaolin monks, in which two stories are especially well-known: One concerns the second patriarch of Chan, Huike 慧可, who cut off his left arm to show his will to follow Bodhidharma. The other recalls the Shaolin warrior monks who engaged in the wars against the Japanese invaders at the end of the Ming. By treating the jiedao as an object at the border between the sacred and profane, between harmless and violent, this paper aims at retracing the historical evolution of jiedao in the context of Chinese material culture.


Boston University

Produire et consommer le sang du Christ en Chine protestante d’aujourd’hui

Cette communication présente comment quatre dénominations protestantes de la ville de Nanping, au nord du Fujian, ont depuis les années 70 revisité la manière dont elles produisent, transportent, entreposent et consomment le liquide présenté comme « sang du Christ » durant leurs services religieux. Nous montrerons dans un premier temps les tensions liées à la production de ce liquide. Fabriqué à base de raisin, un produit largement étranger à la Chine du sud des années 70, et d’autres additifs constamment discutés et contestés, nous verrons que la manière de produire une boisson ‘religieusement correct’ n’a cessé d’évoluer depuis l’ouverture du marché chinois dans les années 80. Aujourd’hui, alors que les différents modes de fabrication et fermentation demeurent, une partie croissante de la production est assumée par des fournisseurs spécialisés et protestants du nord du pays, proche d’Harbin. Dans un second temps, nous présenterons les tensions liées au stockage et au transport de ce liquide, notamment avant et durant les services religieux de ces Églises. En l’espace de 40 ans, la popularisation du plastique et du verre à remplacer l’usage des contenants en bois tout en poussant à redéfinir les manières de se rapporter à ce liquide chargé de valeur religieuse. Enfin, nous présenterons la pluralité des façons dont ce liquide est consommé durant les offices religieux puis traité et/ou détruit après ces offices. Si certaines Églises encouragent, sous certaines conditions, le fait d’en emporter chez soi, d’autres interdisent cette pratique. Dans tous les cas, la manière de nettoyer des coupes et conteneurs soulèvent des débats constants à l’intérieur de ces communautés protestantes chinoises. Ainsi donc, notre présentation donnera à voir comment la trajectoire de ces liquides de leur production à leur consommation offre un nouvel angle d’approche pour comprendre la réalité du protestantisme chinois. A un niveau plus théorique, la vie de ces liquides et des relations que les protestants entretiennent avec eux, invitent à une approche plus matérielle du christianisme chinois qui ne se limite pas aux discours et valeurs que cette religion est censée promouvoir.

Producing and Consuming the Blood of Christ among Chinese Protestants Today

This paper presents how four Protestant denominations in Nanping City, northern Fujian, have since the 1970s redefined the ways in which they produce, transport, store and consume the liquid presented as the “blood of Christ” during their religious services. First, we show tensions surrounding the production of this liquid. Made out of grapes, a fruit which was not indigenous to Southern China in the 1970s, and of other additives constantly discussed and disputed, we will see that the “religiously correct” way to produce this beverage has constantly evolved since the opening of the Chinese market in the 1980s. Today, while different techniques of production and fermentation still exist, a growing part of the production comes from specialized Protestant suppliers from Northern China, near Harbin. Second, we will introduce tensions surrounding the storage and transportation of this liquid, especially before and during religious services. Over the last forty years, the popularization of plastic and glass replaced the use of wooden containers and pushed believers to reevaluate their relation to this religiously defined liquid. Finally, we will present the variety of ways this liquid is consumed during religious services and/or destroyed afterward. If some Churches support the act of bringing back home some of this liquid under specific conditions, others forbid such a practice. In any case, the way to wash cups and containers constantly raises debates within Chinese Protestant communities. Therefore, this paper will demonstrate how the trajectory of these liquids from their production to their consumption provides a new angle to explore and understand the reality of Chinese Protestantism. At a more theoretical level, the life of these liquids and the relations that Protestants maintain with them, invites us to a more materially informed study of Chinese Christianity which does not limit itself to discourses and values that this religion is supposed to promote.

LEI Yang


Creation and Reconstruction of a Soundscape: The Great Buddhist Bell of the Yongle Era in the Local Literature of Peking, 1600-1900

Cast in the early fifteenth century in Peking, the great Buddhist bell of the Yongle 永樂 era (1403-1424) is one of the largest extant bells in the world. More than a dozen sutras and more than 140 dhāraī ritual formulas, in Chinese and in Sanskrit, are inscribed on this gigantic object, for a total of more than 230,000 characters. From the moment the great bell was installed in the Wanshou Temple 萬壽寺 by the Wanli 萬曆 era (1573-1619), it began to attract the attention of the Peking literati. In their official or private writings, the scholar-officials not only described the great bell as an important ritual object, but also spoke of its remarkable sounds as a special soundscape. Due to the change of dynasty and the relocation of the great bell, this soundscape changed over the years. The present paper aims at showing how this soundscape was described and how it changed in the local literature of Peking during the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. By using local gazetteers, anecdotes, travel notes and poems as primary sources, along with the methods of material and cultural history, this paper will analyze the major factors that influenced the creation and the reconstruction of such a soundscape. It shows that, each time the bell was moved, the local literati redefined the religious meanings and the range of its sounds by taking into account the religious functions of the temple that sheltered the bell at that time. The bell’s sounds were actually a symbol of the temple’s prestige and contributed to the diffusion of the temple’s reputation in the acoustic space created by the great bell.

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