Catalogue from the exhibition held at Princeton University Art Museum, March 5 - June 26, 2005.; For more than a thousand years, the burial site known as the Wu Family Shrines in the Shandong Province of northeastern China has served as a benchmark for the study of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE) - a defining period in Chinese history that helped shape the artistic, cultural, intellectual, political, religious, and social foundations for Chinese civilization.
The inscriptions and pictorial carvings on the stone slabs from this family cemetery complex are the basis for much of what is now known about critical dates concerning artistic, literary, cultural, and architectural developments from one of ancient China's richest cultural eras. Depicting emperors and kings, heroic women, filial sons, and the recently dead, these famous carved and engraved reliefs were intended to teach such basic "Confucian" themes as respect for the emperor, filial piety, and wifely devotion. Recarving China's Past presents groundbreaking scholarship that prompts significant reexamination of the site's long-accepted implications, including its attribution to the Wu family. The catalogue reinterprets the cemetery structures bases on the discovery, since the 1980s, of additional structures and archaeological materials, and evidence that some of the writting and pictorial carvings at the site may have been re-cut over the intervening centuries, essentially recarved to fit prevailing attitudes and assumptions about the Han era. Written by a team of distinguished scholars in the fields of Chinese art and history, the book includes essays on Han funerary rituals, the architecture of the Wu cemetery, the artistic representations depicted in the carvings, and artisan practice and stone workshops in Shandong Province during the Han period. The ink-on-paper rubbings of the carvings are presented in architectural layout, and the objects in the exhibition are illustrated in full colour. The scholarly entries address selected objects from different disciplines and points of view. Recarving China's Past not only furthers scholarship and understanding of this period in early China, but also presents important directions for future research.
Published by Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey, 2005
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