Representing Guizhou: Imagery From Ming (1368-1644) To The Modern Era

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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East Asian Languages & Civilizations
Huang Xiangjian
Meng Guangtao
Zou Yigui
Asian Studies
History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology
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Weng, Chuanxin

This dissertation focuses on three painters who represented Guizhou Province at three different times from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. Through their lives, the landscape that inspired them, and textual sources one has a rare glimpse at interpretations of space, historic memory, and politics in a region of China’s southwestern frontier. The first chapter addresses the only three surviving paintings attributed to Huang Xiangjian 黃向堅 (1609-1673) with Iron-Chain Bridge as a subject. While providing explanations for the spurious authenticity of an album leaf in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this chapter investigates the ways in which this leaf was reproduced. The gazetteer Tieqiao zhishu 鐵橋志書 (Record of Iron-Chain Bridge), published in 1665, includes illustrations of Panjiang that show convincing link to the leaf, attesting to the circulation and exchange of images and knowledge about the Iron-Chain Bridge. Chapter two discusses Landscape Contemplating Me, an album painted around 1743 by Zou Yigui 鄒一桂 (1686-1772). Following detailed readings of the twenty-two leaves and their inscriptions, the chapter surveys the established sets of jing 景 (scenery) in five Guizhou gazetteers from Ming (1368-1644) to Qing (1644-1912). Consulting Ming route books, the chapter then argues that the postal routes informed the selection of the views in Landscape Contemplating Me. Discerning disjunctions between album leaves and gazetteer representations of the same locations, the chapter argues that politics operates in the absence of images. Chapter three presents a Guizhou native, Meng Guangtao 孟光濤 (1917-1987), who is deemed “the Founder of Modern Guizhou Landscape Painting.” Meng’s depictions of Guizhou are distinguished by an underlying modernist agenda. Considering his paintings about railway construction, the Long March (1934-1936), and the habitats of ethnic groups, this chapter showcases a modern vision of Guizhou which is inextricably intertwined with the tumultuous shifts in society and politics in twentieth-century China.

Nancy S. Steinhardt
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