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Playing host to cultural prestige : imperial agency in two Manchu kesi Kares, Jean Louise 2010

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   PLAYING HOST TO CULTURAL PRESTIGE: IMPERIAL AGENCY IN TWO MANCHU KESI   by  JEAN LOUISE KARES  B.A., Western Washington State College, 1974    A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS  in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES  (Art History)    THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  May, 2010   © Jean Louise Kares 2010  ii ABSTRACT  Rice Planting and The Hunt, two rare kesi 緙絲 (silk tapestry) in the collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Victoria, Canada), dated to the Kangxi period (1662-1722), are part of a program to reshape Chinese culture in order to confirm the legitimacy of the new Qing regime.  This thesis situates Rice Planting and The Hunt within the questions of how and why the Manchu played host to the prestige of kesi to reinforce their narrative of imperial lineage and command of high Chinese culture.  As a pair, these works contain cultural contradictions as Rice Planting is set in southern China and refers to Confucian concerns, whereas The Hunt is set in the north and emphasizes Manchu cultural identity. While the kesi are noteworthy as individual works, their pairing extends their meaning and sharply foregrounds the political and societal tensions and aspirations of the time.  This thesis argues that aspects of Song dynastic rule (960-1279) provided a model for the Manchu and tempered their approach to governing China and the personal demeanor of the emperor.  The kesi are analyzed in relation to established themes and motifs within Chinese art, including the important Song genres of gengzhi tu, pictures of agricultural practices, and fanzu tu, depictions of nomadic tribes.  Rice Planting and The Hunt are situated within the framework of relationships that existed between the works and their audiences through patronage and display.  Alfred Gell’s theory of art and agency helps to contextualize how the works acted as social agents to communicate the state’s message, supported the authority and legitimacy of the dynasty, and were part of the network of the distributed personhood of the emperor.  The kesi are further interrogated with regard to practices of copying, a key aspect of Chinese art, and posits that the transfer of conventions between media is more accurately considered translation.  This case study of two Manchu kesi presents a new reading of the form and practice of kesi from the perspective of the study of visual culture in China, and contributes to rethinking traditional approaches to and topics in Chinese art.  iii TABLE OF CONTENTS   Abstract................................................................................................................................ii  Table of Contents............................................................................................................... iii  List of Figures......................................................................................................................v  Acknowledgements ...........................................................................................................vii  Dedication........................................................................................................................ viii  Chapter I: Introduction ........................................................................................................1  The Foreign Origin of Kesi......................................................................................4  Hosting Chinese Culture..........................................................................................7  Kesi as Containers for Cultural Prestige................................................................10  Chapter II: Looking Back to Go Forward: Kesi, Power, and Politics ...............................13  Creating Capital and Celebrating Brilliance..........................................................16  Interweaving Confucianism and the Manchu Way ...............................................21  Chapter III: Rice Planting and The Hunt as Social Agents ...............................................41  The Warp and Weft of Power................................................................................42  Expanding Agency and Attracting Auspiciousness...............................................48  “Endlessly Tangled and Involved” ........................................................................55  Kesi in Painting’s Field of Influence .....................................................................58  Translations, not Copies ........................................................................................64  Conclusion: Reading the Empire Through Rice Planting and The Hunt ..........................71  One Medium, Many Approaches...........................................................................73  Kesi for Zhuren ......................................................................................................76   iv Figures ...............................................................................................................................78  Bibliography ....................................................................................................................101   v LIST OF FIGURES   Figure 1. Rice Planting. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Victoria, Canada) ...................78  Figure 2. The Hunt. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Victoria, Canada) ..........................79  Figure 3. Diagram and woven examples of tapestry techniques .......................................80  Figure 4. Rice Planting, detail of slits ...............................................................................81  Figure 5. Kesi loom in the China National Silk Museum (Hangzhou, China) ..................82  Figure 6. Zhu Kerou, Blossoms and Bird. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China .................................................................................................................83  Figure 7. Wang Hui, The Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Seven, detail. The Mactaggart Art Collection (Edmonton, Canada).................................84  Figure 8. Qian Xuan, Wang Xizhi Watching Geese, detail of the pavilion. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.................................................................................85  Figure 9. Rice Planting, detail depicting the scholars in the pavilion ...............................86  Figure 10. Wang E, Crossing a Bridge to Visit a Friend. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China....................................................................................87  Figure 11. Tai Chin, Returning Late from a Spring Outing. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China....................................................................................88  Figure 12. Rice Planting, detail depicting farmers and scholars .......................................89  Figure 13. Jiao Bingzhen, First Shoots, 1696 edition of the Gengzhi tu. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China....................................................................90  Figure 14. Jiao Bingzhen, Planting Seedlings, 1696 edition of the Gengzhi tu. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China ........................................................91  Figure 15. The Hunt, detail depicting the emperor’s family .............................................92  Figure 16. The Hunt, detail depicting the riding lesson and archery hunting....................93  Figure 17. Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute, the Story of Lady Wenji, detail of Lady Wenji and her husband. The Metropolitan Museum of Art .........................94   vi Figure 18. Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute, the Story of Lady Wenji, detail of Lady Wenji’s farewell. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.............................................95  Figure 19. Chen Zhuzhong (att.), Lady Wen-chi’s Return to China, detail of Lady Wenji and her family. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China......96  Figure 20. Liu Guandao, Khubilai Khan Hunting. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China..................................................................................................97  Figure 21. Daoist Immortals at the Turquoise Pond. Myrna Myers Collection ...............98  Figure 22. Rice Planting and The Hunt, details of  “five coloured” clouds ......................99  Figure 23. Rice Planting, detail of deviation from the original lines ..............................100   vii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS    I am deeply grateful to my advisor, Dr. Tsao Hsingyuan and my second reader, Dr. Katherine Hacker, both of the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia.  They challenged me to meet my own high standards, and without their advice, rigor, and prodding, this thesis would not have been possible.  I greatly appreciate the cooperation of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria for providing me with access to Rice Planting and The Hunt as I developed this project.  I particularly wish to acknowledge the tremendous help of Su-chen Susan Chang, April Liu, Zoe Li, Guo Yanlong, and Angela Zhang, fellow Chinese art history graduate students who listened to my doubts, helped with translations, and offered wise advice beyond their years.  My thanks go to Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, former professor with the UBC department of Anthropology and past Asia Curator with the Museum of Anthropology, for encouraging me to pursue a Masters degree and her interest throughout the process.  My gratitude further extends to Yang Jing Huey, an extraordinary teacher of the Chinese language; to Anita Boyd Johnson for her beautiful hand calligraphy on the dedication page; and to my studio partners Ann Vicente and Ann Uusoja, whose patience and enthusiasm for my endeavor allowed me the freedom to pursue and complete graduate school.  On our parallel journeys through higher education I was sustained by sharing commiserations of setbacks and celebrations of victories with my sister, Jhan Kares Groom.  Last, but far from least, I fully credit and lovingly thank my husband Donald McWilliam, for his steadfast support and belief in me, without which I could not have undertaken this academic adventure.  viii DEDICATION       1 Chapter I  Introduction   After the establishment of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the new nomadic Manchu rulers faced a pressing need to confirm the legitimacy of their regime.  Once Emperor Kangxi (r. 1662-1722) had largely achieved the imperative to bring the empire under control, he turned his attention to reforming art and culture.  Rice Planting and The Hunt, two rare kesi 緙絲 in the collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Victoria, Canada), dated to the Kangxi period and measuring 235 X 135 cm each (figs. 1 and 2),1 are part of this program. Kesi was created as an elite art form in China from the twelfth century, and as art sanctioned and supported by the court, was charged with imperial power from the Song dynasty (960- 1279) through to the Qing.  This thesis situates Rice Planting and The Hunt within the questions of how and why the Manchu played host to the cultural prestige of kesi to reinforce their narrative of imperial lineage and command of high Chinese culture. As a pair of works, Rice Planting and The Hunt contain cultural contradictions.  In geographic location Rice Planting is set in the south, and refers to the importance of this economic centre of China and the series of Southern Tours made by Emperor Kangxi, whereas The Hunt references the north and Mulan, Kangxi’s hunting lodge, where Manchu cultural activities were emphasized.  Pairing a depiction of rice farming in southern China  1 Barry Till, Mandate of Heaven: Treasures from China’s Imperial Dynasties (Victoria, Canada: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, 1996), 60. Collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, gift of Mme. Renee Chipman (1977), accession numbers 1977.122.001 and 1977.122.002. These works have been exhibited separately and together as treasures of the imperial court, an illustration of farming, and a luxury court textile. Exhibitions include: Mandate of Heaven: Treasures from China’s Imperial Dynasties, August-November 1996; Rice is Life, September-November 2008; Majestic Textiles: Ancient Chinese Textiles, May- September 2008. See also the Gallery website for images: http://aggv.bc.ca/explore/8906 and http://aggv.bc.ca/explore/3869.  2 with a representation of northern nomads might appear incongruous to viewers familiar with the historic tensions between the Chinese empire and her northern neighbors.  However, I will argue that while the kesi are noteworthy as individual works, their pairing sharply foregrounds the political and societal tensions and aspirations of the time, and provides insight into the Manchu’s construction of their cultural identity.  Further, I will propose that the works can be dated to between 1696 and 1699 based on historic events that directly relate to their subject matter. The core of what would become the Manchu people was made up of a number of Jurchen tribal groups from an area north of the Korean peninsula.2 They maintained a lifestyle that combined pastoral and sedentary practices: hunting, fishing and limited nomadism and agriculture, supplemented by tributary trade, to which they were entitled as subjects of the ruling Chinese dynasty.3 In the early part of the seventeenth century, a “minor tribal chieftain” named Nurhaci (1559-1629) began uniting many tribal powers in the region to the northeast of China.4 When Nurhaci proclaimed himself the “bright khan of the Latter Jin country” in 1616, he linked himself and his followers with the twelfth century Jurchen Jin dynasty (1115-1260), whose invasion ended the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127). 5 In this, he signaled his imperial ambitions and rejection of continued subjugation by the Chinese, not to mention the widespread desire of northerners to share more directly in the wealth and prestige of China.  2 Mark Elliott, The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 48. 3 Elliott, 48-49. 4 Evelyn Rawski, The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998), 1. 5 Elliott, 56; also sentence following. Elliott points out that Ming period Jurchens were the likely descendants of the founders of the Jin dynasty in the twelfth century (47); thus the origin myth constructed by Nurhaci and Hong Taiji was not without some basis.  3 Under Hong Taiji (1592-1643), Nurhaci’s son, the Manchu defeated the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) capital of China and took over most of its land in 1644, but resistance to the conquest and the threat of rebellion remained in many areas for decades.  Nurhaci’s grandson Fulin took the throne as the Shunzhi Emperor of the new Qing dynasty, and the focus turned to consolidating the empire by solidifying the inner Asian frontiers.   In the late seventeenth-early eighteenth century, Emperor Kangxi, the son of Shunzhi, fixed the border between Russia and China, and incorporated the Mongolian steppe, the Tibetan plateau, and the Tarim Basin into the empire, increasing the number of Central Asian regions within the Manchu sphere of influence.6 Once the Manchu took control of China, the question of how to manage the large empire as foreign and vastly outnumbered outsiders became the most urgent issue.  Demonstrating that the regime had been granted the Mandate of Heaven (i.e. that their rule was legitimate) was critical to the success of the dynasty. I contend that the central subject matter of Rice Planting and The Hunt specifically refers to the mission of all the Qing dynasty rulers, which encompassed three main components: to consolidate the empire, to gain the support of the scholar-official elite as well as the majority Han population, and to preserve and maintain Manchu cultural and ethnic distinctiveness.  In part, the Manchu accomplished this by taking ownership of Chinese cultural and political forms and institutions, including a Song model of Chinese kingship and modes of visual expression.  6 Rawski, Last Emperors, 1-2. This had the further effect of diluting the power of the majority Han Chinese.  4 The Foreign Origin of Kesi Kesi was originally a West-central Asian technique used to make extraordinary tapestry-woven textiles.7 Northern nomadic peoples greatly valued silk and also held kesi in high regard; the Liao produced kesi for domestic use as fabric for clothing and furnishings and for the purposes of gifts to and trade with the Chinese from the tenth century.  This may have been a factor that encouraged Song dynasty weavers to experiment with the technique,8 adopting, adapting, and elevating it to suit Chinese taste through translating painting-like imagery in the style of the imperial academic canon into kesi.  The foreign roots of the medium along with its exclusive nature made it an ideal candidate for Qing imperial attention and projects.  The Manchu may even have seen kesi as they saw themselves: having ethnic origins separate from the Han Chinese, but endowed with imperial power. Three of the main categories of Qing imperial paintings were those that depicted state events including imperial travel, scenes of community life, and ethnographic illustrations of minority people and foreigners.9 Political content such as this, including the subject matter of Rice Planting and The Hunt, is uncommon in extant kesi.  Court sponsored artworks extended the agency of the throne, glorified the state and reinforced the legitimacy of rule. By employing kesi as an imperial art form, the Qing effectively re-appropriated a medium that was an indicator of rank across Central and northern Asia as well as China.  I believe that this connection between the development of kesi in the Song dynasty and its roots as a non-Chinese technique gave the medium an additional political cachet that encouraged its use  7 Schulyer van R. Cammann, “Notes on the Origin of Chinese K’o-ssu Tapestry,” Artibus Asiae 11, no. 1/2 (1948): 102-109. The Liao and Chinese likely learned the technique from Uighurs, who probably learned it from Sogdians. 8 Zhao Feng, Liao Textile and Costumes (Hong Kong: Muwen Tang Fine Arts Publication Ltd., 2004), 13-15. 9 Wei Dong, “Qing Imperial ‘Genre Painting’: Art as Pictorial Record,” Orientations (July- August 1995): 18.  5 during the Qing dynasty as shown in Rice Planting and The Hunt, which exist today as visual evidence of the concern over the Qing imperial enterprise. The historic importance of silk to China’s economy, political relations, and culture, and as a mark of status and imperial favour can hardly be overstated.  Beyond this, silk had important political, economic, and cultural importance to the whole of Asia.  As a specialized tapestry weave, kesi is defined first by its material, silk si 絲, used in both the warp and weft, and second, by the absence of structural connections between laterally adjacent areas, resulting in vertical slits.  Tapestry weave in general is a weft-faced plain weave,10 where the crosswise threads are tightly packed down in order to completely cover the lengthwise (tensioned) warp threads, resulting in a discernible and characteristic ribbed texture. Discontinuous weft is a distinctive feature of tapestry: each area of colour requires a separate bobbin of thread, rather than the process of ordinary weaving where one shuttle carries the weft back and forth across the entire width of the weaving.  In kesi, each weft turns back around the marginal warp of its own area, which results in slits along vertical margins between design areas (figs. 3 and 4).11 The longer the unbroken vertical, the more apparent the slit;12 this medium-specific attribute was often used to emphasize the outline of a shape by functioning as a fine dark line.13 Like other tapestries, a change in the shape of the motif requires a shift to a new marginal warp thread; thus, diagonal or curved margins between colours are formed by a series of steps.  Requiring only a simple frame or floor loom (fig. 5),  10 That is, an alternating over-under-over-under structure. 11 Ke 緙, “woven wefts,” calls attention to this distinctive feature of many discontinuous wefts. 12 Irene Emery, The Primary Structures of Fabrics: an Illustrated Classification (Washington, D.C.: The Textile Museum, 1966), 78-79. 13 The constraints of the technology meant that lines that ran parallel to the direction of the warp were extremely difficult to accomplish satisfactorily; therefore a weaver employed the characteristic slits of kesi to function as fine vertical lines.  6 true tapestry is a weaver-controlled process that cannot be accomplished any other way, even today.14 Kesi have been understudied as art objects.  To date, scholarly articles in English primarily focus on its historical origins and technical points of interest;15 no full-length study of the medium has yet been produced.  Schulyer Cammann’s important work of 1948 deserves note as among the earliest published English language research on the origins of kesi that is still regularly cited today.  In When Silk was Gold, authors James C. Y. Watt and Anne E. Wardell make a valuable contribution to kesi research in a chapter that includes discussion of the probable origins of the medium, a formal and technical analysis of Central Asian kesi, and the historic uses of the technique in Central Asia and during the Song, Yuan (1271-1368), and Ming dynasties of China.  However, they primarily focus their attention on tapestry as functional fabric, and do not discuss its use as an art form in depth or explore its political ramifications.16 Edmund Capon is singular in undertaking a detailed visual analysis in a short conference paper that examines how aspects of the imperial academic canon were adopted and adapted to kesi in the Song dynasty.17 In recent years the National Palace Museum (Taiwan), has published two catalogues for exhibitions of kesi in its collection,  14 In the present popular usage the term “tapestry” is incorrectly applied to various types of weaving and needlework of a pictorial nature, such as jacquard weave upholstery fabrics, needlepoint, and embroidery (the Bayeux “Tapestry,” actually an embroidered work, is but one famous example). 15 See Schuyler Cammann (1948), Jean Mailey (1971), Amina Malago (1988, 1991), Regina Krahl (1989), Angela Sheng (1995), Claudia Brown (2000), Shelagh Vainker (2004) and others. 16 See James C. Y. Watt and Anne E. Wardell, When Silk was Gold: Central Asian and Chinese Textiles (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997), 53-63. 17 See Edmund Capon, “K’o-ssu and its relationship with painting,” in Chinese Painting and the Decorative Style, ed. Margaret Medley, Colloquies on Art and Archeology in Asia, no. 5 (SOAS), (London: University of London, 1976): 118-139.  7 noteworthy and useful for the high quality of the photographs, but offering little in the way of analysis.18 Hosting Chinese Culture In the next chapter I will make the case that aspects of Song dynastic rule provided a model for the Manchu and tempered their approach to governing China and the personal demeanor of the emperor.  The Han Chinese feared and hated the Manchu as barbarians even before the brutal conquest that resulted in further enmity.19 Chinese suspicions of the new Qing regime and the need to maintain stability required the Manchu to demonstrate their understanding of and reverence for Confucius and Confucian rule and philosophy to prove they had received the Mandate of Heaven.  This included continuing to perform the state rites and sacrifices, upholding China’s centralized governmental structure through a commitment to education and the system of bureaucratic meritocracy, and supporting agricultural activities. Why would the Manchu follow a Song model?  The Song dynasty was a high point of scientific exploration and cultural pursuits, and its heroic demise was viewed with nostalgia. The recently conquered Ming dynasty (1368-1644) was too dangerous to be used as an example, especially given the continued resistance by loyalists; in any case, the fall of the Ming at the hands of the Manchu proved that they had lost the Mandate of Heaven, disqualifying it as worthy of emulation.  Moreover, the Ming exemplified all that the Manchu  18 See National Palace Museum, 緙織 風華: 宋代緙絲花鳥展圖錄 Kezhi fenghua: Songdai kesi huaniao zhan tulu [Weaving a tapestry of splendors: bird-and-flower tapestries of the Song dynasty] (Taipei, Taiwan: National Palace Museum, 2009) and 緙絲特展圖華 Kesi tezhan tulu [Special exhibition of tapestry] (Taipei, Taiwan: National Palace Museum, 1989). 19 Maxwell Hearn, The “Kangxi Southern Inspection Tour”: A Narrative Program by Wang Hui, Vols. I and II, (PhD diss., Princeton University, 1990), 7.  8 found objectionable about the Chinese elite: effete, arrogant dilettantes who did not fight to maintain their dynasty. Following the example of Emperor Huizong (r. 1100-1126), Kangxi revived the imperial academy of art and employed art as an instrument of rule.  The awareness that they were perceived as barbarians pushed the Manchu to demonstrate that not only were they sophisticated enough to be conversant with Chinese culture, they were capable of “doing” Chinese culture better than the Chinese themselves, proving their superiority.  An examination of an inscription by Emperor Huizong will reveal how the new art form of kesi was perceived at the highest level in the twelfth century and was invested with cultural prestige.  I will show that Rice Planting depicts an idealized, harmonious Confucian society and references time-honoured motifs from Chinese art, in line with literati concerns and the artistic principle of fugu 復古, “restoration of antiquity.”  Gengzhi tu 耕織圖, an important Song genre that celebrated the contribution of farming and weaving to the empire, is of particular note here. Chinese style governance existed in dynamic balance with practices intended to maintain Manchu identity and the need to allay the fears of the Manchu nobility of acculturation under the weight of the dominant and ancient Chinese culture.  Even before coming to power, the Manchu examined the failed examples of the Liao (916-1125) and Yuan dynasties in order to discover the missteps that could undermine a conquest dynasty. The Manchu traced their origins to a divine clan who were the ancestors of the Jurchen Jin dynasty.20 This mythic narrative was further embellished by the “Manchu Way,” a set of practices that emphasized a robust, outdoor life centered on military prowess expressed through archery and hunting that was at the core of Manchu identity.  I will argue that The  20 Elliott, 44-46.  9 Hunt is an expression of the Manchu Way in its content, and references the genre of fanzu tu 番族圖, depictions of nomadic tribes, especially popular during the Song dynasty, as well as images of Chinese hunting parties. Chapter Three situates Rice Planting and The Hunt within the relationships that were created with their audiences through patronage, how they functioned and were displayed, and the connection between kesi and painting.  The mediating role of art was central to practices of exchanging art as gifts for New Year’s and birthday celebrations, to acknowledge career advancement, as a mark of favor to a subordinate, and to repay hospitality or to create a social obligation.  Emperors gave away artwork, including pictorial textiles, to favored courtiers, relatives, and officials,21 and diplomatic gifts, tribute, and bribes almost always included silk textiles.  We have little or nothing of the views of patrons, let alone the makers of kesi, and must construct knowledge from what evidence remains by examining the “network of relationships surrounding particular artwork in specific interactive settings.”22 To do this, Alfred Gell’s theory of the “social context of art production, circulation, and reception”23 offers insights and terminology that not only aids in untangling the complex web of relationships present in these kesi but also deepens our understanding of how they performed as social agents.  Why would the Manchu be interested in being the masters of this medium?  I will argue that the two kesi discussed here are works of state: they communicate the state’s message, support the authority and legitimacy of the dynasty, and are part of the network of the distributed personhood of the emperor.  21  Craig Clunas, Art in China (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 63. 22 Alfred Gell, Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 8, and Clunas, Art in China, 13. 23 Gell, 3.  10 Kesi represent only a small portion of art output throughout Chinese history.  Its creation required virtuosity on the part of the weavers and was labour-intensive and expensive, and the command of such skill and labor announced the power of their patrons and owners.  As a measure of their exclusivity, the National Palace Museum (Taiwan) reported in a 1972 publication that compared to over 12,000 entries for painting and more than 2,000 entries for calligraphy in their collection, representing the collections of three Qing palaces, there were only 343 entries for tapestries and embroideries combined.24 In this chapter I return to Huizong’s inscription and briefly recount the history of the medium to contextualize an examination of the relationship between kesi and painting. The beauty and rarity of kesi works made them well suited to function as what are termed “auspicious presentation pictures”: compelling images of conspicuous craftsmanship that embodied multiple wishes for good outcomes and visually proclaimed virtue.  These images generated and propagated their propitious effect and drew good fortune to the centre of the empire: the emperor.25 Maggie Bickford’s extensive and thoughtful work on the agency of auspicious objects is fundamental to my discussion in this section. Kesi as Containers for Cultural Prestige As useful as Gell’s work is in framing the kesi as social agents, his exclusion of the issues of aesthetic concerns and meaning within artwork from his theory requires that we consider other ways to ground a discussion of these important aspects of art in China.  Kesi  24 Selection of Masterworks in the Collection of the National Palace Museum (Taipei, Taiwan: National Palace Museum, 1972), 9-10. The Museum holds a large percentage of what remained of the Qing imperial collection in 1949 when the works were moved to Taiwan; these proportions in the collection suggest the overall production of kesi in relation to paintings and calligraphic works, and demonstrate its relative exclusivity and rarity. 25 Maggie Bickford, “Emperor Huizong and the Aesthetic of Agency,” Archives of Asian Art 53 (2002-2003): 83-86.  11 works were generally not a topic of art criticism in historic China, as they fell into the category of functional, decorative court art and were situated outside of the arena of theoretical art discourse.  Consequently, works such as these are largely missing from the written record of Chinese art history.  Craig Clunas makes a distinction between what was articulated as “art” at the time of its production and our current understanding, which now includes various “categories of material” where a “conscious manipulation of aesthetic effects is of major importance.”26 With this in mind, Clunas further distinguishes between “Chinese art,” which customarily (and necessarily) privileges painting and calligraphy, and “art in China,” the wider scope of aesthetically oriented activity, in order to broaden the field. The study of visual culture as a whole offers us the possibility of gaining “a richer, more nuanced, not to mention more colorful, understanding of the dynamics of Chinese culture,”27 and is part of significant recent reevaluation of the field that rethinks traditional approaches and topics, seen in the work of both Maggie Bickford and Craig Clunas.  As Bickford points out, “interest in material culture and cultural studies has stimulated work that purposefully traverses barriers between classes, media, elite and popular culture, and between the so-called ‘fine’ and ‘decorative’ arts.”28 In his book Fruitful Sites, Clunas discusses the discursive practices surrounding the idea of a garden within Chinese culture, and makes a conscious effort to “manoeuver the idea of the garden into proximity with other discourses.”29  His intent is to present a more expansive way to think about cultural forms, reminding us that art history can be approached from various directions, depending on the aspects and circumstances we choose as the focus of inquiry.  The study of kesi has yet to be  26 Clunas, Art in China, 13; also sentence following. 27 Craig Clunas, Fruitful Sites (London: Reaktion Books Ltd., 1996), 9-10. 28 Maggie Bickford, “Three Rams and Three Friends: The Working Lives of Chinese Auspicious Motifs,” Asia Major 12, part 1 (1999): 128. 29 Clunas, Fruitful Sites, 9-10.  12 more academically centered.  The agency of kesi art works as containers for the cultural prestige of the imperial court and its message offers an important starting point.  This thesis is my contribution to this endeavor.  13 Chapter II Looking Back to Move Forward: Kesi, Power, and Politics The Manchu had to occupy Chinese political and cultural forms and institutions as well as China’s territory if they were to establish their authority and legitimacy as the new dynasty.  As outsiders to, yet admirers of, the “promised land” of China, the “source of wealth and the proper field for the exercise of power,”30 the Manchu lacked the spontaneous and immediate understanding and knowledge of the culture of the native Chinese participant, yet their stance as observers was an advantage when it came to solving the empire’s difficulties.31 The observer position of the Manchu enabled them to identify and draw on important attributes of the Song dynasty from the reigns of Emperors Huizong and Gaozong (r. 1127-62) that would serve to legitimize their rule of China and help them to win over and control the populace.  Similarly, their analysis of the Liao and Mongol Yuan dynasties resulted in strategies for remaining distinctly Manchu and governing as foreigners.  In their own version of Confucian harmony, the Manchu attempted to balance these two powerful and contradictory imperatives. Emperor Huizong was not only a noted collector and connoisseur, but also a painter, calligrapher and poet.  He stands out among emperors for his influence on the history of medicine, painting, music, and Daoism; as well as for his collections, compilations, and  30 Lattimore in Frederick Wakeman, The Great Enterprise: The Manchu Reconstruction of Imperial Order in Seventeenth-Century China (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985), 1:38n35. 31 Michael Baxandall, Patterns of Intention: On the Historical Explanation of Pictures (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1981; second printing 1986), 109, and Wakeman, 21.  14 catalogues.32 His passion for science, education, cultural pursuits, and patronage of the arts provided a model for Qing emperors beginning in the late seventeenth century. The Southern Song (1127-1279) reign of Emperor Gaozong was an age of great economic prosperity and cultural flowering centered in Hangzhou.33 The southern regions were consistently superior in agricultural and sericulture production, commerce, education, sophistication, and the arts.  The population had already been shifting southward for centuries due to civil wars, political turmoil, taxation, the need for a land base, and desire for a better climate; with the establishment of the dynasty the region increased further in critical political importance.34 However, the loss of the north following the Jurchen conquest resulted in a sense of dislocation and discontinuity.35 The challenges faced by the Qing emperors to maintain their cultural distinctiveness echoed the response of Southern Song rulers to the conquest of the northern territories by the Jurchens, when they “sought to recover traditional culture as a means of establishing the legitimacy of their rule and as a path to the renewal of their cultural heritage.”36 As a means to sustain their claim to rule, the Qing emperors were careful to continue enacting ancient rites of homage to heaven and earth, and also ensured the continuance of the open examination system as the means to recruit civil officials.37 The degree of  32 Patricia Buckley Ebrey, introduction to Emperor Huizong and Late Northern Song China: The Politics of Culture and the Culture of Politics, ed. Patricia Buckley Ebrey and Maggie Bickford (Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard University Asia Centre, 2006), 4. 33 James Cahill, “The Imperial Painting Academy,” in Wen C. Fong and James C. Y. Watt, Possessing the Past: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei (New York and Taipei: Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Palace Museum, 1996), 168. 34 Dieter Kuhn, The Age of Confucian Rule: The Song Transformation of China (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009), 71. 35 Ebrey, introduction to Ebrey and Bickford, 5. 36 James Watt, “Antiquarianism and Naturalism” in Fong and Watt, 219. 37 Watt, “Antiquarianism,” 219. Even before the takeover, Nurhaci and Hong Taiji employed Chinese-style examinations to recruit officials for their governments. Wakeman, 162.  15 assimilation—“sinicization”—of China’s foreign dynasties is a matter of debate.  In The Manchu Way, Qing historian Mark Elliott argues convincingly that the Manchu engaged in a highly conscious performance to appear more Chinese or Manchu depending on the political circumstances, and were largely able to maintain their ethnic identity.38 They understood that gaining the support of the southern scholars in southern China was critical as a means to counterbalance the power elite of the Manchu banner system,39 the primary institution that combined military, social, economic and political functions, central to establishing and maintaining Manchu identity.40 Starting with Kangxi, Manchu emperors took an avid interest in the imperial production of art, comprehending its importance as a “cultivated, scholarly, and classically sanctioned pursuit,” that could link the past, present, and future,41 promote and display social and cosmic harmony,42 and not only visually support their cultural identity, but also play to the taste of the majority Han population.  Even though they were without a strong painting tradition of their own, the Manchu took ownership of historic themes of art as well as Chinese visual interpretations (and stereotypes) of northern nomadic culture.  While Rice Planting and The Hunt may not have been of imperial manufacture, nonetheless their subjects are consistent with court-mandated and -promoted content, which was aligned with Confucian philosophy and elite literati culture by referencing two genres of art that were  38 For an overview of recent scholarship that argues against sinicization, see Evelyn Rawski, “Revisioning the Qing: The Significance of the Qing Period in Chinese History,” The Journal of Asian Studies 55, no. 4 (Nov. 1996): 829-850. For an alternative view of the issue, see Ho Ping-ti, “In Defense of Sinicization: A Rebuttal of Evelyn Rawski’s ‘Revisioning the Qing,’” The Journal of Asian Studies 57, no. 1 (Feb. 1998): 123-155. 39 Hearn, Kangxi Tour, 8. 40 Elliott, xiii-xvii. 41 Patricia Berger, Empire of Emptiness: Buddhist Art and Political Authority in Qing China (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2003), 64. 42 Robert J. Smith, China’s Cultural Heritage: The Qing Dynasty, 1644-1911, 2nd ed. (Boulder, San Francisco and Oxford: Westview Press, 1994), 190.  16 prominent during the Song dynasty: gengzhi tu and fanzu tu.  The gengzhi tu genre commemorated the popular and ancient theme of rustic people engaged in ordinary tasks, especially farming.  The time-honoured art historical trope of scholars in a landscape appears in Rice Planting as well, alluding to the life that was idealized among Chinese scholar- officials: the dream of rural retirement, where geng 耕 (farming) and du 讀 (study) were pursued concurrently.43 The Hunt follows both in the traditions of paintings of nomads and scenes of the Chinese gentry engaged in hunting from horseback.  Such depictions had a long history in China, appearing in examples such as Neolithic age bronze vessels, mural paintings in the Dunhuang caves and Tang dynasty (618-907) tombs, and as the subject in later scroll paintings. Creating Capital and Celebrating Brilliance The production of kesi was closely linked to the creation of cultural and political capital by virtue of its subject matter as well as its medium and material.  The impetus “to create prestige, confirm taste, or enhance legitimacy”44 that urged the production of many visual objects in the court also prompted the conversion of kesi from a luxury fabric into an art for the wall.  In the twelfth century, Emperor Huizong wrote an inscription that praised this new art form of kesi.  His inscription and appraisal tells us that these works were perceived as substantially different from prior uses of the technique as a patterning method  43 Many scholars in China called their studio or garden property
gengdu zhai 耕讀齋, “work part-time, study part-time” studio, or gengdu yuan 耕讀園, work-study garden. The most iconic case is that of Su Shi (1037-1101), who bought a field and farmed by himself when he was exiled. When an official retreated from the court, farming and studying was his preferred life to follow. I am grateful to Susan Chang for this observation. “Living in seclusion, in harmony with the rustics” was a common theme in Ming Che school academy painting. Cahill, “Academy,” in Fong and Watt, 584n67. 44 Patricia Buckley Ebrey, “Introduction to a Symposium on the Visual Dimensions of Chinese Culture,” Asia Major 12, part 1 (1999): 1.  17 for ritual clothing, wrappings for hand scrolls, and luxury furnishing fabrics.  In its new form, the medium was considered as much more than simply a method for the reproduction of paintings.  The imperial painting academy established by Huizong “celebrated keen observation, life-like description, and technical virtuosity,”45 and weavers translated this canon into kesi much as artisans had shared and adapted imagery for millennia.  So successful were they that these kesi were considered on the order of high art.  Emperor Huizong wrote: 雀踏花枝出素紈。  A sparrow alights on a flowering branch and emerges from the plain silk. 曾聞人說刻絲難;  I have heard people say kesi is very difficult; 更知應是宣和物。 Moreover, you should be aware that this was created in my reign. 莫作尋常業綉看。  Do not regard it as some common embroidery.46  Huizong’s inscription suggests the indeterminate position of tapestry in the hierarchically organized imperial art catalogues, between art (i.e. calligraphy and painting) and artisans’ work, and further, that the emperor himself is positioning kesi as fine art.  In the first line, the character chu 出 carries connotations of springing forth with conspicuous  45 Hearn, Kangxi Tour, 5. 46 宋徽宗,碧桃蝶雀圖 [Song Huizong, Picture of a flowering peach branch with butterfly and sparrow], in Lin Shuxin, 綜梭幻化的藝術:緙絲 Zongsuo huanhua de yishu [The arts from the magic of healds [harnesses] and shuttles: kesi], in 清至近代緙絲特展 Qing zhi jindai kesi tezhan, [Tapestry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries], ed. Lin Boyou (Taipei: National Museum of History, 2001), 12. I am grateful to Susan Chang, Guo Yanlong, and Yang Jing Huey for their help in locating and translating the article and inscription. Kesi is sometimes translated as “cut silk,” a physical description that was present in the older, alternate form of the word kesi, indicated by ke 刻, “cut” or “carved,” seen here. See Schulyer van R. Cammann, “Notes on the Origin of Chinese K’o-ssu Tapestry,” Orientations 20, no. 8 (August 1989): 74.  18 vitality, suggesting a depiction that went beyond naturalistic portrayal to capture the life-like spirit of the image.  The imperial academy canon stressed the pursuit of form-likeness as the most important quality in art, and “spirit-resonance” remained the supreme criteria of artistic excellence, if variously interpreted, throughout centuries of Chinese art.  A kesi by Zhu Kerou (active 1127-1162) exquisitely captures this sense of life and the tension in a moment of arrested motion between a bird landing on a branch and striking an insect (fig. 6).  Lin Shuxin states that Huizong wrote this inscription for a kesi by Zhu Kerou, who was famous during the Southern Song dynasty for her work.  If we accept this information as plausible, then Huizong must have been remarking on an early work.  Zhu Kerou is usually identified as a female weaver, unusual but possible, although in later times as weaving workshops became more professionalized the weavers were almost exclusively male.47 Huizong’s reference to “plain silk,” (susi 素絲) does not simply remark on an empty background, but alludes to the usual painting support of the time, plain-woven silk, and calls particular attention to the superiority of the lustrous, three-dimensional silk tapestry image over a flat, painted one which simply sat on the surface of silk fabric.  A tapestry woven expanse is far from merely blank; its subtle ribbed texture makes it an activated space.  The silk for the weft of kesi was not plied and accepted dye extremely well without losing its glossy surface,48 unlike the application of ink and paint which dulled it.  The characteristic slits in the woven structure contribute shadows and the effect of fine outlining, while the optical effects of the woven structure of tapestry are such that light reflects off the subtle  47 For an extensive examination of women’s contributions to the production of textiles see Francesca Bray, “Textile Production and Gender Roles in China, 1000-1700,” Chinese Science 12 (1995), 115-137. 48 Suo Yu-ming, “Some Notes on the Function and Technique of Chinese Silk Tapestry,” The National Palace Museum Bulletin 2, no. 5 (November-December 1967): 2. This avoided the texture that results from a twisted thread.  19 three-dimensional surface in a way that enlivens and lends complexity to the colour received by the eye.  This no doubt enhanced the highly valued “life-likeness” of the kesi image, not because of realistic depiction of the external form of a subject, but because of its apparent movement and shimmering vitality created through this effect.  Painting techniques were not able to duplicate this inherent aspect of kesi.  The vernacular of silk tapestry enlivened the academic image in a fresh way, and the emperor’s praise shows that kesi were considered artistic works, over and above simply having aesthetic qualities. Art historian Edmund Capon analyzed the visual characteristics of kesi in relation to the Song imperial academic canon in a short conference paper from 1976, and positioned kesi in this way: The Sung [Song] Academy was a precise and well-defined school of painting which demanded equally precise and well-defined interpretation—the sort of representation that was possible, in fact ideally suited, to the technically more restrictive field of silk tapestry weaving.49  Inventive interpretations and adaptations of painting techniques were made using the conventions of tapestry depiction, such as triangular or tripartite clusters of leaves, “marled” threads to suggest mottled colour, outlines of various widths, hachures to gradate colour,50 and so forth.51 Song weavers achieved the highest expression of refined imagery in the history of kesi.  Using extremely fine textured weave and subtle colour changes, they created tapestries that were visually indistinguishable from painting except upon close examination.52  49 Capon, 128. 50 Comb-like shapes of adjacent colours that interpenetrate adjoining areas to suggest blended or gradated colours, also known as “hatching.” 51 Capon, 123-127. 52 The fineness and number of threads and the overall scale of the design determine the amount of detail that is possible to depict in a tapestry. Pictorial kesi ranged on the order of  20 These innovations and technical achievements advertised the skill of Chinese weavers, ownership revealed the wealth and power of those commissioning kesi, and the aesthetics of the imperial academy were promoted through its subject matter.  Thus, the production of kesi afforded an opportunity for the creation of cultural and political capital as much by virtue of its form as its content.  In the third line, Huizong notes not only that this work is new and current, but more emphatically, that the kesi was a product of his particular reign, Xuanhe 宣和,53 thus celebrating the brilliance of a high art produced during his rule, and by association the brilliance of his reign.  Through the art form of kesi, the emperor gained social benefits; the emperor’s approval invested kesi with imperial prestige and agency that was recognized and employed by the Manchu over five hundred years later.  I will return to the discussion of Huizong’s inscription in the next chapter. Huizong went further than most Chinese rulers to develop the cultural side of his reign through his roles of patron, artist, and sage,54 emulating the mythical sage-kings of antiquity, who through institutions created a social order that was prosperous and peaceful.55 He presented himself to his subjects as a ruler who was concerned for their welfare, who  twenty to more than thirty-six warp threads per centimeter and ninety to 120 wefts per centimetre for Southern Song kesi. Watt and Wardell, 57, 59. Wefts in Liao kesi fabrics were even finer, ranging up to 240 per centimetre. A comparably sized high quality European Renaissance tapestry was made with approximately ten to fifteen wool or linen warp threads per centimeter. Pierre Verlet et al, The Book of Tapestry, trans. Edita S. A. Lausanne (New York and Paris: The Vendome Press, 1978), 203. 53 Xuanhe (1119-1125) was the last period of Huizong’s reign. 54 Ebrey, introduction to Ebrey and Bickford, 19. 55 Peter K. Bol, “Emperors Can Claim Antiquity Too: Emperorship and Autocracy Under the New Policies,” in Ebrey and Bickford, 190.  21 wanted to communicate directly with them and show his commitment to the basic values of Confucianism.56 Interweaving Confucianism and the Manchu Way In order to successfully govern the Chinese state, the early Qing emperors looked to the Song dynasty as a model and founded their rule on two principles: “neo-Confucian legitimacy,” based largely on Manchu “embrace of Chinese literary culture and political norms,” and ethnic sovereignty, with its particular socio-political customs.57 Confucianism, an “ethic based on humaneness, righteousness, appropriateness, filial piety, loyalty, the civil principle over the military, and the performance of rites,” guided Song governance.58 Its ideal expression promoted sympathy for the common people and concern for the economic well being of the nation.59 The Southern Song rulers sought to find the grounds for a moral society in its institutions, educational curriculum, rituals, and individuals through a more humanized neo-Confucianism,60 a creative reinterpretation of revered but stagnant Confucian institutions undertaken in an attempt to address the pressing socioeconomic problems of the day.61 As the vital link between humanity and Heaven, the emperor wielded enormous cultural power and agency, “able through his performance of ritual and his moral cultivation to affect the  56 Ebrey, introduction to Ebrey and Bickford, 22. 57 Elliott, 13. 58 Kuhn, Confucian, 29. 59 Kuhn, Confucian, 32. 60 Bol, 205. 61 Michael C. Kalton, “To Become a Sage: the Essence of Neo-Confucianism,” (Columbia University, 1988), http://washington.faculty.edu/mkalton/NeoConfucianism.htm (accessed March 22, 2010). Neo-Confucianism synthesized Daoist cosmology and Buddhist spirituality with core Confucian concerns for society and government.  22 cosmos.”62 On a more earthly level, he had the potential to promote what was right and moral through his support of people, ideas, arts, and traditions. From the Song dynasty forward, the imperial court searched for an orthodoxy that would ensure the maintenance of a harmonious, peaceful state, and enacted policies intended to ensure the uniformity of values, morality and social customs in both elite and mass society.63 Not surprisingly, the educational system was also committed to orthodoxy, including the edict of 1070 that created the painting academy.64 Emperor Huizong raised the standards of literacy and general cultural knowledge of his court artists by requiring the study of texts including the classics, not only to infuse their paintings with more literary depth,65 but also to ensure that all worked from the same ideological basis.  Like Huizong, Kangxi involved himself in reforming the imperial art academy, and was firmly committed to making use of court painting to promote his reign.66 In art as well as politics, return to the past (fugu) was a fundamental concept.67 Rice Planting and The Hunt reference, combine, and re-present their visual antecedents, in line with the distinct artistic style that began to emerge around 1682 in the twentieth year of Kangxi’s reign.  Official workshops were reestablished, and from that point forward were increased and enlarged in order to accommodate the greater demand for and production of  62 Ebrey, introduction to Ebrey and Bickford, 19. 63 Bol, 173. 64 Bol, 183. 65 Cahill, “Academy,” 161. Applicants were tested on their literary abilities and knowledge of the classics, as well as their artistic and calligraphic skills and competence in composing poetry. On the basis of the results, they were assigned as painters or to other artisan workshops. 66 Cahill, “Academy,” 160. Kangxi was also attendant and sympathetic to the tastes of the amateur scholar painters, the literati. 67 Smith, 190.  23 visual art and objects.68 The official orthodoxy of Qing court painting was based on the style of Dong Qichang (1555-1636), the foremost landscape painter and theorist of the Ming dynasty who employed a common Yuan painting method of constructing a landscape from clearly defined parts.  All the elements in a painting had roots in the works of past masters, so that paintings as a whole did not depart from established values but “sought new interacting relations” through the interplay of parts.69 This philosophy may relate to the Manchu challenge of governing a multi-ethnic empire, and as a style that developed during the reign of the Mongols, would have held political appeal for the Manchu. Throughout his artistic career, Kangxi’s leading court painter Wang Hui (1632-1717) strove to achieve the synthesis advanced by Dong Qichang.  He successfully incorporated Song narrative style with Yuan compositional elements in the Southern Inspection Tour scrolls (fig. 7), the first major imperial art commission of the Qing, completed in 1695.70  An example of imperial art that documented an important state event, Wang Hui’s work was painted in the proper and meticulous gongbi 工筆 academic style.  The scrolls were widely known, even if few individuals saw them, demonstrating their significance and agency in extending the emperor’s power.71 The series of tours of southern China undertaken by Emperor Kangxi and their documentation through art were a way for the emperor to express his interest in and concern for the people by personally viewing the region and meeting with local officials, as well as engaging in opportunities to be visibly accessible to the populace.  68 James C. Y. Watt, “The Antique-Elegant,” in Fong and Watt, 503. 69 James Cahill, “The Orthodox Movement in Early Ch’ing Painting,” in Artists and Tradition: Uses of the Past in Chinese Culture, ed. Christian F. Murck (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), 174. 70 Hearn, Kangxi Tour, 175. 71 Hearn, Kangxi Tour, 64-65.  24 The use of historical institutions, like regional tours, the civil examinations, and the art academy, fostered the “appearance of political legitimacy” and asserted imperial authority.72 Like the Southern Inspection Tour scrolls, the choice of Song dynasty models for Rice Planting and The Hunt reflects the “spirit of the times” of the Qing while recalling the goal of the Song to produce idealized images.73 The kesi are woven in a “blue-green” colour palette that was associated with the high culture of the Tang and Song dynasties and suggested the paradise of the Immortals, or a golden age.  Seasonal cycles and their associated occupations were also important in Song painting, echoed here in the representations of spring planting and autumn hunting.  Rather than following the Yuan style of calligraphic brushstrokes advocated by Dong Qichang, the imagery is simplified, boldly outlined, highly coloured, and flattened, and avoids detailed imitations of brushstrokes that could not be effectively expressed in tapestry weave.  Nevertheless, the kesi have energetic, zigzagging compositions that recall the effect of Yuan painting. Vertical piling up of elements on the picture plane was the standard practice in Chinese landscape painting.  In the Northern Song, depth was suggested by a diminution of elements; during the Yuan, a unified ground plane achieved the spatial integration of elements, while Ming dynasty painting returned “to a continuous flat decorative surface,” the influence of which is seen in these kesi.  “In all these periods, vertical superimposition and lateral juxtaposition of elements were the rule, while overlapping and fusion were the exception.”74 Both kesi employ a high viewpoint and vertically stacked elements with little overlapping of figures, and utilize several registers to arrange the composition.  Even though  72 Hearn, Kangxi Tour, 8. 73 Hearn, Kangxi tour, 177. 74 Wen Fong, “Creating a Synthesis,” in Fong and Watt, 424. See also Wen Fong, “Toward a Structural Analysis of Chinese Landscape Painting,” Art Journal 20, no. 4 (Summer, 1969): 388-397.  25 these kesi draw on Song dynasty subjects, depth is indicated by the relative position of the similarly sized figures, i.e. those higher are further away from the viewer, rather than by a reduction in size. In line with the concerns of the Han Chinese scholar officials, the underlying theme of Rice Planting is a harmonious, ordered Confucian society, where imperial subjects could pursue their proper livelihoods, eat well, safely raise their children, and be treated fairly. Contented scholars sit in a pavilion and enjoy the soft spring weather of southern China, engaging in relaxed discussion of policy or points of debate in poetry, while waited on by an attendant.  Outside, smiling, well-fed farmers prepare the fields and plant rice seedlings. This image is both a wish for and a promotion of peace and prosperity during Kangxi’s reign, and recognizes the importance of both the scholar and farming classes, the essential foundation of Chinese society. Rice Planting echoes the yearning for “freedom, release, and bucolic tranquility” that prevailed during the Song dynasty,75 possibly a response to the improved social conditions following the traumatic upheaval of the early Qing years.  Song court painting showed an utopian and secure world, a “vast garden” of aesthetic pleasure, where “even the fishermen, firewood gatherers, and buffalo herdboys go about their tasks in harmony with their unthreatening pastoral surroundings.”76 Among the reasons for this romantic imagery was the move from the bleak north to the lush south at the time of the defeat of the Northern Song and the foundation of the Southern Song dynasty.  Later, during the Ming, the bustling, overcrowded cities and the demands of government service created an increased longing for  75 Wu Hung, “The Origins of Chinese Painting: Paleolithic Period to Tang Dynasty,” in Richard Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting (New Haven and London: Yale University Press and Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1997), 114. 76 Cahill, “Academy,” 173.  26 withdrawal into nature; this was a pervasive ideal among courtiers, officials, and affluent townspeople alike, for whom similar paintings were made.77 In Rice Planting, the ideas of retreat to a rustic environment; the verdant, warm, and humid southern landscape; and farming activity are conflated. The small boat seen in the lower right of Rice Planting is a reminder that this was the means of connection with the outside world for villa owners, who normally traveled by boat in the delta region, with its many canals and rivers.78 During the early Qing, some scholar- officials loyal to the Ming dynasty withdrew and lived as hermits rather than serve the government.  However, the boat suggests that these scholars are involved in the issues of the day and fulfill the responsibilities of their offices under the new rulers.  Here, the idealized narrative of Song paintings is reiterated: an open viewing terrace under the trees faces the water, where a harried official can enjoy the evening cool and a visit with a colleague. Architectural images appeared in kesi subject matter from the time of its earliest manufacture, so it is not surprising to find a pavilion in Rice Planting.  During Gaozong’s reign the writer Zhou Mi noted that kesi wrappers for special books and mountings for fine paintings were “figured with palaces and pavilions.”79 Kesi likely gained further prestige by this association with top quality paintings, which in turn may have inspired weavers to experiment with the medium as wall art.  From the Song dynasty if not before, paintings of scholar-gentlemen sitting in pavilions, reposing under pine or plum trees, gazing at the moon, or standing on mountain terraces contemplating a waterfall became conventionalized through frequent repetition.80  One such work with relevance to Rice Planting is Wang Xizhi  77 Cahill, “Academy,” 173, 186. 78 Cahill, “Academy,” 182. 79 Cammann, “Notes on the Origin,” Artibus Asiae, 92. 80 Cahill, “Academy,” 185.  27 Watching Geese, a handscroll by Qian Xuan (1235-1300) (fig. 8).  The stone foundation of the pavilion in the painting is largely repeated in the patterning below the pavilion in the kesi (fig. 9).  Wang Xizhi looks out over a lake toward distant mountains, unlike the typical paintings of this subject that place their figures in much more remote and rugged mountainous locations; Rice Planting is also unusual in this respect, as the pavilion is surrounded by rice paddies.  Crossing a Bridge to Visit a Friend by Wang E (c. 1462-after 1541) shows a more typical setting: a raised pavilion nestles under pines in the mountains on a rocky shore, and travelers cross a bridge over a river or a lake (fig. 10).  The pavilion roof of Crossing a Bridge is thatched rather than tiled, however, the bridge in this painting is reminiscent of the simple span in Rice Planting. The orientation of the pavilion in Rice Planting is similar to the pavilions in both Crossing a Bridge and Returning Late from a Spring Outing (discussed below), with an overarching tree on the left as viewed.  The tree in Rice Planting is deciduous, as in Wang Xizhi, with a second tree behind, and the decorative detailing on the pavilion roof also recalls that of Wang Xizhi.  A famous Song dynasty kesi by Shen Zifan, Poetic Sentiment of Autumnal Mountains, similarly sites a mountain pavilion on the left side of the work.81 Thus, we can see from even these few examples that the representation of scholars in Rice Planting follows established motifs in Chinese art, and demonstrates that the Manchu were thoroughly familiar with the imperial canon. The image of peasants in the landscape was likewise a long-popular motif.  In the painting Returning Late from a Spring Outing by Tai Chin (1388-1462) (fig. 11), a scholar  81 See Kesi tezhan tulu, 10-13, plates 1 and 2. Shen Zifan evidently wove the image on two different occasions. For another blue-green style landscape by Shen Zifan, see Treasures of the Forbidden City, Zhu Jianjin, chief compiler, (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1986), 234-235, plate 92.  28 returns home, accompanied by servants, after a day in the country.  Peasants are seen in the middle ground, crossing a bridge, rakes across their shoulders, also on their way home. Three of the farmers in Rice Planting not only use the same type of tool, but one crosses the bridge with a rake across his shoulder (fig. 12).  This painting emphasizes that the government official and the farmers share similar basic desires even if their respective world- views are drastically different, a fundamental concern of Kangxi’s subjects and thus also important to the ruler, and one of the messages of Rice Planting. Paddy farming and sericulture were prevalent in the Yangzi River valley and other regions of southern China.82 Lou Shou (1090-1162), a minor official based in Hangzhou in the early Southern Song dynasty, was concerned about the hardships suffered by farmers and their families.  Following a long tradition of admonitory wall paintings dating from as early as the Eastern Jin dynasty (317-420), he composed a document of forty-five illustrations that depicted agricultural practices, known as gengzhi tu, ploughing and weaving pictures, the first serialized version of the genre.83 Lou Shou presented his work to Emperor Gaozong in 1145 in an effort to call attention to the plight of the hard-working peasants who fed and clothed the court.84 The emperor was so impressed that he ordered some of the images to be painted on the walls of the inner court as a way of increasing the awareness of officials.85 The  82 Wang Chaosheng, ed., 中國古代耕織圖 Zhongguo gudai gengzhi tu [Farming and weaving pictures in ancient China], compiled by the China Agriculture Museum, (China Agriculture Press, 1995), 2. 83 Yu Xiuling, forward to 中國古代耕織圖 Zhongguo gudai gengzhi tu in Wang Chaosheng, 1-3. Engraved images of farming and sericulture activities found on Warring States period (475-221 BCE) bronze pots are among the earliest gengzhi tu. 84 Lisa Lee Peterson, “Who Does the Weaving, Who Wears the Robe? Didactic Poems and Pictures of Ancient Chinese Weavers,” Arts of Asia (May-June 1996): 56. By the time of the Qing dynasty the original existed only in the form of woodcuts, stone engravings, paintings and lithographs copied from the original or as copies of copies. 85 Wang Chaosheng, 36.  29 wider display of Lou Shou’s gengzhi tu extended Gaozong’s authority, advertising his presence while showing his proper concern for the farmers.86 Editions of gengzhi tu were produced in every subsequent dynasty, but during the Qing depictions were mass-produced and popularized as never before.  A version of Lou Shou’s gengzhi tu was drawn by Jiao Bingzhen, an official in the Department of Astronomy and Calendar, under the orders of Emperor Kangxi in 1696, who wrote a preface and added a set of accompanying poems to Lou Shou’s originals.  This version of forty-six images and their poems was engraved, printed, and distributed amongst Kangxi’s subjects,87 and is the most widely known of the many Qing editions.  The publication and promotion of gengzhi tu during Kangxi’s reign was an important strategy borrowed from the Song to distribute the emperor’s person throughout the nation in a tangible fashion while demonstrating his worthiness as a Confucian ruler through his concern not only for the well-being of the population but also for their education and edification. As a picture of farming, Rice Planting falls into the category of gengzhi tu and was likely inspired by the importance of the edition produced for Kangxi.  This is evidenced by the illustration First Shoots, which includes a building enclosed with vertical siding that overlooks a paddy.  Its overall shape is reminiscent of the open pavilion in Rice Planting, with a similar tiled roof, stone foundation, and bridge in the background (fig. 13).  The illustration Planting Seedlings, where individuals work in flooded fields separated by many raised paths, is also similar to the depiction in the kesi (figs. 14).  These contemporary references in theme and imagery strongly suggest that this pair of kesi was made after 1696.  86 This aspect of distributed personhood is made even more explicit in depictions such as the album Yinzhen xiang gengzhi tu (Portraits of Prince Yinzhen engaged in agricultural activities), which shows the future Emperor Yongzheng (r. 1723-35) dressed and working as a farmer. Wei Dong, 22. 87 Wang Chaosheng, 79-80.  30 Earlier court paintings celebrated “the lives of fishermen and others who chose to live far from the activities of the court but who were nonetheless vital to a well-functioning imperial kitchen, to the national economy, and to the well-being of society as a whole.”88 In this vein, Kangxi’s commentary for the gengzhi tu exhorts the reader to appreciate food and clothing because “all of it comes painfully, grain by grain and inch by inch, from the hard labor of the impoverished peasant,” and urges people to be aware of the labour of farmers and silk producers “so that the nation will prosper and so that everyone may be ensured a higher standard of living and a long life.”89 Even so, the gengzhi tu erased the “sweat and tears, the tatters and hunger” from the lives of the peasants,90 and likely little had changed to improve their hardship since the Song dynasty.  Nevertheless, Kangxi understood their situation, and realized that agriculture was closely tied to the prosperity or decline of the national economy, and even to his efforts to consolidate the empire and his reign.91 In Rice Planting, the popular genre of gengzhi tu is transformed to a rarified image through its depiction in silk kesi. In the same manner, the choice to use the medium of kesi elevated the representation of supposedly rough and unsophisticated northerners in The Hunt.  A new category of subject matter, fanzu tu “nomadic tribes,” appeared in the Xuanhe Huapu (imperial art catalogue) of 1120.92 Fanzu tu defined its subject as the antithesis of the Han Chinese, who believed that by exposure to China’s ordered society the barbarians would be willingly converted and  88 Richard Barnhart, “The Return of the Academy,” in Fong and Watt, 348. 89 Peterson, 56. 90 Peterson, 57. 91 Wang Chaosheng, 78. 92 Richard Barnhart, “The Five Dynasties (907-960) and the Song Period (960-1279),” in Barnhart et al., 111.  31 civilized.93 By depicting the nomads’ clothing and customs as inferior and lacking in social and moral value, the Chinese were confirmed and reassured of their cultural superiority.94 The Manchus were not, strictly speaking, a nomadic people: their historic lifestyle combined pastoral and sedentary practices, supplemented by tributary trade.95 However, barbarians, northerners, and nomads were conflated in a stereotype that was embraced, exaggerated, and challenged by the Manchu rulers, who advanced the idea of their vigorous and austere lifestyle while proving themselves to be as cultured as the southerners. The Hunt succinctly expresses the “Manchu Way,” a collection of customs and practices held to be venerable and at the heart of Manchu identity: an outdoor life founded on military discipline, archery, horse riding, ability in the Manchu language, and frugality.96 The education of children in the Way was of critical importance.  It was vigorously promoted in the eighteenth century in response to acculturation pressures, but long before that Hong Taiji advocated retention of the language and the Way as a means to keep the Manchu in power.  The earliest Manchu leaders believed that the loss of ethnic and cultural distinctiveness was a fundamental reason for the ultimate collapse of previous Inner Asian conquest dynasties.  As a “package of virtues expected of the compleat bannerman,” the Way represented a way to remain virile (“manly virtue” was considered a part of the Way); by extension, upholding the Way was a means for the Manchu to remain distinct and vital as a group, since these were qualities that they supposedly exclusively possessed.  The Way was  93 Irene S. Leung, “‘Felt Yurts Neatly Arrayed, Large Tents Huddle Close’: Visualizing the Frontier in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127),” in Political Frontiers, Ethnic Boundaries, and Human Geographies in Chinese History, ed. Nicola Di Cosmo and Don J. Wyatt, (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003) 193-194, http://lib.myilibrary.com/browse/open.asp?id=17418&loc (accessed April 26, 2010). 94 Leung, “Felt Yurts,” 193. 95 Elliott, 48-49. 96 Elliott, 8; also the remainder of this paragraph.  32 an “idealized, identifying code for everyone in the banners, particularly males,” and maintaining it was of great political importance. The most important hallmarks of the Manchu Way were the ability to ride a horse and to use a bow and arrow skillfully, especially when mounted, and indeed, Hong Taiji credited mounted archery for the Manchu success in combat.97 These skills were not confined to the steppe people, as they were cited in the Zhou li (Rites of the Zhou dynasty, 1027-221 BCE) as among the six arts, but by the Ming dynasty such practices were not widely practiced by the urbanized elite, although archery contests were still held.  “Qing emperors singled out mounted archery as a vital feature of Manchu identity and exhorted their descendents never to abandon it”; certainly, mounted archery was associated with the northern peoples.98 The uppermost scene of The Hunt shows the Manchu emperor partaking of an outdoor meal with his wife and children somewhere in northern China (fig. 15).  A domed yurt, or felt tent, signals to us that this is a depiction of northern nomadic culture.  In the manner of a narrative handscroll with successive scenes, the centre section also portrays the emperor, still wearing a blue robe with a roundel and now on horseback, overseeing the riding lesson of the heir apparent, who can be identified by his apricot-coloured jacket.  In the lowest register, a hunter wearing a blue robe, quite likely the emperor once again, shows off his prowess by shooting at a deer from the back of a galloping horse (fig. 16).  The designer played up standard tropes for the steppes—the yurt encampment, hunters on horseback, decorated bridles of the horses, chilly wind whipping the flags, nomads seated on the ground on rugs,  97 Rawski, Last Emperors, 44. 98 Rawski, Last Emperors, 43.  33 hunting weaponry99—and then confronted these stereotypes by making the emperor of China the central figure. I believe that the setting for The Hunt is Mulan, the northern hunting preserve established by Emperor Kangxi, where he spent a great deal of time and conducted much of the empire’s business.  More than recreation, hunting was a form of military training and an expression of tribal community, as had been for the Liao, Jurchens, and Mongols.  The hunts that took place at Mulan were critical as military training exercises, but were also “a chance to escape confining court rituals and to show off a different kind of prowess than could be demonstrated in palace courtyards, one that might win imperial notice.”100 The emperor hunted at Mulan every autumn from 1681 to the end of his life, except for two years when he was engaged in military campaigns.101 Mongol nobles in rotation were invited to accompany the emperor and his retinue of Manchu elite on the hunts for deer, pheasants, and tigers, which lasted an average of thirty days and where the accommodation was nomadic-style tents.102 Kangxi was legendary in his own time for his highly developed skills in riding and shooting from horseback.  He was reportedly able to pull the bow with either hand and “according to the Veritable Records, rarely missed the target”; nobles and high officials were awestruck by his “superhuman horsemanship and archery” and “severe military countenance.”103 The emperor’s time at the hunting preserve can be seen as corresponding to and balancing his tours of the southern regions, and it was there that the emperor could model “being Manchu” to the Manchu.  Much like the opportunity to see the emperor on the  99 Leung, “Felt Yurts,” 204. 100 Elliott, 183. 101 Rawski, Last Emperors, 20. 102 Rawski Last Emperors, 21. 103 Rawski, Last Emperors, 45.  34 Southern Tours, “the hunt gave lower-ranking members of the Inner Asian elite an opportunity to come in close contact with the emperor while participating in an activity that linked the Manchus to Inner Asia.”104 Located 117 kilometres north of Chengde, outside the Great Wall, the area was associated with the Liao-Jin hunting grounds, reinforcing the historical connection to previous conquest dynasties and thus the legitimacy of Manchu rule.105 The Khitan people were an important northern nomadic culture particularly notable for establishing the Liao dynasty, which coexisted with the Northern Song.  Their success in sharing the Mandate of Heaven lent credibility to Manchu claims to Chinese rule, and was yet another reason for the references to the Song dynasty.  Their paintings were appreciated by the Chinese, imitated by some in the Song imperial academy, and were a principle source for the fanzu tu section of Huizong’s Xuanhe Huapu.106 Decorative beauty and naturalism were key attributes of Liao painting, exemplified by the well-known painting Red Deer Among Maples.107 The rich all-over ornamental quality of Liao art may well have influenced the design of Rice Planting and The Hunt, and other large-scale early Qing dynasty kesi. The Hunt further conveys the message that the Manchu had a sophisticated culture with the potential to form a productive relationship with the Han Chinese to form a strong empire.  During the Song dynasty, the northerners were considered the yin to the yang of China, and a lack of harmony between them was a sign of misgovernment.108 This recalls the Northern Song handscroll of the well-known Tang dynasty narrative poem Eighteen Songs of  104 Rawski, Last Emperors, 22. 105 Rawski, Last Emperors, 20. 106 Cahill, “Academy,” 161. 107 Collection of the National Palace Museum, Taiwan. See Fong and Watt, 162, plate 70. 108 Tao Jing Shen, “Barbarians or Northerners: Northern Sung Images of the Khitans,” in China Among Equals: The Middle Kingdom and its Neighbors, 10th-14th Centuries, ed. Morris Rossabi (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983), 73-75.  35 a Nomad Flute, which tells a version of the story of Lady Wenji (Cai Yan, c. 178-?), the daughter of a prominent Han dynasty statesman, who was abducted by northern nomadic Xiongnu raiders and forced to become the wife of the heir-apparent (fig. 17).  Although she was eventually ransomed back to China after twelve years, this ending was tragic, as Wenji had come to care for her husband and mixed race children, and now was to be separated from them forever (fig. 18).  The painter of the handscroll set the story in his own time period rather than the Han dynasty, and recast the nomadic raiders as Khitan,109 lending political comment to the painting.  Art historian Irene Leung has made a study of Song dynasty visual and poetic representations of the northern nomads, and explains how the Wenji narrative served political ends: Through dramatizing the legend in pictures, the painter persuades his audience against ethnic chauvinism by portraying Wenji's captors as part her family rather than primitive and uncouth barbarians.  In scene after scene, the nomads are shown living in sophistication and refinement appropriate for Liao royalty.  The emotions and attachments the nomads felt about Wenji are also prominently featured in the painting… The painting appears to be a remarkably bold statement that advocated peace with the Liao empire.110  In spite of Wenji’s poetry, wherein she rejects the harsh nomadic life, the later Song version of the story suggested that regardless of their differences, the two cultures could learn to respect each other and have a fruitful union.  Scenes of Wenji taking outdoor meals with her nomadic husband, the domed tents made of felt, and the fancy trappings of the horses are all visually echoed in The Hunt (figs. 17, 18, 19).  109 Irene S. Leung, “Between Stories and Their Tellings: The Legend of Wenji's Captivity and Their Historical Significance,” 1-2, http://www.asiasociety.org/arts/wenji/historical/essay.html (accessed May 26, 2009). 110 Leung, “Between Stories,” 2.  36 Pictures that celebrate the prowess of hunters and the beauty of their mounts appear in Tang dynasty tombs and the Dunhuang caves, as hunting and sport had long been popular pastimes for the Chinese aristocracy.111 Khubilai Khan Hunting (1280) by Liu Guandao (active 1275-1300) “depicts the founder of the Yuan dynasty enjoying a pastime that had by his time become alien to his Chinese subjects,” and combines both the idea of the hunting gentry and nomadic culture (fig. 20).112 Art historian Maxwell Hearn, a Qing dynasty specialist, posits that this painting shows the evolving relationship between the Mongol emperors and Chinese traditions of rulership and culture.  In it, the khan wears an imperial Chinese robe under the shaggy fur coat of a barbarian, and with a small hunting party pursues prey on horseback in the bleak expanse of the steppe.  As in The Hunt and the Lady Wenji scroll, the nomad’s horses are adorned with tasseled bridles and decorated felt saddle blankets.  Like the painting, by explicitly placing the emperor of China in a nomadic setting  111 A few examples are the mural paintings in the tomb of Prince Zhanghui, Qianxian, Shangxi Province (C.E. 706) of riders on galloping horses engaged in playing polo amidst trees (a means of improving equestrian skills), published in Barnhart et al., 71, figures 64 and 65, and a hunting scene published in Robert L. Thorp and Richard Ellis Vinograd, Chinese Art and Culture, (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2001), 192, figures 6 and 7; hunting scenes of mounted archers galloping after game in the Muyong chong Tomb (a late fourth century Bohai tomb in Jilin Province, China); the spirited, vigorous horses and “dashing young men” featured in Eight Gentlemen on a Spring Outing, Zhao Yan (tenth century) published in Barnhart et al., 109, figure 101; and the Liao scene Nomads Hunting with Falcons, attributed to Chen Zhuzhong (active c. 1200-1230) published in Fong and Watt, 271, figure 104. Some Tang dynasty fabrics were patterned with repeated images of mounted hunters; see 中國歷代染織繡圖案 Zhongguo lidai ranzhixiu tu’an [Chinese textile motifs through the dynasties], vol. 1, ed. Rong Hongjie, (Shanghai: Renmin Meishu Chubanshe, 1997) 112, 124. 112 Maxwell Kessler Hearn, “Reunification and Revival,” in Fong and Watt, 269. Hunting among the Chinese gentry was popular during the Tang dynasty, but was less practiced after that time.  37 and showing him participating in nomadic cultural activities, The Hunt conveys the value of both cultures that Kangxi personified.113 The garments worn by male figures in The Hunt further confirms their cultural identity, as ethnic separation between Manchu and Han Chinese was emphasized and politicized through a change in robe style and construction.  Manchu garments were based on the shape of an animal skin, with ease of movement and protection from the elements as key requirements.  Much closer fitting than the voluminous Ming imperial robes, the lower hem of a Qing-style robe was vented at the sides and centre front and back in order to allow for horse riding, and “a fur trimmed hat with upturned brim and a crown covered with red-dyed horsehair topped with a jeweled ornament replaced the black-lacquered gauze caps of the Ming.”114 The larger size, centrality, and repetition of the figure of the emperor make his persona unmistakable, further emphasized by the roundel and li shui border (“standing water” motif) on his dark blue surcoat, which differentiates him from the other figures in the kesi.  This depiction of his robe presents a few questions, as it is not typical for representations of Kangxi, who was often shown dressed in an understated plain surcoat, such as in the Southern Tour scrolls or his portrait as a young man seated at a writing desk. These representations were in accordance with his reputation for unpretentiousness and preference for plain Manchu dress.  However, “despite the reluctance of the Manchus to wear  113 An example of the style of narrative depiction seen in The Hunt may be the large painting The Xuande Emperor and His Retinue, by Shang Xi (active c. second quarter of the fifteenth century), in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, described as a multiple portrait of Xuande (1426-1435), published in Fong and Watt, 344, figure 126. The emperor, on horseback, makes multiple appearances throughout the painting that shows many men and horses assembled in a wooded landscape outside the capital, with game animals visible amongst the trees and in the distance. 114 John Vollmer, “The Emperor’s New Clothes: Costume and Textiles at the Qing Court.” Oriental Art 47, no. 4 (2001): 20.  38 the style of robes worn by the Ming court, by the reign of the Kangxi Emperor richly ornamented dragon robes were generally accepted for less formal court occasions and official business.”115 During the Qing, the emperor, the heir apparent, and the first four ranks of princes typically wore dragon roundels at the centre chest and back and on each shoulder,116 signaling imperial presence.  The roundel was not unknown in the dress of Manchu elite, as seen in an illustration of Nurhaci attacking the Hada from the Manchu Veritable Records.117 The Manchu elite had access to court robes before ever coming to power in China, as “in order to control the tribesmen, the Ming bribed the Manchu with dragon robes, as well as titles and other favours,”118 While ostensibly Chinese, wearing a surcoat was also linked to Mongol Yuan dynasty practices as well as Jurchen traditions,119 underscoring the connections between the Manchu and their nomadic imperial brethren, and stressing the blood lineage between the emperor and the historic ancestor of the Qing dynasty. The li shui border incorporated into this depiction of the emperor’s outer robe was more usually a feature of the elaborate yellow court robe that he wore under the surcoat. This may indicate a variant style of surcoat, as during Kangxi’s time court wear was not yet  115 Valery M. Garrett, Chinese Dragon Robes (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 6. Even though Kangxi urged the Manchu to wear simple clothing, the increased use of silk by the elite boosted the industry, added wealth to the treasury, and stimulated the economy. Vollmer, “Emperor’s,” 22. The emperor is attended and protected by high-ranking members of his bodyguard, signaled by their short surcoats known as huang magua “yellow riding jacket,” which was a highly prestigious honor bestowed by the emperor on the highest-ranking ministers and officers of the imperial bodyguard as a privilege of rank.  John Vollmer, Ruling From the Dragon Throne (Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2002), 124. 116 Vollmer, “Emperor’s,” 19, and Ruling, 114-116. Circular motifs had heavenly associations and embodied notions of the superior, central, and heavenly. The surcoats of imperial women could carry eight dragon roundels and a lishui border. 117 Collection of the Toyo Bunko, Tokyo. See Elliott, 54, figure 2. 118 Garrett, 6. 119 Vollmer, Ruling, 116.  39 standardized to include a plain, dark-coloured and unbelted surcoat, with cuff-less elbow- length sleeves,120 or merely that the artist simplified this detail.  The designer’s choice to depict the central figure dressed in an obvious (if possibly not precisely correct) imperial surcoat has political overtones and underlines his identity as the Chinese ruler even as the setting portrays him as a Manchu chieftain, recalling Kubilai Khan Hunting, where the clearly foreign ruler and setting is juxtaposed with his imperial Chinese dress.  Further, this variation in the dress of the emperor suggests that the kesi was of provincial manufacture for a private client, rather than an imperial commission, where the accuracy of every element was critically important.121 The choice to commission Rice Planting and The Hunt in the medium of kesi sheds light on Manchu attitudes toward status and prestige, and its study adds another facet to the roles that visual art and art practice “played in maintaining political order and social stability in late-imperial China.”122 Qing emperors employed artistic productions to convey the values with which they wished to be identified.123 References to the imperial canon and literati concerns in Rice Planting reinforced the emperor’s respect for Confucian rule, and showed the Manchu as the new masters of Chinese politics and culture.  The Hunt celebrated and transmitted a distinctly non-Chinese version of nomadic lifestyle and the Manchu Way that defined and distinguished the Qing.  Who was the intended audience for these works, and  120 Court wear was standardized under Qianlong. The li shui border normally showed below the shorter surcoat. 121 Portraits were required to “present a recognizable likeness,” and the representation of the dress and regalia was equally important as a symbol of the emperor’s “exalted status.” Hearn, “Reunification and Revival,” 271. 122 John Vollmer, “Clothed to Rule the Universe: Ming and Qing Dynasty Textiles at The Art Institute of Chicago,” in Clothed to Rule the Universe: Ming and Qing Dynasty Textiles at The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago and Seattle: The Art Institute of Chicago in association with University of Washington Press, 2000), 14. 123 Hearn, “Reunification,” 271.  40 how did kesi function within the cultural milieu?  These questions form the basis for the following chapter.  41 Chapter III Rice Planting and The Hunt as Social Agents  In his work Art and Agency, Alfred Gell analyzes the concept of social agency which is “realized through the medium of objects,” with particular attention to how artifacts circulate and produce effects.124 Gell argues that objects are sustained by and connected to processes including gift exchange, politics, and lineage.  They motivate inferences, responses, and interpretations in viewers, and mediate the diverse variety of relations between those who produce and receive them.125 People engage in relationships with and through art, and experience the “primary power” of its “agent”—whether the patron, artist, or prototype (model)—and thus the agency of the artwork itself.126 For Gell, objects not only act on behalf of humans and supernatural beings to distribute their agency, but can be primary social agents as well. Gell’s ideas can help us understand how kesi functioned to legitimize the dynasty and communicate the agency of the throne.  As a patron, the emperor was the author of the things created in his name, even if many others did the labour.  As a prototype, he impressed his appearance on objects via the mediating agency of the artist.  Through his technical prowess, the artist inspired wonder, awe, and other powerful emotions in the viewer toward the emperor, and the glorification of the empire and the emperor was the end product of art sponsored by the court.  The agency of humans extends beyond temporal and spatial confines through cultural projects such as shrines, memorials, tombs, and portable art objects.127 For  124 Robin Osborne and Jeremy Tanner, eds. Art’s Agency and Art History (Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007), 2. 125 Gell, 3. 126 Gell, 20, 24. 127 Gell, 223, also sentence following; original emphasis.  42 example, with regard to Melanesian society Gell tells us "the purpose of Malangan [art]…is the transmission of ancestral social efficacy (social prestige, ritual privileges, land-rights, etc.) through the display of memorial sculptures which are incorporated into successors as memories (internalized visual images)."  The material object carries with it the fame and agency of the producing person or culture as it circulates, creating an immaterial “field of influence.”128 In this way, art objects and projects associated with the emperor extended his bodily presence, distributed his authority across the land, and allowed the abduction of his power over the empire and his subjects.129 The objects and goods sent from tribute nations as well as the contemporary art amassed in the imperial collections confirmed the emperor’s dominance.  Old things acquire a patina of age and authority, where a kind of wisdom adheres to and become inherent in their physical substance,130 thus the possession of ancient objects was a way for the emperor to associate himself with the wise rulers of past times.131 By using the venerable technique of kesi to make new works, the patina of the Song was recalled, and the agency of antique works was suggested, borrowed, and dispensed. The Warp and Weft of Power The formats, settings, and situations where a viewer engaged with kesi affected its efficacy as a social mediator.  According to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Rice Planting and The Hunt were originally part of a larger set of six works.132 While the whereabouts of the other kesi are unknown, based on other important works of the period—  128 Gell, 229. 129 Gell, 114, 230. 130 Gell, 231. 131 Clunas, Art in China, 58. 132 Didactic panel in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Canada, September 2008.  43 such as the Southern Inspection Tour handscrolls, prints made into illustrated books, tribute paintings, and images of Emperor Yongzheng (r. 1723-1735) offering sacrifices at Altar of Agriculture—additional subjects might well have included scenes of ritual sacrifice or foreign envoys delivering tribute, a cityscape, and other seasonal images.  Such subject matter was historically established and imperially mandated.  Speculating further, the themes of the works in the set may have been interrelated, as in the pair under discussion.  As a group, the addition of these types of topics would have amplified the message of a peaceful, prosperous empire under the benevolent rule of the Qing that is central to Rice Planting and The Hunt. Following the Tang dynasty, the popularity of permanent wall paintings gave way to formats that were meant for smaller audiences, such as hanging scrolls.  These were not intended for continual display, but rather were only occasionally brought out for seasonal viewing or to enhance particular celebrations.133 Kesi hanging scrolls were in line with Confucian principles of humility, as from a distance the appearance was of a painting rather than an expensive tapestry.  In the Song dynasty, many kesi were produced as album leaves. The small scale allowed the viewer to thoroughly appreciate the physical qualities and fine details, and to have an intimate experience of communion with the artist.  At this time social gatherings of elite men provided new contexts for art, as select audiences in private settings engaged in viewing artwork and spontaneously composing poetry or creating paintings.134  133 Clunas, Art in China, 48. The scrolls were changed according to the season and occasion; consequently patrons needed a variety of images (179). 134 Clunas, Art in China, 143.  In order to view hanging scrolls at such gatherings, servants held the artworks, further altering the relationship between the viewer and the work of art. These gatherings were not solely the preserve of private individuals; on various occasions Emperor Huizong held small gatherings, banquets and parties and invited groups of his favoured officials to see selections from his collection; participants also engaged in  44 This had an effect on the relationships between the artist, viewer, and patron, as sharing ways of thinking about art collecting, connoisseurship and criticism became central to the social and political lives of the scholar-official painters. Imperial art was displayed to audiences that ranged from officials in the inner court to the general population.  The Mongol rulers of the Yuan dynasty imported weavers from western Asia to make Buddhist images for temples, portraits, and “auspicious omen” pictures in kesi that proclaimed support for traditional imperial values in order to legitimize their reign and maintain the support of the Chinese ruling class.135 Liao and Jin artistic projects addressed their specific requirements as foreign rulers, accentuating subject matter that was specific to the north and their ethnic identity such as seasonal hunting rituals, which then entered the repertoire of Chinese court workshops.136 Large works “with more public messages might be displayed in audience halls, where the ministers and high officials came together with the emperor and his staff of eunuchs.”137 Similarly, during the Ming and Qing dynasties, tang hua 堂畫, large “reception hall” scrolls, were hung in the main room of a mansion where guests were received.138 Through their encounters with artwork, guests inferred the host’s social position in terms of his wealth, sophistication, and understanding of appropriate behavior.  calligraphy, painting, and poetry composition. See Patricia Buckley Ebrey, Accumulating Culture (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008), 122-128. 135 Clunas, Art in China, 65. For a discussion of portraits in kesi see Michael Henss, “The Woven Image: Tibeto-Chinese Textile Thangkas of the Yuan and Early Ming Dynasties,” Orientations 28, no. 10 (Nov. 1997): 26-39. 136 Clunas, Art in China, 63. 137 Cahill, “Academy,” 174. 138 Clunas, Art in China, 179.  45 From the time of the Song dynasty, artists worked within a “nexus of imperial patronage and imperial gift-giving,”139 Paintings with subjects of political import were suitable for presentation to an “especially meritorious minister, to praise his loyalty and other virtues,” or given to commemorate promotion or retirement.140 Kesi and paintings for birthdays included imagery relating to long life, such as pictures of Dongfang Suo Stealing the Peaches of Longevity, whereas images of paired birds and “hundred boys” were suitable for weddings.141 Kesi acted as a medium for exchange in social relationships in all of these settings and formats. Because the emperor himself was depicted in The Hunt, the set of kesi was almost certainly created specifically for him in the manner of “portrait in a landscape” scrolls that were commissioned by groups of associates for the particular person who appeared in the artwork.142 The supportive political content and positive imagery of Rice Planting and The Hunt (and the likely other works in the set) suggest that they were especially made to commemorate one of Kangxi’s visits to the south, possibly the third in 1699.143 Perhaps the set appropriately adorned the audience hall of Cao Yin, the Textile Commissioner at whose house Kangxi resided during his official visits to Nanjing beginning with the third Inspection  139 Clunas, Art in China, 60. 140 Cahill, “Academy,” 174. 141 See versions of Dongfang Suo Stealing the Peaches of Longevity published in Jean Mailey, Chinese Silk Tapestry: K’o-ssu, from private and museum collections (New York: China Institute in America, 1971), 29 figure 10, and 緙絲特展圖華 Kesi tezhan tulu, 54-55 plate 22; for an example of a “hundred boys” kesi see Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (17.607, misidentified as “Daoist figures”). 142 Clunas, Art in China, 154-155. 143 This would have required long advance notice, but one assumes that the Southern Tours were also planned long in advance.  Kangxi made six tours of the southern regions: 1684, 1689, 1699, 1703, 1705, and 1707. Hearn, Kangxi Tour, 14.  46 Tour.144 Textile Commissioners were posted in Nanjing, Suzhou, and Hangzhou.  Their duties involved managing the textile factories of those cities, purchasing raw materials, and sending quotas of silk for imperial and official use to the capital, Beijng.145 The Cao family were hereditary bondservants to Kangxi; however, this did not prevent them from rising to prominence and achieving power, wealth, and influence through their appointments to important positions within the Manchu administration.  Moreover, the family had an intimate connection with Kangxi, as Cao Yin’s mother had been a nurse to the future emperor.  Cao Yin received a strict classical Chinese education and was part of a literary circle of scholars, while at the same time he was trained in and enjoyed the traditional Manchu pursuits of the hunt and archery.146 As a Chinese bannerman, Cao Yin would have been anxious not only to honour and please the emperor, but also to point out his personal relationship to the throne to his colleagues and visitors.  His education, dual cultural background, and association with local literati elite ideally positioned him to be the patron for Rice Planting and The Hunt. “Presentation paintings” embodied, articulated, and activated the reciprocal relationship between the emperor and his officials through their images and inscriptions.147 Seeing, let alone meeting, the emperor in person was considered to be of infinitely good  144Jonathan Spence, Ts’ao Yin and the K’ang-hsi Emperor, Bondservant and Master (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1966), 138-139. Kangxi also stayed with the Textile Commissioner in Suzhou on the second tour; his house is depicted at the end of the Southern Inspection Tour handscroll. Hearn, Kangxi Tour, 122. 145 Spence, Ts’ao Yin, 25, 82. The Commissioners were members of the imperial elite in the same category as key figures in provincial administrations, and were specially appointed by the emperor (83). 146 Spence, Ts’ao Yin, 25.  Cao Yin’s father was the Textile Commissioner in Nanjing from 1663 until his death in 1684; Cao Yin served in the position from 1692 to 1712. 147 Bickford, “Aesthetic of Agency,” 89.  47 fortune.148 A way to perpetuate such a fortunate event was to commission an artwork that included the image of the emperor, possibly from the Imperial Silkworks itself, which was able to take orders from private individuals once the annual quota of fabrics for the court had been produced.149 Therefore, a plausible provenance for Rice Planting and The Hunt is that Cao Yin, another wealthy Chinese bannerman, or a group of Suzhou or Nanjing merchants commissioned the set of kesi, thereby promoting their city’s silk products and currying the emperor’s favour by celebrating his rule and the peace he brought to the empire. Chinese silk was also highly coveted by foreigners, and consequently was an instrument of diplomacy.  China’s rulers used silk, including court garments and bolts of silk cloth, as gifts (or bribes) to nomadic leaders in the north and west from early times.150 The Qing court had works of pictorial kesi produced as special diplomatic gifts as well as for the imperial art collection.151 In the eyes of the Chinese, outsiders sought Chinese goods and adopted China’s institutions because they recognized the superiority of the empire.152 As a diplomatic tool, kesi was the ideal promotional product, as it evidenced the excellent quality of Chinese silk, the superlative skill of her weavers, and the high culture of the court. A spectacular scene of Daoist immortals at the Turquoise Pond of Mount Kunlun is the ostensive subject of a large kesi, which bears the inscription huafeng sanzhu 華封三祝, a traditional congratulatory message for happiness and longevity, in a wide red band across the top of the work (fig. 21).  Daoist imagery was a subject for auspicious court art including kesi from at least the Song dynasty, and often conveyed the idea of a long and harmonious life.  148 Hearn, Kangxi Tour, 32. 149 Garrett, 49. 150 John E. Vollmer, Silks for Thrones and Altars: Chinese Costumes and Textiles (Paris: Myrna Meyers, c. 2003), 83. Anticipating diplomatic needs, quantities of textiles were amassed in imperial storerooms. 151 National Palace Museum, 1981, in Vollmer, Thrones, 30. 152 Ebrey, Accumulating Culture, 16.  48 Yet, when considered in the light of the historical period of the work, an alternate reading of the inscription as “three blessings at conferring territory upon China” suggests a reference to Kangxi’s success in settling Russian incursions into Chinese territory, ratified in the Treaty of Nerchinsk (1690).  In recognition of this agreement which favoured China, Kangxi sent gifts including kesi hangings to Peter the Great, although the provenance of this particular work is unknown.153 In comparison to Rice Planting and The Hunt, Daoist Immortals at the Turquoise Pond has a more saturated colour palette, especially notable in the extensive use of deep blue, with more complex figure groupings and convincing use of space.  Nevertheless, there are also points of similarity in the zigzag composition, boldly coloured areas of stylized landscape, strong outlines, beautifully detailed but simple faces, and the use of vertically piled registers in a flattened picture plane to indicate receding space.  This visual relationship between the works, with political commentary present in all three, offers the intriguing possibility that they may represent a regional style or the difference between an imperial and a private commission from the same workshop. Expanding Agency and Attracting Auspiciousness Returning now to Huizong’s inscription for a kesi, in the second line the emperor notes the technical challenges of weaving kesi and calls attention to its labourious nature: 曾 聞人說刻絲難 “I have heard people say kesi is very difficult.” While labour would seem to identify kesi as the product of a lowly worker, the mention of difficulty here denotes “more difficult than painting,” and thus is a mark of superior artistic agency and artistic achievement.  Reinforcing this message, the emperor ends the inscription with an admonition that kesi should not be confused with ordinary needlework, 莫作尋常業綉看 “do not regard  153 Vollmer, Thrones, 116.  In his comments on this work, Vollmer translates the inscription as “three blessings at the frontier.”  49 it as some common embroidery,” once again distinguishing it as a special rendition of imperial academy conventions, not simply a copy of a painting.  Embroidery and complex weave structures were widely and typically used as the means of creating pattern on fabric from ancient times, but while appreciated for their beauty and decorative qualities were certainly not viewed as art.154 Even when the conventions of painting were followed, the identity of tapestry remained present in well-realized kesi such as Rice Planting and The Hunt, and unlike the painting practices of the scholar-officials, the highly technical demands for weaving a kesi put it well outside the abilities of amateurs.155 According to Gell, when the viewer is unable to comprehend how a work was created because of its technical complexity or unworldly beauty, the art object itself and its “making” become the focus of attention rather than the artist; its origin may even be attributed to divine forces.156 The difficulty of kesi technique, the astounding virtuosity of its weavers, and the effect of its activated surface no doubt created the effect of captivation on a viewer that Gell calls the “technology of enchantment,” as well as the misapprehension of reading a kesi as a painting.  The twelfth-century art critic Deng Chun similarly observed that the paramount criteria of craft—technique, care, detail, and delineation of form—required “skill that seizes the power of Creation itself.”157 The feelings of respect, even awe, which arise for the person who had the power to command such skill are a logical extension of the viewer’s  154 Chinese weaving technology was highly developed even in ancient times, but extant examples of Chinese-made kesi are nearly completely absent in the visual record until the Northern Song dynasty. The complex woven patterns that were favored for luxury textiles were produced on large, stationary drawlooms that were unsuitable for weaving such a simple structure as tapestry. For a discussion of the development of patterning in Chinese weaving see Dieter Kuhn, “Silk Weaving in Ancient China: From Geometric Figures to Patterns of Pictorial Likeness,” Chinese Science 12 (1995). 155 Clunas, Art in China, 186. 156 Gell, 68-72. 157 Bickford, “Aesthetic of Agency,” 87. What is translated here as “craft” should be understood to include all artisan-made objects, including court paintings.  50 captivation;158 ultimately, the agency of the artwork belonged to emperor, who wielded near- divine authority and power.  In her essay entitled “Emperor Huizong and the Aesthetic of Agency” Maggie Bickford examines how auspicious pictures drew good fortune inward to the centre of the empire, embodied by the emperor, and distributed his agency outward, mediating the relationship between the empire and the cosmos.  While she does not specifically cite Gell, Bickford’s study shows the relational role of auspicious objects.  In Huizong’s time and beyond, the production and manipulation of such images was directed toward “enforcing the ruler’s right to rule” through the abduction of his power by viewers, and reinforcing the blessings carried by an auspicious event or omen.159 Auspicious art is a major aspect of Chinese visual culture that has been neglected as a minor, “decorative,” genre, one that is now coming under new scrutiny.  Bickford comments on this fresh perspective that reconsiders the importance of such images: Historians of painting have been extending the range of art-historical investigation beyond the literati canon of subject matter into areas of court and professional painting in which auspicious imagery plays an important and overt role.  And they have gone beyond simple symbolic equations to try to understand the social and political uses of such images.160  Auspiciousness is an idea not readily applied to North American and European art and likely to be equated with good luck symbolism, but this concept has crucial applications to Asian  158 Gell, 39, and Osborne and Tanner, 12. 159 Bickford, “Aesthetic of Agency,” 92. 160 Bickford, “Three Rams,” 128. For an in-depth investigation of Huizong’s collections including the politics of court sponsored art see Ebrey, Accumulating Culture. For an additional perspective on the political and cultural function of auspicious works, see Peter C. Sturman, “Cranes Above Kaifeng: The Auspicious Image in the Court of Huizong,” Ars Orientalis 20 (1990): 33-68.  51 art.  The nature of auspiciousness is twofold: it resides in the actual thing or event itself as well as in its representation.  Accordingly, the auspicious image or object carries visual authority and brings auspiciousness to its setting.161 This is especially true for kesi, which has deeply rooted content within its material stuff, silk; and its method, which is highly focused, repetitive, and labour-intensive.  Sustained concentrated and repetitive activities are considered to have increased efficacy, such as in repeated mantras and rituals. In traditional China, auspicious images had affinities with popular visual culture, such as New Year’s pictures (nianhua 年畫) and the gengzhi tu.  Such images are “multi-vocal,” in that in addition to embodying multiple wishes for good outcomes, they are aesthetically pleasing, document various phenomenon, and “visually proclaim virtue.”162 Images worked to “generate, attract, confirm, sustain, or prolong” positive outcomes, including male progeny, longevity, abundance and wealth, examination honors, bureaucratic advancement, imperial authority, and peace.163 Most, if not all, court-produced art including kesi contains auspicious content to some degree, as the business of the state included not only promoting and perpetuating its own legitimacy but also recognizing virtue in others.  Even the paintings of the literati often contained propitious and congratulatory meanings, for instance the popular theme of “three friends of winter”: pine, bamboo and plum, notable for their hardiness and longevity and appropriate as a gift on a birthday or the New Year.164 As a medium for auspicious imagery, kesi technique offered an advantage due to the literal separation of colours in the woven structure that allowed for “emphatic clarification of shape  161 Bickford, “Aesthetic of Agency,” 93. 162 Bickford, “Aesthetic of Agency,” 84. 163 Bickford, “Aesthetic of Agency,” 72-73. 164 Clunas, Art in China, 145. The theme was also associated with the scholar’s strong morality and his ability to withstand adversity.  52 and pattern,” a characteristic of Song auspicious omen pictures.165 This quality of depiction and its agency carried over into kesi even when the subject was not of a primarily auspicious nature. Kangxi was suspicious of sycophancy on the part of officials and apparently had little use for the reports of auspicious omens that played such an important role in Huizong’s reign,166 but the notion of auspiciousness was deeply embedded in Chinese art.  Whereas auspicious omen pictures documented the occurrence of auspicious phenomena, presentation pictures were more diffuse in their articulation and effect, primary functioning to proffer good wishes.167 From early times emperors collected, recorded, and “broadcast” auspicious signs (xiang rui 祥瑞), which were indications of Heaven’s affirmation of their reigns.  In response to these portents, art was created both to document auspicious signs and to disperse their potency through being viewed by officials and members of the court.168 Rice Planting and The Hunt relate to the auspicious imagery that was mandated during Huizong’s reign through their high craftsmanship, precise rendering and brilliant colour,169 and the dazzling technical prowess of their makers.  Both tapestries include five- coloured clouds (fig. 22), an ancient motif that appeared in all media to indicate good fortune and high rank.  The role of clouds in bringing nourishing rains for crops made them propitious and portended good omens.170 In contrast to the monochromatic, unobtrusive  165 Bickford, “Aesthetic of Agency,” 83. 166 Jonathan Spence, Emperor of China: Self-portrait of K’ang-hsi (New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1974), 52. 167 Bickford, “Aesthetic of Agency,” 4. 168 Bickford, “Aesthetic of Agency,” 78-79. 169 Bickford, “Aesthetic of Agency,” 76. 170 Terese Tse Bartholomew, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art (San Francisco: Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 2006), 55, 105, 237, 238, 257.  53 rendering of clouds in Daoist Immortals, the wide bands of colourful clouds in the pair of kesi are strong and striking, and are a unifying element of the two works. The theme of Rice Planting is rice or grain, he 禾.  A related word is lei 耒, a wooden plough handle, which when combined with the field lines of jian 井 yields geng 耕, ploughing, and transforms the ploughing of the gengzhi tu 耕織圖 into the planting of rice. Rice exemplifies auspiciousness, due to its fundamental role as life-giving food and attendant association with prosperity.  Kangxi was presented with various auspicious objects on his second Southern Tour, including a double-headed stalk of grain that was interpreted as a reflection of his good government and his love for the people.  Nurturing the population went hand in hand with supporting agricultural improvements, such as the development of strains of high yielding rice;171 a well-fed population was a reflection of peace in the empire, reinforced by he 禾 as a homophone for he 和, “harmonious” or “peaceful.” An elephant, xiang 象 (a homophone for xiang 祥, auspicious), appears in The Hunt. Native to southeastern China, by the time of the Qing elephants had long disappeared from all but the regions of the far south.  They were received by the Chinese emperor as rare tribute gifts from southern people and employed in state ceremonies from ancient times,172 and were manifestations of strength and wisdom.173 Six elephants led the huge Grand Carriage processions of the Northern Song, where size and scale were used to convey the idea of majesty through overwhelming spectacle.174 Many images of dragons were carried in  171 Hearn, Kangxi Tour, 28. 172 Edward H. Schafer, “War Elephants in Ancient and Medieval China,” Oriens 10, no. 2 (Dec. 31, 1957): 290. 173 Smith, 193. 174 Patricia Buckley Ebrey, “Taking Out the Grand Carriage: Imperial Spectacle and the Visual Culture of Northern Song Kaifeng,” Asia Major 12, part 1 (1999): 34. The Grand  54 the procession, but in their physical absence elephants were equally as effective in conveying imperial majesty, having “on their side both their size and their foreignness; coming from distant regions, they demonstrated the universality of the rule of the ‘Son of Heaven’ who receives tribute from exotic southeast Asian lands.”175 Much later, in Kangxi’s time seven elephants pulled his “jade coach” in the procession to the Three Great Sacrifices.176 The white elephant seen in The Hunt is a particularly auspicious animal throughout South and East Asia, due to its association with royalty and the purity of the Buddhist religion,177 and not only reinforces Kangxi’s control of the empire but also once again signifies the peace he achieved and maintained.  Beyond their identifiable auspicious elements, the aesthetic beauty of these kesi is also of great consequence.  While Gell’s model deliberately excludes the consideration of aesthetics, Bickford asserts that beauty and efficacy are inseparable in auspicious images.178 Historian Ronald Egan contends that many of the poems written by Emperor Huizong do not speak directly to “imperial sagacity or benevolence,” but are intended as evidence of his virtue as ruler.  He explains: Beauty is virtue in the mentality of these verses.  Every additional manifestation of beauty in the palace grounds, in Huizong’s poetry and painting, in the imperial calligraphy collection, or in other precious objects is further evidence of the emperor’s profound learning and impeccable inclinations.  Aesthetic beauty is not  Carriage procession was made up of 20,000 guardsmen, musicians, astronomers, eunuchs, and officials, many animals, and of course, the emperor. 175 Ebrey, “Grand Carriage,” 55. 176 Spence, Emperor, 31. 177 Carl W. Bishop, “The Elephant and Its Ivory in Ancient China,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 41 (1921): 301. Elephants were also used in warfare; Bishop notes that the army of the last Ming emperor included 600 elephants, to no avail against the Manchu (306). The white elephant may also refer to the practice of Tibetan Buddhism that was important during the Qing dynasty. 178 Bickford, “Aesthetic of Agency,” 91.  55 shallow ornament in this environment.  It is, rather, testament to the ruler’s superior cultivation.179  “Endlessly Tangled and Involved” The four-character idiom silaixianqu 絲來線去, literally “silk threads come and go,” calls to mind a snarl of looping threads and succinctly conveys the “endlessly tangled and involved” connections that resulted from the central role silk and weaving played in the social, political and cultural matrix of Asia in general and China in particular.  The production and trade of silk had enormous cultural and economic importance within the Chinese empire and far beyond her borders.  Silk signified status and wealth, was subject matter in literature and visual art, functioned as a high-prestige support for other art media, and performed as an art form in itself as kesi. The production of luxury silk textiles enriched the treasury and stimulated economic activity in various sectors, and reflected a remarkable continuity in imperial practice.  Such practices were not among Manchu cultural traditions, but the office of the emperor was central to the silk industry and the Qing emperors became patrons, clients and distributors of luxury textiles.180 The number of imperial silkworks, zhizaoju 織造局, was increased to three: Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Nanjing, the traditional centers of the silk industry.  The zhizaoju were strictly regulated with regard to the production of “the silk clothes and special textiles used as gifts from the emperor to officials, tributaries, and emissaries.”181 By embracing “the notion that Chinese court apparel defined and sustained the elite who were  179 Ronald Egan, “Huizong’s Palace Poems,” in Ebrey and Bickford, 386. Original emphasis. 180 Vollmer, “Emperor’s,” 16-17. 181 Vollmer, “Emperor’s,” 15-16. “These complex operations often utilized the services of contracted weavers and specialized textile workers whose production in excess of official quotas was sold privately.”  56 responsible for good government on earth and harmony in Heaven,”182 the emperor aligned himself with the literati elite.  Further, his sponsorship of the silk industry directly benefited workers—from the farmers’ wives who raised the silkworms on up the chain of production— and contributed to the emperor’s performance as a Confucian monarch. In China, silk was a prerogative of the ruling class and was used to pay salaries and taxes from the third century Han dynasty.  Rituals to supplicate the deities responsible for sericulture continued to be performed into the twentieth century, and the use of silk aligned with certain Confucian values: Silk, like jade, …exerted a profound influence on the ritual, political and social conduct that came to characterize Chinese aristocratic society.  These luxury materials defined notions of refinement and were perceived as embodiments of the virtues established as the ideals of Chinese society.183  Ritual textiles and ceremonial robes were necessary to maintaining the proper hierarchical order of the society by acting as a means of identifying the elite, and as a visual reminder of their praiseworthy virtue.  Proper clothing and luxury textiles made for the imperial household contributed to harmony in the social, political and religious orders, and were proof of the civilizing authority of the state.184 Further, fine textiles reflected the aesthetic taste of their users and enhanced their status.  Consequently, when the canon of the imperial academy began to be interpreted in kesi in the Song dynasty, the agency of imperial silk textiles was inevitably extended to the art form. The earliest extant examples of tapestry found in China date from the Tang dynasty, although whether these fragments are of Chinese manufacture is uncertain.  Kesi technique  182 Vollmer, “Emperor’s,” 17. 183 Vollmer, Thrones, 7. 184 Vollmer, “Emperor’s,” 15, 18.  57 traveled to China sometime between the early tenth to early eleventh century from West- central Asia by way of the Uighurs, a Turkic nomadic group.185 The Uighurs had a strong influence on the kesi made by and for the Liao people, the northern dynasty contemporary with the Song.  China’s production of silk textiles was seldom, if ever, surpassed in terms of complex weave structures and highly developed loom technology, but based on the archeological record, tapestry was not a popular technique in China prior to the tenth century, in spite of its advantages of being a relatively simple process coupled with a capacity for flexibility in design.  The kesi of the Uighurs, and of Central Asia in general, was characterized by patterns of birds and animals amongst leaves and flowers in bold, all-over or banded designs that were naturalistic, colorful and lively.186 Early kesi in China was used as a patterning method for elite and ritual clothing, wrappings for hand scrolls, fine mountings for paintings, sutra covers and luxury furnishing fabrics.  Kesi was used as a noble fabric through to the Qing dynasty even as the medium was also employed to create art objects akin to paintings. Textiles were an extremely important aspect of the nomadic cultures of Central and Northern Asia.  Woven textiles and felt fabrics were highly portable and were used not only as clothing but also to construct and decorate dwellings, as interior furnishings, and for animal trappings.  While wool was the predominant material, sericulture was practiced on a  185 Cammann, “Notes on the Origin,” Artibus Asiae, 91, 95-97, 106-109. Cammann argues that the word kesi was originally a sound loan from a Persian word, qazz, or Arabic khazz, both with a sound something like “khuzz” and a meaning that refers to silk and silk products. The term kesi first occurred in Chinese literature during the Northern Song dynasty, with the earliest descriptions of the technique written by the Southern Song writers Zhuang Zhou (1090-1150) and Hong Hao (1088-1155). Cammann, 90-91. There were many variations in the way kesi was rendered in characters, leading to confusion over whether all refer to the same technique, and lending credence to Cammann’s assertion that kesi is a sound-loan word. 186 Cammann, “Notes on the Origin,” Orientations, 74.  58 small scale, with the use of silk restricted to elite members of society.187 Besides domestic production of silk textiles, the Khitan Liao as well as other northern nomadic peoples obtained luxury silks and silk costumes when and however possible: by capturing skilled weavers for domestic production, through friendly diplomatic exchanges, as booty when cities were conquered, and as payments of silk from central China.188 Gifts sent by the Liao emperor to the Song emperor on the latter’s birthday included kesi robes in patterns that were designated as decorations for Liao “national style” hunting dress, suggesting that kesi was considered a cultural specialty.189 As in China, kesi was a precious item, and examples of locally produced kesi pieces have been found in almost all important Liao tombs, indicating that could it only be used by relatives of the imperial family or very high officials, but even then was rare.190 As a cultural product associated with the Liao, who had likely learned the technique from the Uighers,191 the Manchus re-appropriated kesi from the Chinese as a northern art form.  Even as the manner of expressing traditions changed over time, silk clothing, furnishing fabrics—and kesi—served the political and social goals of those in power. Kesi in Painting’s Field of Influence Increased linkages between different mediums in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries encouraged “parallel imagery in textiles, painting, and woodblock prints,” and can  187 Janet Harvey, Traditional Textiles of Central Asia (London: Thames and Hudson, 1996; first paperback edition, 1997), 57. See also the catalogue from the Textile Museum of Canada, Wandering Weavers: Nomadic Traditions of Asia (Toronto: Textile Museum of Canada, 2006). 188 Zhao Feng, Liao, 13-14. Han Chinese weavers were the most important, but Uighur, Bohai, and other nationalities were represented as well. 189 Watt and Wardell, 60. 190 Zhao Feng, Liao, 93. 191 Other Central Asian peoples also wove wool in tapestry technique for rugs, horse blankets, and hangings as well. Harvey, 69.  59 been seen as a reflection of the “diverse and flourishing private enterprise of various cities” that was encouraged by Manchu patronage.192 Such artistic borrowing was far from new or unique to this period; from early times similar patterns appeared on various media.  As art historian Regina Krahl points out, “Sometimes the transfer of a particular pattern from its original medium to another is managed only with difficulty, while at other times this transfer is the inspiration for entirely new developments.”193 This describes well the development of kesi, which in relation to painting has distinct but related cultural, social, and political agency, and a completely different and innovative way of manifesting an image. During Huizong’s reign the great bulk of art was produced at the behest of the court in state workshops, and there was a good deal of image sharing between various media in the greater arena of visual culture.  The paintings of the emperor himself may have been inspired by “the emblematic clarity developed in craftwork—the painted, embroidered, and woven auspicious devices that marked imperial processional banners, religious vestments, and pictorial textiles, which formed a ubiquitous culture of auspicious vitality at Huizong’s court and beyond it.”194 Likely influenced by the prevalence and authority of academic painting in court culture, once the highly skilled Song weavers began to use tapestry method to create non-repeating images they experimented with borrowing and modifying images and compositions from painting.  Interpreting the flower-and-bird genre (huaniao hua 花鳥畫) of academic art for album leaves and hanging scrolls would have been an easy expansion of kesi from its tradition of representing motifs from nature.  These creations followed the imperial  192 Claudia Brown, “The Weaving of Pictures: Tapestry, Painting, and Woodblock Prints in Late Ming and Early Qing Dynasty China,” Oriental Art 47, no. 4 (2001): 8. 193 Regina Krahl, “Designs on Early Chinese Textiles,” Orientations 20, no. 8 (August 1989): 62. 194 Maggie Bickford, “Huizong’s Paintings: Art and the Art of Emperorship,” in Ebrey and Bickford, 480.  60 canon and functioned as paintings, in that they were “read,” mounted, and displayed in the same fashion.  While the extant examples of kesi suggest that flower-and-bird works were foremost in the subject matter portrayed during the Song, all the other major genres including landscapes and religious subjects were also represented. The transformation of kesi in the Song dynasty during the twelfth century can be viewed as an example of cultural transmission, in which an artistic medium is gradually modified to suit the taste and sensibilities of the country of adoption.195 As a foreign technique, those commissioning kesi had to be convinced of its desirability as a means of artistic expression before considering its acceptance and production.196 The style of an object maps and manipulates social relations, as stylistic conventions must be understood if the art object is to have agency.197 Artists supply audiences who are “well-educated” in the process of assessing works as defined by tradition, beauty, and other standards,198 thus kesi technique had to be somehow translated to become “Chinese.”  This was accomplished through taking on elements from the imperial academic canon, as discussed in the previous chapter. During the Song dynasty the literati were only beginning their rise to prominence, and court art of all kinds was still prominent as visual cultural expression; we have seen how kesi was held in high regard at this time.  In the early imperial art catalogues through the Yuan dynasty kesi continued to hold a place of respect.  Commentary in the preface to the chapter on painting and sculpture in the Jingshi dadian 經世大典, Record of [Yuan] Institutions (1329), suggests that the skill of making images in silk weaving was considered superior to  195 Watt and Wardell, 58-59. 196 Cammann, “Notes on the Origin,” Artibus Asiae, 108. 197 Robert Layton, “Art and Agency: A Reassessment,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 9 (2003): 458, 460. 198 Shirley Campbell, “The Captivating Agency of Art: Many Ways of Seeing,” in Beyond Aesthetics: Art and the Technologies of Enchantment, ed. Christopher Pinney and Nicholas Thomas (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2001), 122.  61 those required for drawing, embroidery, and sculpture.199 Su Tianjue, the compiler of the earlier Yuan wenlei 元文類, or Yuan Cultural Categories, had this to say: “To weave an image so that it seems to come alive is not something that can be equaled by the application of colors [in painting].  To make an image of clay is even more inferior.  Thus human skill can match the wonder of nature.”200 By the fifteenth century, ownership of art was an important part of claiming elite cultural status,201 and the virtuosity and refinement that distinguished kesi as well as its association with the Song dynasty made it an object of connoisseurship and conspicuous consumption in the late Ming dynasty. Court as well as the art world politics of the literati contributed to negative attitudes that were expressed about tapestry in the late imperial period.  Tapestry that was made as an art form (distinct from its uses as a functional fabric) was categorized as a sub-group of hua 畫, painting, in Qianlong’s imperial art catalogues, in which entries were arranged hierarchically in importance of works, yet preceded carvings and other objects of aesthetic value that were collected by the emperor.202 As works requiring greater physical labour in their creation, artisan-made objects were ranked lower, echoing the four-fold hierarchy of the commoner classes: scholar-officials, land-owner/farmers, workers/artisans, and merchants. Thus, kesi occupied a somewhat ambiguous position between the art of the professional  199 Watt and Wardell, 60. The authors report that the original text of the Jingshi dadian is lost, but the chapter on Yuan painting and sculpture was copied from the 1408 Yongle dadian 永樂大典 [Eternal collection of classics], and published by Wang Guowei (1877-1927) as Yuandai huasu ji 元代畫塑 記 [Painting and sculpture of the Yuan period]. See 62n19. 200 Yuan wenlei, vol. 6, 618, in Watt and Wardell, Silk was Gold, 60. 201 Clunas, Art in China, 176. 202 Pictorial embroidery was categorized like kesi.  62 “artisan” court painters and the work of other “artisans,” which in English is usually translated as “craft.”203 Commentators writing in the Qing imperial art catalogue viewed kesi with a degree of disparagement, and in contrast to earlier writers, noted that it lacked refinement compared to painting.  This is evident in this commentary on the Painting and Calligraphy section in Qianlong’s Shiqu baoji 石渠寶笈: “Though kesi and embroidery are refined, they are a less graceful category of art” [i.e. vulgar, a critical reference to its extreme cost], therefore they are put into this category [painting and calligraphy] after the entries of anonymous works”;204 essentially demoting kesi yet continuing to recognize it as related to painting.  However, it is important to note here that Clunas posits that the usage of hua, at least during the Ming dynasty, was closer in meaning to “picturing” rather than strictly referring to paintings.205  203 There is not linguistic equivalence between English and Chinese terms for artisans’ work. The categorization of aesthetic works made by skilled artisans was broader in China than the way craft has come to be defined in the West, as it was generally applied to three- dimensional representational objects, including sculpture and carved relief, as well as functional objects made of metal, clay, wood, glass or fibre, and also the work of professional painters paid by the court. The twelfth-century critic Deng Chun used gong 工 to refer to both artisans and artisans’ work. Bickford, “Aesthetic of Agency,” 87. Gong was originally a pictograph of a carpenter’s square and is usually translated today as “work, worker.” It appears in numerous compound words relating to work. Gongjiang 工匠 is a word in current usage translated as “artisan, craftsman,” where jiang adds the meaning of artisan but was formerly a pictograph of an ax hollowing out a piece of wood. Rick Harbaugh, Chinese Characters: A Geneology and Dictionary (Zhongwen.com, 1998): 154, 157, 270. 204 Zhang Zhao et al, eds., 石渠寶笈 Shiqu baoji [Catalogue of the Qing imperial collection], 凡例 fanli [Notes to the use of the book (Preface)], 1744, in 文淵閣四庫全書 Wenyuan ge siku quanshu [Wenyuan Pavilion copy of complete collection of the four treasuries], (Hong Kong: Digital Heritage Publishing Limited, 2004). Online database: http://137.82.42.158/scripts/skinet.dll?OnTrigger?code=31822<http://137.82.42158/scripts/s kinet.dll?OnTrigger?code=14974> (accessed March 7, 2007). I am grateful to Susan Chang for her translation of this comment in the Shiqu baoji. In the Confucian tradition, extravagance and love of luxury “carried overtones of self-indulgence and moral weakness,” leading to criticism of Qianlong’s ostentatious collecting. Ebrey, Accumulating Culture, 6. 205 Clunas, Superfluous Things: Material Culture and Social Status in Early Modern China, Paperback edition, (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004), 75.  63 Kesi scrolls were often catalogued by Ming private collectors on the same basis as paintings on silk, which suggests a certain fluidity, if not instability, of categories.206 From the Northern Song, seals, signatures, and dates added esteem to artists’ works.207 A small number of Song dynasty kesi by Shen Zifan, Zhu Kerou, and Wu Qi include woven-in seals and signatures; however, most court art including kesi were not signed and thus would have been listed in the “anonymous” category in any case.  This, plus the admittance of kesi to the hua category by the Qing cataloguer compilers, lends weight to Clunas’ call for a broader definition of hua. The imperial Chinese art catalogue listings confirm that kesi, for all intents and purposes, were understood to fulfill the visual functions of painting.  Both kesi and paintings have the capacity to depict “true-to-life” images in a two-dimensional form, an important aspect that in China distinguished art from “non-art” before the full bloom of literati art. Both are affected by their respective technical processes and materials, and are appreciated through visual analysis including compositional schemata, the means of indicating illusionary depth, the treatment of forms in space, and the use of colour.208 The perception of kesi as an art form changed over time as a result of the rise of the amateur art of the scholar-officials and consequent changes in art discourse.  Scholar- officials from the Southern Song dynasty onward painted for an elite audience of highly educated, well-positioned men, and these works were written about and critiqued by the same individuals.  The success of a work of art affects its value (and vice versa), in that it  206 Clunas, Art in China, 185. For further information regarding the collections of Ming dynasty literati, see Sir Percival David, ed. and trans., Chinese Connoisseurship: The Ko Ku Yao Lun: The Essential Criteria of Antiquities, with a facsimile of the Chinese text of 1388 (London: Faber and Faber, 1971). 207 Clunas, Art in China, 55. 208 Wen Fong, “How to Understand Chinese Painting,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 115, no. 4 (August, 1971): 282-283.  64 appreciates in significance and agency by having recognized effects on culture and society. The nature of these effects changes the nature of the work or the way it is viewed, leading to reevaluation of the work itself.209 The literati eventually became the arbiters of taste in the empire, and considered most court-sponsored art, whatever the medium, to be anachronistic and irrelevant.  Like other court art, in critical circles kesi lost status, but this was never a measure of its agency, which was based on other factors including cultural prestige and auspiciousness. Translations, not Copies The similarity of imagery and style between Chinese court paintings and many kesi, as well as the primacy of painting, require kesi to be situated in relation to copying, a key aspect of Chinese art.  The literati valued spontaneity and the individual expression of the painter’s mind, yet even they referenced each other’s and older works in their paintings.  Is the agency of kesi in the cultural milieu only borrowed from its painting-like imagery, and did the weavers have agency as creators?  I believe that an in-depth consideration of kesi necessitates not only investigating the sources of the imagery of individual works, but also how the transfer of imagery across two very different mediums was effected. Considering the practice of copying in its Chinese art historical context may be helpful in determining its importance in the creation of kesi.  Paintings that were based on other paintings became as treasured and famous as the original works (which in many cases are no longer extant) without any loss of status by virtue of being modeled on another work. “Bona fide copying in ancient China…was not only honorable but also a vitally necessary  209 Jack Meiland, “Originals, Copies, and Aesthetic Value,” in The Forger’s Art: Forgery and the Philosophy of Art, ed. Denis Dutton (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983), 126.  65 form of art,” as it was the only means to reproduce, circulate, and perpetuate works of art.210 Artists referred to other works as a means to establish lineage, claim authority, demonstrate intellectual prowess, and increase status through association.  Such activity is not unique to China; Grisella Pollack suggests that the French Impressionists—touted as the first Western avant-garde—used a system of “reference [to other works], deference [to the masters], and difference” to position themselves and their work.211 This aptly describes the approach of the literati, who drew on the lineage of painting schools and the canon of art as reference points for their art and to demonstrate artistic authority and credibility, but also deliberately differentiated themselves from their predecessors.  Court art was no different in its respect for and reiteration of its own well-established academy canon, but establishing difference was not so much a priority or necessarily encouraged.  By the Qing dynasty, four basic degrees of increasing originality in copying had become codified in art practice: mo, lin, fang, and zao. 212  In mo 摹, the lines of an original are literally traced with the aim of producing an exact replica, whereas in lin 臨, lines are drawn “stroke for stroke,” resulting in a close copy.  Fang 倣 is a free interpretation in the manner of the master, an attempt to capture the essence of the original without line for line replication.  Zao 造 invents a new interpretation inspired by an older work, created in the copyist’s own style and not intended to replicate the original.  The Song critic Yue Ke describes a free-hand copy that shows a true understanding of the expressive idea of a painting as “like a wild goose that flies along with its companion.  Together, they are like two  210 Wen Fong, “The Problem of Forgeries in Chinese Art, Part One,” Artibus Asiae 25, no. 2/3 (1962): 95. 211 Griselda Pollock, Avant-Garde Gambits: Gender and the Color of Art History, (London: Thames and Hudson, 1992), 12-14. 212 Wen Fong, “Forgeries,”103, 110; also the next three sentences. Robert Smith also includes bian 變, “creative metamorphosis.”  66 clouds drifting across the blue sky.  Swiftly they glide over ten thousand miles, each coming eventually to rest at a different location.” 213 This is in contrast to a traced copy, which is “like building a house”: everything is measured and there can be no spontaneous deviation from the plan, and a copyist may replicate lines without attending to their underlying logic. Whether painted or woven, the difference between an original and a poor imitation is obvious.  A copy of Shen Zifan’s kesi Poetic Sentiment in Autumnal Mountains lacks the precision of line, refinement of colour definition, and delicacy of detail and hachures of the original.214 The manner of creation of a work of art from conception to realization is a dialogue that takes place between the creator and the work, and “the medium offers constant surprises and suggestions.”215 A superior copy is one in which the weaver is guided by the model, but makes constant decisions and judgments in response to what has been woven and is yet to be woven. The great European tapestries of the Renaissance that were designed by painters (both famous and unknown) stand in their own right as original artworks, and are generally not characterized in the literature as copies or imitations of an original painting or the preliminary painted cartoon.216 The cartoon is understood as only an intermediate step between the initial sketch or design and its final interpretation as a tapestry:  213 Wen Fong, “Forgeries,” 11; also the sentence following. 214 See 緙絲 特展 圖華 Kesi tezhan tulu, 10-14. The National Palace Museum is fortunate to have in its collection two versions of a landscape woven by Shen Zifan (10-13, plates 1 and 2) as well as a copy with the image reversed (14, plate 3). 215 Rudolf Arnheim, “On Duplication,” in Dutton, 236. 216 “Cartoon” is the term for the working plan and guide for a tapestry, usually a full-size drawing that is prepared by the designer-weaver or a cartoon designer. It is placed directly behind the warp threads during weaving or used when marking the design onto the warp, in which case it is then used as a reference drawing. For a very interesting discussion of tapestry as an art form, including the perceived values of Raphael’s cartoons versus the tapestries woven from them, see Arthur Danto, “Reflections on Fabric and Meaning: The Tapestry and  67 The work of creation was divided between a painter, who made the drawing or model, and the weaver, who executed it. … Still another artist, the cartoon designer, usually intervened between the painter and the weaver.  He enlarged the painter’s model to the full size of the weaving and made other changes dictated by his understanding of the weaving technique to assist in the translation from one medium to another.217  Thus, following the original idea, whatever its origin, there are two subsequent interpretations of the image before its final form as a tapestry is complete.  The weaver further modifies the composition already modified as a cartoon “by imposing upon it the special limitations and conventions of his own craft,” with the final image “only a reflection of the designer’s idea, transformed by the nature of textile methods and materials.”218 In other words, the medium itself has agency and acts on the artist, setting limits on the final form of the art;219 indeed, if the work is conceived as a tapestry it will only be fully realized once produced in that medium, regardless of the model.  Rudolph Arnheim troubles the question of originality in his essay “On Duplication.”  He states: When an artist makes a drawing in preparation for an etching or woodcut that will be executed by himself or by some other craftsman, is the drawing the work of art, or does only the executed print deserve that distinction?  Is the description of a work in a different medium…to be considered the work of art, or does such a description merely supply the information needed for the production of the work? ... None of these questions can be answered by an either/or decision.220   the Loincloth,” in Marion Bouton Stroud, New Material as New Media: The Fabric Workshop and Museum, ed. Kelly Mitchell (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2002). 217 Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Ann G. Bennett, Five Centuries of Tapestry from The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo, Japan: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Charles Tuttle Co. Inc., 1976), 7. Emphasis added. 218 Adolph S. Cavallo, Tapestries of Europe and of Colonial Peru in the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1967), 26. 219 Osborne and Tanner, 11. 220 Arnheim, 235.  68 Through this brief consideration of the nuances of copying, it can be seen that kesi, due to its method of creation, requires additional steps of interpretation that necessarily take it further away from whatever sketch, draft, or model is used as the original.  Furthermore, weavers had freedom to alter the starting image as needed during weaving.  An examination of Rice Planting and The Hunt shows that the ink marks made on the warp threads have, over time, bled through to the surface of the weaving, revealing places where the weaver deviated from the original guidelines (fig. 23).  Wen Fong confirms the impossibility of exact copies: No two manually-manufactured pictures can be precisely and exactly alike.  Every ‘slip’ of the hand reflects either a change in the physical circumstances, which may be entirely accidental, or a change of the attitudes of the maker, which, we hope, will be significantly meaningful.221 The process of tapestry is much better suited to some types of representation than others, from the standpoints of both style and intent.  Like painting, tapestry weaving also has medium-specific methods of representation and distinct “ways of working with forms, color, and texture that are unique to weaving, that exploit weaving’s basic characteristics and maximize their expressive characteristics,”222 such as the underlying grid structure, hachures, and slits.  Whereas a painted mark may be applied to a surface without constraint, kesi is constructed in a woven structure that proceeds sequentially.  The image is literally built up as the tapestry composition is created and is interdependent with the woven fabric; thus the  221 Wen Fong, “Forgeries,” 103. 222 Kate Dobbs Ariail, “Rhythm is the Structure: Silvia Heyden’s search for weaverly expression in tapestry,” Fiberarts Magazine 20, no. 3 (Nov./Dec. 1993): 57.  69 introduction of the technology of the loom alters the intention of the original “language” of painting, and the image is enunciated in a different way.223 I propose that kesi fall into two categories:  fang or imitation, given that an exact copy of a painting is impossible in a woven structure, and zao, inventions or new interpretations that are, to a greater or lesser extent, representations of the canon of Chinese art.  As to the latter, numerous kesi can be identified that do not follow established styles of paintings.  In the former case, tapestries that may be based on specific original paintings must be considered adaptations or translations, where innovations are made and liberties are taken with the model in order to transfer the image to a new medium.224 This not only recognizes the relationship between kesi and painting, but also the agency of the weavers. The notion of adaptation suggests the idea of “linguistic transaction” from Talal Asad’s work on translation.  Asad suggests that the practice of translation is an opportunity to explore further possibilities of thought and language, where the host language (in this case, kesi) may be enriched, expanded and deepened through contact with the guest language (painting).225 “Linguistic transaction” is initiated when a guest language is invited into a host language, and through selection and combination is reinvented.226 As a result of translation activity, “meanings shift and transform within a given language, and differ between  223 The idea of technology changing the intention of language comes from Rustom Bharucha, Rajasthan, An Oral History: Conversations with Komal Kothari (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2003), 9. 224 Wen Fong, “Forgeries,” 116. 225 Talal Asad, “The Concept of Cultural Translation in British Social Anthropology,” in Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, ed. James Clifford and George E. Marcus (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986), 157.  Lydia Liu points out that a weaker or less dominant host language is more likely to be affected than vice versa. 226 Lydia Liu, Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity: China 1900-1987 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995), 26-27.  70 languages,” even as those doing the translating attempt to maintain coherence.227 To presume that words in one language will carry foreign concepts, or that equivalent concepts even exist in another language, is to suggest that the relationship between the form and content of a word is arbitrary and universal.228 Like a competent translator, the weaver had to understand the techniques of both painting and kesi in order to produce a superior rendition, one that retained the coherence of painting while maintaining its identity as kesi.229 In this way, by virtue of adoption and re-presentation of imperial academy conventions beginning with the figure-ground relationship, expression in the medium of kesi changed.  Although kesi was influenced (and affected) by painting, over the span of seven hundred years their meeting constituted a “vigorous interaction”230 between media rather than a one-sided incursion.  This visual interchange is evidenced by Rice Planting and The Hunt, which wholly employ tapestry vernacular, incorporate motifs and themes from the academic canon, and use the conventions of figure-ground composition from painting, yet do not rely on painting for their style of expression.  227 Nikos Papastergiadis, “The Limits of Cultural Translation,” in Over Here: International Perspectives on Art and Culture, ed. Gerald Mosquera and Jean Fisher (New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art, 2004), 335. 228 Papastergiadis, 337. 229 How this was accomplished depended not only on the inherent resources of the medium and the skill of the weaver, but also the interests of, and the demands upon, the weaver. 230 Brown, “Weaving of Pictures,” 9,13.  71 Conclusion  Reading the Empire Through Rice Planting and The Hunt  Once in power, the Qing rulers were committed to maintaining their Manchu identity, yet also were guided by the ideals of Confucianism in their rule of the Chinese empire. Emperor Kangxi sought equilibrium between these two competing agendas in imperial institutions as a way to both gain the support of the Han population and retain the loyalty of Manchu bannermen.  The notion of fugu was an underlying strategy for both political and cultural revival, where the Song dynasty provided a model for governance, cultural institutions, and art production.  Chinese artistic traditions were re-purposed by the Qing rulers to advertise the linkage between the emperor and socio-political orthodoxy, acknowledge literati mores and desires, and address Manchu longing for their northern homelands and nomadic life.  Like Emperor Huizong, Kangxi sought to use art production and collections to “influence critical opinion and strengthen the position of the court in the cultural life of the time.”231 Within this political climate of the late seventeenth century, Rice Planting and The Hunt were part of an imperial Qing program of documentary, didactic, commemorative, and celebratory art production designed to confirm the legitimacy of their regime. Through comparison with a selection of paintings dating from the thirteenth to seventeenth centuries I have demonstrated how the imagery in Rice Planting and The Hunt references motifs in literati painting, court sponsored art, and popular mass-produced illustrations.  The Confucian moral principles so important to the literati are affirmed by the depiction of scholar-officials and farmers living in harmony with their social stations, each  231 Ebrey, Accumulating Culture, 21.  72 other, and their surroundings.  The Manchu Way that was vital to Qing ethnic identity is promoted through a representation of robust nomadic life.  The court-mandated genres of gengzhi tu and fanzu tu are promoted and elevated through their depiction in the pair of kesi. The simple, colourful style of Rice Planting and The Hunt and their auspicious meanings recall the popular form of nianhua.  The Manchu not only claimed and reinvented these Chinese cultural forms to serve their own ends, but also re-appropriated the medium of kesi, a technique that originated in West-central Asia and was significant as a marker of elite status to Northern peoples. Within their social matrix, Rice Planting and The Hunt promoted the requirements of their patron and the emperor.  The action of viewing the kesi allowed viewers to abduct and gauge the wealth, social connections, and cultural sophistication of the client who commissioned their production, probably a Chinese bannerman such as Cao Yin or a group of silk merchants.  Further, due to their subject matter these works advanced the patron’s actual or anticipated relationship with the emperor.  This pair of kesi projected the emperor’s self-image as a beneficent and compassionate sovereign who brought peace to the empire out of concern for the welfare of his subjects.  By acting on his behalf, the kesi distributed his authority, and the depiction of an idealized version of the empire and emperor corroborated the desire of the populace for security and prosperity.  Regardless of the skill of the artist who physically made the kesi, or the influence of the patron whose commission caused them to be made, the “efficacious virtue” of power in the concept of imperial agency establishes the emperor as the primary and ultimate creator of Rice Planting and The Hunt.232 We are fortunate that Rice Planting and The Hunt not only survived the vagaries of the last 300 years, but even more significant, endured as a particular pair out of the six kesi in  232 Ronald Egan in Bickford, “Aesthetic of Agency,” 91.  73 the original set.  Woven artworks have many dangers to navigate, since as fabric they are not only perishable but can also be repurposed and refashioned.  While charming, their cheerful imagery of these kesi and the quality of weaving certainly was not enough to guarantee their continued existence, and may even have served to belie the deeper seriousness of their political relevance.  The artist who designed and made Rice Planting and The Hunt may not have enjoyed acclaim in his own time, but today it is his intention and expertise that we experience first in these compelling and intriguing artworks. One Medium, Many Approaches How are we to assess the basis of the agency of kesi?  As virtuoso objects made from silk, kesi carried cultural prestige from its beginning, further enhanced by virtue of it adoption as a medium for a court art.  The dominance of painting and its influence on all the arts in China required that I consider kesi not only with regard to sources of imagery but also vis-à-vis practices of copying.  I argued that while the transfer of composition and imagery from painting was an impetus for the transformation of the medium, kesi was far more than a means to imitate paintings.  Indeed, even early kesi which have the general appearance of paintings seldom correlate to specific works, and while academy painters very likely provided cartoons to weavers of kesi, the relative values of their respective work and status as court artisans is hard to discern.233 By the end of the Song dynasty, kesi was firmly established as an art form, having had more than a century of development.  At what point is the imagery in kesi recognized as integral and fundamental to the art form, rather than described as imitative or painting?  233 Clunas, Art in China, 63. Clunas further cautions that care should be taken in assumptions about the status or even the gender of makers (and consumers).  74 I posit that those commissioning and making kesi believed that there were particular reasons for and value in selecting tapestry as the means to convey complex meanings.  The designers and weavers of kesi were highly innovative and experimented with many approaches which have varying degrees of correspondence to the motifs and styles employed in paintings.  These do not represent a sequential development, as all were produced concurrently by the late Ming dynasty.  A brief discussion of these variations will give an indication of the range of kesi, and the potential for further inquiry. A small number of kesi were woven as multiples or as explicit copies of particular paintings, other kesi, or artists’ styles.  Three Ming dynasty kesi after the Song painter Cui Bai include titles, inscriptions and/or woven-in painter’s signatures, concrete evidence that the works referenced specific paintings (possibly no longer extant) or his individual style.234 A kesi by Wu Qi after the painting An Immortal Holding a Long Life Peach by Shen Zhou was woven at least twice,235 and Shen Zifan’s Poetic Sentiment of Autumnal Mountains from the Southern Song exists in three versions.  One has the image reversed, suggesting that the original kesi was traced and then woven from the back as a copy.236 The Qianlong emperor was very interested in the accurate translation and transmission of Buddhist texts into the various languages of his realm, an interest that extended to commissioning many works of Buddhist art in different media including kesi and embroidery.237 Buddhas of the Three Ages by Qianlong’s favorite painter Ding Guanpeng provided the model for a copy in kesi, both  234 See 緙絲特展圖華 Kesi tezhan tulu, 50-53, plates 20 and 21, and Mailey, 28-29, figure 9. 235 The kesi is also known as Dongfang Suo Stealing the Peaches of Longevity; for details on these works, see note 141, above. The whereabouts of Shen Zhou’s painting is unknown to me. 236 See 緙絲特展圖華 Kesi tezhan tulu, 10-15, plates 1-3. 237 Berger, 40. These works were presented as gifts that functioned to solidify Manchu relations, especially with the great monasteries of Tibet and Mongolia, and certainly had political as well as religious meaning. For a fascinating discussion of Qianlong’s use of translation projects during his reign, see Berger, 36-46.  75 held by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.238 Qianlong also commissioned kesi and embroidered versions of the Sadaksari Lokesvara to honour the selection of the eighth Dalai Lama (1758-1804); two versions survive, one in the Potala Palace in Lhasa and the other in the Asian Art Museum.239 How did the translation to kesi augment imagery that was first expressed in a painting? Some kesi remain closer to their Central Asian roots as functional fabric, combining a picture plane filled with all-over patterning with the notion of a figure-ground relationship.240 Were such works intended for particular purposes different than kesi that adhered more closely to academy conventions, or do they reflect a regional style?  Hybrid works combine a tapestry woven ground with fine details added through the use of painted ink and colour (and/or sometimes embroidery).  When the painting is extensive, these works are neither fully tapestries nor paintings, but in the best examples neither the tapestry-woven coloured shapes nor the painted details take precedence; each technique enhances the other.  Do such works show that in practice there was less hierarchical differentiation of media than might be supposed? Rice Planting and The Hunt as well as a number of other kesi from the mid-to-late seventeenth century are fully developed as expressions in tapestry.  These works aligned the  238 Collection of the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. See Michael Knight, He Li and Terese Tse Bartholomew, “Imperial Art from the Reign of the Qianlong Emperor,” Orientations 34, no. 1 (January 2003), 52-53, figures 5 and 6, and Berger, 41-42, figure 9; see also Berger, plate 5 for the original painting. According to Berger, a second kesi version resides in the Potala Palace, Lhasa. 239 Berger, 44, see plates 6 and 7. The mantra across the top of this image is actually the subject of the work, thus both the repetitive action of weaving or embroidery and the repetition of the image repeats and performs the mantra. 240 See, for example, several Ming kesi with the subjects of birds and flowers in Mailey, 30 figure 11; phoenixes in Mailey, 43 figure 24 and Shelagh Vainker, Chinese Silk: A Cultural History (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2004), 166, figure 106; and seven pairs of birds in a garden, in Clothed to Rule the Universe, 46, plate 29. Mailey suggests that the works noted above published in her article are screen panels.  76 historic practices and technical strengths of kesi with classical or literary illusions, auspicious references, and the popular taste of the Ming dynasty for strong colour and meticulous style.241 In addition to Rice Planting, The Hunt, and Daoist Immortals at the Turquoise Pond, other kesi of the period similar in style include Dragonfly and Lotus Plants in The Freer Gallery of Art, a work with the “hundred boys” motif in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and The Immortals Celebrating Longevity and a kesi based on the legend of the “nine coloured deer” both in the Chris Hall Collection Trust.242 These kesi all have a vitality that is largely absent from works that are close copies of paintings, which seem stilted and overly fussy in comparison.  Were these exceptional works a reflection of a local style, or were all made in the same workshop for imperial and private clients?  Why were Qing dynasty kesi technically inferior to those woven in the Song, even as the silk industry advanced?  What has become of the companion pieces to Rice Planting and The Hunt?  I believe that further research to explore the circumstances that motivated the creation of kesi will have wider application to and implications for the consideration of visual culture in China. Kesi for Zhuren In this thesis, I endeavored to begin the process of uncovering and presenting a new, alternative reading of the form and practice of kesi from the perspective of the study of visual  241 Wen Fong, “Creating a Synthesis,” 463. 242 See Dragonfly and Lotus Plants, F1911.163t, The Freer Gallery of Art, http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/singleObject.cfm?ObjectNumber=F1911.163t (accessed April 26, 2010); “hundred boys” kesi 17.607 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (identified incorrectly as a design of “Daoist figures”), http://www.mfa.org/collections/index.asp (accessed April 26, 2010); nine coloured deer kesi in Vainker, Chinese Silk, 186-187, figure 119 (identified as an expression of the “one hundred deer” theme); The Immortals Celebrating Longevity, Zhao Feng, Treasures in Silk (Hong Kong: ISAT/Costume Squad Ltd., 1999), 325 plate 10.10. Zhao Feng also includes another stylistically similar version of a kesi with the “hundred boys” motif, see 240, figure 08.00i.  77 culture in China.  In this, I emphasized its distinctive character, history, and strengths, as well as acknowledged its relationship to painting.  A deeper appreciation and understanding of the social and political role that kesi performed as an art in China is the result. Rice Planting and The Hunt tell a story of the challenges of Manchu rule, the necessity to convey imperial authority, and the desire to please and support the emperor.  By playing on Han Chinese fears and playing up Manchu differences, the Qing effectively played host to the cultural prestige inherent in Rice Planting and The Hunt.  This enriched and expanded their culture, and reinforced their superior position as zhuren 主人, masters of the household—the empire.  78 FIGURES    Figure 1. Anonymous, Rice Planting, late seventeenth century. Hanging scroll, silk kesi, 235 cm X 135 cm. Reproduced courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Victoria, Canada).  79   Figure 2. Anonymous, The Hunt, late seventeenth century. Hanging scroll, silk kesi, 235 cm X 135 cm. Reproduced courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Victoria, Canada).  80      Figure 3. Diagram and woven examples of tapestry techniques: A) slits and B) stair-step shifts in weft meetings to create shapes. Illustration and woven examples by Jean Kares.  81       Figure 4. Rice Planting. Detail showing the slits between areas of colour that function as vertical lines. Photograph by Jean Kares.  82      Figure 5. Kesi loom in the National Silk Museum, Hangzhou, China. Photograph by Jean Kares.  83      Figure 6. Zhu Kerou (active 1127-1162), Blossoms and Bird, Song dynasty (960-1279). Album leaf, silk kesi, 25 X 24.1 cm. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China.  84          Figure 7. Wang Hui (1632-1717), The Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Seven: Wuxi to Suzhou, 1695. Handscroll, ink and colour on silk, 67.8 X 2195 cm. Detail depicting the arrival of the Emperor Kangxi emperor into Suzhou. 2004.19.75.1, The Mactaggart Art Collection, University of Alberta Museums, Edmonton, Canada. © 2010 University of Alberta.   85        Figure 8. Qian Xuan (c. 1235-before 1307), Wang Xizhi Watching Geese, Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Handscroll, ink, colour, and gold on paper; overall dimensions with mounting 27.9 X 1063.8 cm. Detail depicting the pavilion with its stone foundation and view across a lake. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973 (1973.120.6). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  86        Figure 9. Rice Planting. Detail depicting the scholars in the pavilion, including the stone foundation. Photograph by Jean Kares.  87   Figure 10. Wang E (c. 1462-after 1541), Crossing a Bridge to Visit a Friend. Hanging scroll, ink and colour on silk, 172 X 105.8 cm. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China.  88   Figure 11. Tai Chin (1388-1462), Returning Late from a Spring Outing, Hanging scroll, ink and colour on silk, 167.9 X 83.1 cm. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China.  89     Figure 12. Rice Planting. Detail depicting farmers with rakes and working in the paddies, and scholars in the pavilion. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Victoria, Canada).   90    Figure 13. Jiao Bingzhen, First Shoots, 1696 edition of the Gengzhi tu. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China.  91     Figure 14. Jiao Bingzhen, Planting Seedlings, 1696 edition of the Gengzhi tu. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China.  92       Figure 15. The Hunt. Detail depicting the emperor’s family with a yurt in the background. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Victoria, Canada).   93       Figure 16. The Hunt. Detail depicting the riding lesson of the heir apparent, archery hunting from the back of a galloping horse, and the white elephant. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Victoria, Canada).  94       Figure 17. Anonymous, Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute: The Story of Lady Wenji; Episode 5: Encampment by a Stream, early fifteenth century after a Song dynasty painter. Handscroll, ink, colour, and gold on silk; overall dimensions with mounting: 29.2 X 1544.5 cm. Detail depicting Lady Wenji and her Xiongnu husband in the nomads’ camp. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973 (1973.120.3). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  95        Figure 18. Anonymous, Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute: The Story of Lady Wenji; Episode 13: The Farewell, early fifteenth century after a Song academy painter. Handscroll, ink, colour, and gold on silk; overall dimensions with mounting: 29.2 X 1544.5 cm. Detail depicting Lady Wenji’s farewell. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973 (1973.120.3). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  96    Figure 19. Attributed to Chen Zhuzhong (active c. 1200-1230), Lady Wen-chi’s Return to China, Southern Song dynasty. Hanging scroll, ink and colour on silk, 147.4 X 107.7 cm. Detail depicting Lady Wenji and her family sharing a meal. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China.   97    Figure 20. Liu Guandao (active c. 1275-1300), Khubilai Khan Hunting, 1280. Hanging scroll, ink and colour on silk, 182.9 X 104.1 cm. National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China.  98   Figure 21. Anonymous, Daoist Immortals at the Turquoise Pond, late seventeenth century. Hanging scroll, silk kesi, 225.5 X 165 cm. Reproduced courtesy of the Myrna Myers Collection.  99       Figure 22. Rice Planting (top) and The Hunt (bottom). Details of the bands of auspicious “five coloured” clouds. 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