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Theater of the DeadA Social Turn in Chinese Funerary Art, 1000-1400$
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Jeehee Hong

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824855376

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824855376.001.0001

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Theater, Body, and Passage

Theater, Body, and Passage

(p.105) 4 Theater, Body, and Passage
Theater of the Dead

Jeehee Hong

University of Hawai'i Press

The last case shows the culmination of the second mode of representing theatrical performance. The head panel of a sarcophagus excavated from the tomb of Pan Dechong, a Yuan-dynasty Quanzhen Daoist master in Ruicheng, Shanxi province, bears a carved image of four actors in a theater that incorporates a physical hole drilled into the stone. This new design highlights a contemporary understanding of the coffin as an idealized microcosm of the “eternal” body. The interpenetration between the represented stage and the actual interior of the coffin further reveals the ways in which the realm of the everyday world and the realm of the dead were conceived of as interacting with one another in profoundly theatrical terms. The complex interplay between the ideas of inside and outside alluded in the image illuminates contemporary experiences of the theater partially traceable in both dramatic texts and the architectural structure of a particular type of temple stage.

Keywords:   Chinese, tomb, temple, sarcophagus, actor, theater, Yuan dynasty, drama, theatricality, architecture

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