Theater in Two Worlds
Representations of actors and theaters began to occupy tomb spaces in eleventh-century China and continued to flourish throughout the middle period. While corresponding to the popularity of theatrical performances in the everyday world of the living, this phenomenon not only conveyed the specific cultural taste of their major sponsors—a type of local elite who were affluent yet socially underprivileged—but also registered ways in which they envisioned the netherworld. Once transferred from the world of the living to the space for the dead, conspicuous representations of the theatrical spectacles, sculpted in stone, molded in clay, and rendered in paint, reshaped the order of the mortuary realm. The pivotal role in this remaking of the tomb space was realized through two modes of representation in portraying actors, theatrical performances, and theaters, which are explored in the four chapters that follow.
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