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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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A Social Turn in Chinese Funerary Art

(p.136) Postlude
Theater of the Dead

Jeehee Hong

University of Hawai'i Press

The modes of theatricality discerned through the cases of funerary art discussed in the chapters embody a socialized vision of death. This phenomenon, in contrast to classical modes of representing entertainment in tomb spaces prior to the eleventh century, which was primarily framed in terms of cosmological or ritual schemes, is defined as a “social turn” in funerary art. The notion of the social is used in a sense that both the theatrical content and modality manifested in the images do not merely describe “social aspects” of the funerary art, but present a paradigm in which the idea of the netherworld was projected through the frame of the society of the living as a larger whole. This phenomenon shows the sponsoring elites’ position in the changing boundaries among social groups, and also provides a new frame for understanding the increasingly flexible boundaries between disparate rituals and religious practices in middle-period China.

Keywords:   Chinese, tomb, funerary art, theatricality, elite, middle-period, netherworld, socialization, boundary, religion

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