Qing China (1644–1912) witnessed a resurgence in architectural painting, a traditional subject category known as jiehua, or boundary painting. Drawing Boundaries concerns itself with the symbolic implications of this impressive and little studied reflorescence. Beginning with a concise and well-illustrated history of the evolution of the tradition, this exciting new study reveals how these images were deployed in the Manchu (Qing) imperial court to define political, social, or cultural boundaries. Characterized by grand conception and regal splendor, the paintings served to enhance the imperial authority of rulers and, to a segment of the elite, to advertise social status. Drawing Boundaries thus speaks to both issues of painting and architectural style and the discourse of powerful cultural forms. In addition to the analysis of how the style of image construction suggests these political and social motivations, the book identifies another aspect of traditional architectural representation unique to the Qing: the use of architectural representation to render form and space. Anita Chung makes the fascinating observation that these renderings create an overwhelming sense of “being there,” a characteristic, she argues, that underscores the Qing concern for the substance of things—a sensibility toward the physical world characteristic of the period and emblematic of a new worldview.
Subjects: History, Architecture and Architectural History
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