As the most widely-used painting manual in China, the Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting (Jieziyuan huazhuan 芥子園畫傳, hereafter Mustard Seed) has long been considered to have been a handbook for beginners. This article problematizes this relatively fixed notion by examining different editions of the manual and argues that the pedagogical function that most people take for granted is an anachronistic construction. In fact, the woodblock-printed Mustard Seed was regarded as an illegitimate painting manual in the mainstream art scene after its publication because it used woodblock printing to convey painting techniques. The canonization of the manual started in the late Qing (1862-1911), as a result of the availability of affordable lithographic editions. It soon became a primer for many would-be painters and gradually entered art schools in the Republican period (1912-1949), changing the traditional pedagogies of painting education. While highlighting the multivalent social functions of Mustard Seed, this paper will also show how changes in printing technique are connected to Mustard Seed’s canonization.
The collection of Chinese wooden movable types is among the oldest treasures of the Imprimerie Nationale. The types were carved in Paris between 1715 and 1819, and they are a legacy of the first French attempts to master the expertise necessary to print Chinese alongside Western alphabetic scripts. This article, which is the result of research conducted at the Imprimerie Nationale, combined with a study of historical and literary sources from various periods kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France and at Italian libraries, provides a description of the types’ physical characteristics and relates how they were created, designed, organized, engraved, employed, classified and stored.
Our research focuses on the attempts to include Chinese characters in publications in Western languages which were made in Europe and particularly in France from the beginning of the eighteenth century onwards. At a time when Europeans were beginning to expand their range of activities in Asia, printing in Asian scripts was a technical as well as a commercial, political and intellectual challenge. With no Chinese typographer to help, the French team modelled the types on characters found in a Chinese dictionary imported into France by missionaries, and at the beginning of the nineteenth century they published two dictionaries which included Chinese characters printed with wooden type.