The story of Mulian rescuing his mother’s soul from hell was featured in numerous pictorial versions of different formats in China. They could take the form of multi-scene handscrolls, illustrations in manuscripts and editions, and separate scenes in devotional religious art objects such as murals and reliefs. The Mulian subject was of primary importance in the popularization of Buddhist ideas among different layers of society. The earliest extant pictorial versions of this story in China (tenth century) were related to Buddhist storytelling with the use of visual devices. Illustrations appeared in several written versions of the Mulian story that were circulated among different layers of society in China in the twelfth through fifteenth centuries. These illustrated versions showed different degrees of elaboration, spread among common folk and the imperial courts of the Yuan and Ming dynasties. In this article I explore the functions of the narrative illustrations of the Mulian story in various social contexts. These functions were quite varied in case of most art objects analyzed here: pictures in woodblock editions and manuscripts augmented the textual part and also made them appealing to the lay readers.
This article examines special features of “Chinoiserie” or “Chinese fashion” (“Kitaischina”) in Russia from the late 17th to the early 18th century: The reign of Peter the First. It discusses this cultural phenomenon’s historical origins, demonstrates the role of Chinese luxury goods and art objects in the era’s Russo-Chinese cultural exchange, and illustrates how Chinese decorative arts were used in Russian palaces. While Chinoiserie in Russia was influenced by similar trends in Western Europe, it was rooted in the unique history of regular contacts between Russia and the Qing Empire. Chinese objects not only appeared as commodities in the higher levels of Russian society, they also contributed to the prestige of the Russian state. Peter the First had a political purpose behind the collection, display and imitation of Chinese art objects in Russian palaces, as these practices demonstrated the growing wealth and power of newly established Russian Empire, which enjoyed trade connections with the Qing Empire. While contemporary perceptions of China in Russia were derived mostly by the exotic images of export art, ethnographic collections of genuine Chinese utensils, which were founded during that period, also contributed to Russian views of China. This research uses a comprehensive methodology, combining studies of material objects preserved in Russian museums and written sources, including archival records.
Rostislav Berezkin and †Boris L. Riftin
This article introduces a reprint made in Hanoi in 1772 of an undated Chinese edition, originally published in Nanjing, of The Precious Scroll of Incense Mountain (Xiangshan baojuan). This edition, called the “Nanjing redaction” in the article, was preserved only partially as a ritual manual in China. Yet it provides important evidence for determining the early date of production of the text. By comparing certain features in the Nanjing redaction and in other redactions that circulated in China, it can be established that the Nanjing redaction is the earliest known to us. Its significance within the history of the baojuan genre is discussed, with special attention paid to the unique form and content of the text.
Cet article présente la réimpression, réalisée à Hanoï en 1772, d’une édition chinoise non datée, originellement publiée à Nankin, du Rouleau précieux de la Montagne de l’Encens (Xiangshan baojuan). Appelée “version de Nankin” dans l’article, cette édition n’a survécu que partiellement en Chine comme manuel de rituel. Elle fournit pourtant d’importants indices sur l’ancienneté de la composition du texte. En comparant certains aspects de la version de Nankin et d’autres versions ayant circulé en Chine, il est possible d’établir que la version de Nankin et la plus ancienne qui nous soit parvenue. Son importance dans l’histoire du genre baojuan fait l’objet d’un examen dans lequel une attention particulière est accordée à l’originalité de la forme et du contenu du texte.
Victor H. Mair and Rostislav Berezkin
Tô Lan Nguyễn and Rostislav Berezkin
This article deals with the process of adaptation of Chinese precious scrolls (baojuan) vernacular narratives in Vietnam in the period from the 18th to the early 20th centuries, with the example of the Princess Miaoshan story, which served the popular hagiography of Bodhisattva Guanyin (V. Quan Âm). This story was featured in several baojuan texts of the 15th-19th centuries that were transmitted from China to Vietnam in the 18th and 19th centuries. Several Vietnamese adaptations, both in Hán văn and in the indigenous language, transcribed in Nôm characters, were circulated in the printed form. We have collected these adaptations and undertaken a comparative study of the texts, demonstrating the complex nature of the literary exchange between vernacular literature with religious themes in Vietnam and China. We examine the place of these adaptations in traditional Vietnamese culture and demonstrate the differences in the social background of the original Chinese baojuan and their Vietnamese adaptations.