Fulfilling a Vow at Xiangshan 香山還願

David Leffman Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Here’s a woodblock illustration to a folktale and opera set at the Daxiangshan temple outside Miaowan in Shaanxi province (陕西省耀县庙湾镇大香山寺). This complex dates back to the fourth century and sits high on a mountain ridge above the town, with temple halls dotting the summits. The story goes that King Zhuang had a daughter named Miaoshan, who despite her marriage wanted …

The Mianzhu Woodblock Rubbing Mystery

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Here are two ink rubbings, apparently taken from engraved stone tablets, of deities Zhao Gongming, the military wealth god (riding the tiger); and the sword-wielding demon-catcher Zhong Kui. The Chinese characters 鎮(家)宅 identify them as door gods protecting a household. But are they what they seem? Engraving stone tablets with the calligraphy and paintings of famous artists has a long …

Applying Clan Law to Demons: Zhou Han and Griffith John

David Leffman woodblock, Woodblock print 1 Comment

Here’s a Chinese print apparently illustrating a typical nineteenth-century court scene. Flanked by two rows of officials, a magistrate and his staff sit behind a desk judging criminal cases, while out in front the court police dole out beatings and other punishments to encourage suspects to confess. A bit savage perhaps, but part of daily life at the time. Except …

Rank Badge Beasts

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This hand-coloured Chinese woodblock print from Yangliuqing, a famous craft centre outside of Tianjin city in northern China, came up recently at auction. The title, wenjing wuwei (文經武緯) literally means “civil warp, military woof” – the idea that civil and military departments should work closely together to govern the country. In reality, civil officials, who were only appointed after years …