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Performance Illustration

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Chapter Summary

This chapter refers specifically to stage performance, while ‘performance illustration’ refers to illustration inspired by the stage or alluding to the stage. It presents a detailed, comprehensive, and systematic account of the relation between stage and performance illustration during the Wanli period. The chapter attempts to resolve once and for all the dispute over whether the illustrations of the late Ming period allude to the stage. Some scholars have noted that the depiction of theatrical props such as tables, curtains, drapery, etc. in illustrations is emblematic of the influence of stage performance. The chapter shows that drama illustration depicts figures gesturing in the manner of the stage, and that these gestures fall within the traditional categories of ke-jie convention. The four characters in the Shide Tang illustration of Pipa ji are spatially divided, with Cai Bojie in the foreground, and the remaining characters in the middle ground.

Keywords: Cai Bojie; drama illustration; ke-jie convention; late Ming period; performance illustration; Pipa ji; Shide Tang illustration; Wanli period



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