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3. Picturing or diagramming the universe

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Chapter Summary

This chapter is a broad speculation on image-making from the late Eastern Zhou to the Han. It captures the main difference between two systems of visual presentation: one system diagrams the universe with abstract symbols and patterns; the other pictures the universe with a predominantly descriptive language. That these two systems developed in parallel for hundreds of years must imply some profound reasons for this remarkable persistence. What are these reasons? What are the theoretical foundation and practical applications of each system? What is the relationship between them? The chapter addresses the above questions. It focuses on a single aspect of the two kinds of representations of the universe, namely, their connections with different tu, a term used variably in ancient texts for diagrams, charts, illustrations, or pictures.

Keywords: Han; late Eastern Zhou; predominantly descriptive language; tu-pictures; vivid pictorial universe



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    Graphics and Text in the Production of Technical Knowledge in China — Recommend this title to your library
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