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Confucian Iconography

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Chapter Summary

The Song-Yuan period saw the proliferation of visual representations of Confucius and the creation of imagery illustrating or reflecting his teachings. One type consists of iconic depictions of Confucius, his disciples, and canonized later figures who received offerings in Confucian temples associated with government schools. Formal portraits of meritorious contemporary men also were made for other ritual contexts. Another type comprises diverse portrayals of Confucius himself, either alone or with disciples, which were based on pictures owned by his Kong descendants. These emerged in the 10th century and took different trajectories in the aftermath of the Jin invasion of North China and the Song restoration in the South. A third group includes didactic illustrations of stories and historical events that embodied Confucian moral principles, as well as paintings made at the Southern Song court specifically for Confucian classics. The media discussed include painting, sculpture, incised stone tablets, rubbings, and woodblock-printing.



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