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Making Antiquity in a Northern Song Cemetery
The recent excavation of the late Northern Song cemetery of the Lü family in Lantian, Shaanxi, which proceeded in stages from 2006 to 2012, revealed a funerary archive of unprecedented depth and specificity. The nature and disposition of the objects buried in the cemetery offer new perspectives on the consumption of luxury goods and negotiation of social status, the production of gendered space, the history of childhood, the relationship between ritual and emotional regimes of mourning, and a host of other themes of perennial interest to scholars of premodern China. The cemetery also preserves poignant traces of the precarity that an official’s career brought into lives of their spouses, children, siblings, and other family members. But perhaps the most significant of all the grave goods to the emerge from the deep tombs of the Lü family were the “antiquarian” objects—a series of stone and ceramic implements that recall, in various ways, the bronze vessels and other ritual implements (liqi) of ancient China. In this talk, I situate these archaic and archaistic implements in dialogue with the antiquarian and ritual scholarship of the Neo-Confucian philosopher Lü Dalin (1040–1093) and his brothers, who were members of the third and most prominent of the five generations buried in the cemetery. In the process, I endeavor to show how the production, use, and reuse of these implements constituted a coherent and consistent effort on the part of the family to “make antiquity” in the materiality of their present. Jeffrey Moser is Assistant Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at Brown University. His research attends, broadly, to the conceptual and material processes whereby past things are made present, with particular attention to the ways in which these processes intersect in the artistic practices and scholarly techne of medieval China.


Nov 15, 2021 04:00 PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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