Conference paper “To Visualize or Not to Visualize: Commemorating the Suppression of Revolt in Early Qing”

In November 2014, scholars from several universities in Western and Eastern Europe will meet at the University of Konstanz, Germany, to discuss the visualisation of power, resistance and punishment in early modern times.

The overall aim of our conference is to find cross-cultural links as well as sources of conflict and misunderstanding in the respective visual traditions and their socio-political contexts.

Ya-chen (Maya) Ma (Tsing Hua University, Taiwan) works on French pictures of the wars that led to the end of the Ming dynasty in China.

In her conference paper, she will analyse the visual commemoration of successfully suppressed revolts in early Qing China.

China map Dutch CUT 2

In contrast to the major genres of Chinese painting, such as landscape, bird and flower, or the figure, revolts in particular, constitute a marginalized subject matter. The Ming dynasty (1368-1644), however, witnessed the popularity of career imagery sponsored by or for officials to depict the highlights of their lives including their supervision of the suppression of local or frontier revolts. This trend was neither confined to officials’ circles and the borders of China nor interrupted by the Ming/Qing transition. Initially the Manchus who founded the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) embraced the trend, but soon during the Kangxi reign (1662-1722) images related to the suppression of revolts either disappeared from the imperial court or were aggrandized outside. This paper explores the political and cultural contexts in which visualizing or not visualizing the suppression of revolts was part of the pictorial, textual, and ritual matrix of commemorating the military achievements of officials, the emperor and the state in early Qing period.

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