The Artistic Landscape of East Asia: Artifact
Lecture #1, January 7, 2013
Slide #1: Title
Slide #2: Course Information
Slide #3: Course Readings and Materials
Slide #4: Course Requirements
More smaller assignments – potential for disaster is great in a course like this, so smaller,
less demanding assignments and exams, especially since some material will be unfamiliar
even to those familiar with parts of East Asia.
Jennifer Purtle Page 1 2/7/2014 Slide #5: Asia
L: Map of Asia
R: Andrea Pozzo, ceiling, San Ignacio, Rome, 1691-94.
Course on “Cultural landscape of East Asia” – use today’s lecture, in part to familiarize
ourselves with the larger ideas of the course, of the terrain that lies ahead.
Anyone know the origin of the term Asia?
Idea of Asia – longstanding, but principally formed outside what we would call “Asia.”
In early Classical times, the term "Asia" referred only to the small region known today as
Anatolia (a part of Turkey). Eventually however, the name came to denote the much
larger land area with which we associate it today.
The etymology of Asia can only be guessed at. The strongest possibility is that it derives
from a borrowed Semitic root "Asu", which means varyingly 'rising' or 'light', of course a
directional referring to the sunrise, Asia thus meaning 'Eastern Land'.
OED: 1631 MASSINGER Beleeve as you list I. ii, Theis *Asiaticq marchants, whom you
looke on With such contempt.
Andrea Pozzo (1642-1709), S.J. was a Jesuit Coadjutor Brother who wrote of
perspective geometry which was "meant to aid artists and architects". His book
Prospettiva de' pittori et architect(Rome, 1693-1700) was one of the earliest on
perceptivities and was meant to aid artists and architects.
One of the most remarkable sights in Rome is this perspective painting on the ceiling of
St. Ignatius Church. On the flat, massive ceiling of the church he painted a fresco, in
perspective, of the missionary spirit of Jesuit Society, thereby expressing Jesuit
identification with the baroque spirit of Rome. The beautiful ceiling celebrates two
centuries of adventuresome Jesuit explorers and missionaries. His theme is the
missionary spirit of the Society. Light comes from God the Father to the Son who
transmits it to St. Ignatius as it breaks into four rays leading to the four continents.
Asia is Upper Left, lower left is Africa, upper right is Europe, lower right is America.
Slide #6: East Asia
C: Map of East Asia
Even more slippery a term: Anyone know its source?
Jennifer Purtle Page 2 2/7/2014 Slide #7: East Asia
L: Map of East Asia
R: Photograph of Greater E. Asia Conference, Tokyo, 1943.
Ba Maw of Burma, Zhang Zhonghui of Manchuria, Wang Jingwei of the ROC, Tojo
Hideki of Japan, Wan Wathayakan of Thailand, Jose Paciano Laurel of Philippines, and
Rash Beharu Bose of India.
Slide #8: East Asia
L: Map of East Asia
R: Photograph of Rally for the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.
East Asia does not have the most auspicious beginning; yet also meaningful as a term
defined differently, with different intentions.
Slide #9 – East Asia
L: Map of East Asia
R: Maps of Networks that integrated East Asia in premodern times.
I would like to define East Asia as the entity that emerged over thousands of years of
trade, tribute, communication, overland and by sea, in the area we now call east Asia, all
of which made some use of Chinese as a language of shared communication – lingua
franca, lingua Sinica.
Not to say that Chinese culture is the dominant or superior culture; instead it is the shared
matrix of communication.
Teaching this course as a China specialist – my own awareness of how far I can go in
Asia using Chinese, both as modern traveler, and as historical researcher. Acceptance,
rejection, different patterns of diffusion – fluid, labile area of East Asia.
Slide #10 – Artistic Landscape
L: Guo Xi, Early Spring, 1072
R: Toronto Chinatown.
What is an artistic landscape? Is one or both of these images an artistic landscape?
Slide #11 – Artistic Landscape
L: Nara Skyline at dusk
R: Isozaki Arata’s Panasonic Globe Theater, Tokyo, 1988
What is an artistic landscape? Is one or both of these images an artistic landscape? Part of an
Jennifer Purtle Page 3 2/7/2014 Slide #12 – Artistic Landscape
L: Building in DMZ, Korea
R: Choson, b/w jar 2/2 15 cent.
What is an artistic landscape? Is one or both of these images an artistic landscape? Represent
an artistic landscape? Embody an artistic landscape?
Slide #13 – Artistic Landscape
L: Tomb of Khai Din, Hue, Vietnam, 1925
R: Cotemporary, traditional style Vietnamese lacquer
What is an artistic landscape? Is one or both of these images an artistic landscape? Connected
to an artistic landscape?
Slide #14 – Artistic Landscape
L: John Thompson, Street in Kowloon, ca. 1860
L: I.M. Pei, Bank of China Building, Hong Kong, 1982
What is an artistic landscape? How do one or both of these images represent an artistic
landscape? Comprise an artistic landscape?
pei had to grapple with 'feng shui' when he designed
the bank of china tower in hong kong in 1982. Pei notes:
[on fengshui], the term means 'wind and water' and 'it has its roots in the worship of the
forces of nature, which sometimes degenerated into a form of superstition. When you
design buildings in hong kong, you cannot get away from that problem. There are
specialists, feng shui masters, who advise people on all matters of things, especially on
the selection of a building site; placement of the building on the site; and the shape and
form of the building. I was aware of this, but did not take it seriously. As soon as we
made our design public, I was immediately attacked - just as fiercely as I was attacked for
the louvre, but for different reasons. for instance,...(the) building had too many sharp
corners (which would) bring bad luck to one's neighbours.' but the real challenge for pei
was architectural. the building was placed on a incredibly small and difficult site
surrounded by a heavily trafficked roadway...there was no possibility to make an
entrance...(so) I proposed to create a new road at the back of our site.
(but) the site had one important advantage. because it was located just out of the airport
flight path, the new building was not restricted by the height limit... a tall building would
permit us to overlook some of the most prestigious buildings in hong kong... the next
challenge was...how to make it structurally expressive.'
Jennifer Purtle Page 4 2/7/2014 Slide #15 – Artifact
Beginning to build a sense of East Asia, and of Cultural Landscape, turn to the topic of
today’s lecture: Artifact.
I propose today to look at artifact in 2 senses:
1) All objects that we will study in this course might be viewed as artifacts that,
when properly probed, can tell us about the people and cultures who made them.
Proposing an anthropological approach to the artistic landscape of East Asia.
Use this approach in the first half of this class to take you on a tour of the material
2) Chronological, civilizational origin of this course, in objects made long before
cultures, civilizations make artifacts long before they make art. Yet the two are linked
– almost every piece of art might be viewed as an artifact.
Some art historians would tell you that what differentiates man from other animals is
his making of art. But that is not quite true. In fact, we are the only animal that makes
art, but art is not the threshold of what differentiates us from other animals. Rather
that threshold is artifact.
Prominent British anthropologist Kenneth P. Oakley argued, in his seminal work,
Man the Toolmaker, man is a toolmaker. I thus suggests that artifact is what
differentiates man from other animals; artifact is this one – if not THE – material
basis of our humanity.
As the Oxford English Dictionary succinctly, if not tautologically explains: “Artefact:
n. Anything made by human art and workmanship; an artificial product. In Archæol.
applied to the rude products of aboriginal workmanship as distinguished from natural
It therefore behooves us to take artifacts seriously, carefully, attentively! The question is how?
[Look for yellow bracelet]
Slide #16 – Artifact
C: Livestrong bracelet
How to read as an artifact:
What is it and what does it mean? Materials? Primary meaning? Secondary meaning?
Tertiary or more? Associations with people? Places? Things?
Jennifer Purtle Page 5 2/7/2014 Slide #17 – Technology
L: Neolithic Pot, Yangshao Culture, Miaodigou phase 4m BCE
R: Early Shang Bronze, jue ritual vessel, Excav. Yanshi xian, Henan
How does technology change the stakes of making artifacts?
What different technologies are responsible for the making of these objects?
Shift, for example, from ceramic to bronze; technological interrelation of these objects.
Slide #18 – Technology
L: Chinese Bronze Drum, Yue type, from the Han Dynasty, 2c BCE – 2cCE
R: Vietnamese Bronze Drum, 5c BCE, Dong Son civilization
Diffusion of technology: Vietnamese drums > Thailand Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos.
Relation to Chinese metal casting unknown.
Transfer of secondary technology: musical
Slide #19 – Space
C: Tomb of Qinshihuangdi, 210 BCE
How do many artifacts, the production of which is aided by technology, create space?
Distribution of artifacts creates space!
[use volunteers/personal space idea]
Slide #20 – Space
Upper left: Qinshihuangdi;
Upper right, clay figurines, Easter Zhou (State of Qi), 4c BCE, Shandong;
Lower right: Pedestal and other vesels, found at Kurita, Middle Yayoi
period, ca. 100 BCE – 100 CE;
lower left, groups of kobae (stem cups), buried near Sungsan-dong, near
Koryong, 5-6c CE.
This strategy is not limited to the most exalted works; distribution of artifacts creates
Groups imply space between – social, human space. Think about personal space, body
space… Objects also project, demand space in this way, create space according to their
needs, allow humans to posit, imagine space other than as it normatively exists. Number
of different strategies for understanding how this works.
Jennifer Purtle Page 6 2/7/2014 Slide #21 -- Monument
L: Guardian animal (tianlu); Tomb of Emperor Wu of Southern Qi,
Danyang, Jiangsu, Southern Qi, circa 493 CE. 9’2” high.
R: Cave 20, Yungang, Datong, Shanxi, Northern Wei, ca, 460-480.
How to create impressive artifacts through size, scale, visibility rather than through position and
Slide #22 – Monument
L: Tomb of Emperor Nintoku? Check, Sakai, Osaka, late 4-early 5c CE
R: Ise Shrine, Mie prefecture
Why make such impressive artifacts? What purposes can they serve?
What can be done with such impressive artifatc, how to use impressive artifacts to recall,
commemorate, memorialize, as monument to: emperor; goddess Amaterasu.
Slide # 23 -- Metropolis
L: Chang’an plan
C; Daming palace birds’ eye view
R: Hanyuan hall façade.
What happens when large numbers of impressive artifacts – monuments – coexist in a small
space? When their attendant humans live in close proximity?
Slide #24 – Metropolis
Upper left: Chang’an plan, begun 582
Lower left: Chang’an birds’ eye view
Lower right: Fujiwara-kyo (694-710), Nara.
Upper right: Shangjing (ca. 755-926), Bohai, Heilongjiang Chin