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Radical Change and Cultural Continuity – The Rocks Connoisseurship of Northern Song and the Writing of the Former Dynasty by Yuan Literati

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Dr. Oliver H. M. Chan

BA (Hons), MPhil (HKBU); MA, PhD (SOAS, London).

Associate Head & Assistant Professor, Department of Chinese Language and Literature

Funding:

  • GRF.  $402,984.

Introduction

  • In the Yuan Dynasty (1276-1368) there was much literary and cultural discourse on the “objects from the Song dynasty (960-1279)”. Such discourse provides critical perspectives on the Yuan reception of Song literati culture and evaluation of cultural change. After the Yuan invaded and took over the Song court, Song wu became a symbol for Yuan literati to indulge in reminiscence of the Song and defiance against the Mongol political hegemony. Song wu represent the continuum of the value system in the cultural past, deriving their value from the lives of their owners and collectors, the anecdotes they embody, and the historical and socio-cultural meaning they possess. Amongst the varieties of Song wu, this project will focus on rocks, which have been regarded as a unique literati culture of the Northern Song Dynasty. The voluminous pieces of Yuan literature on rocks from Northern Song allow us to assess their collective memory and sensibility towards the cultural change amongst Han and non-Han literati in the South and North. This project intends to make a thorough and systemic study of relevant and available material to investigate the nature and varied responses to the major cultural change.