Pattern and Person: Ornament, Society, and Self in Classical China (Harvard East Asian Monographs)

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9780674021396: Pattern and Person: Ornament, Society, and Self in Classical China (Harvard East Asian Monographs)

In Classical China, crafted artifacts offered a material substrate for abstract thought as graphic paradigms for social relationships. Focusing on the fifth to second centuries B.C., Martin Powers explores how these paradigms continued to inform social thought long after the material substrate had been abandoned. In this detailed study, the author makes the claim that artifacts are never neutral: as a distinctive possession, each object—through the abstracting function of style—offers a material template for scales of value. Likewise, through style, pictorial forms can make claims about material "referents," the things depicted. By manipulating these scales and their referents, artifacts can shape the way status, social role, or identity is understood and enforced. The result is a kind of "spatial epistemology" within which the identities of persons are constructed. Powers thereby posits a relationship between art and society that operates at a level deeper than iconography, attributes, or social institutions.

Historically, Pattern and Person traces the evolution of personhood in China from a condition of hereditary status to one of achieved social role and greater personal choice. This latter development, essential for bureaucratic organization and individual achievement, challenges the conventional opposition between "Western" individuals and "collective" Asians.

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About the Author:

Martin J. Powers is Professor of Art History, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Review:

Original, sound, and stimulating...Scholars of classical Chinese value systems will be especially interested in Powers’ animadversions on such abstract notions as “Natural Order” (ziran: tzu-jan), “dialectics of agency” (wuwei: sic), and “Dao and Public Policy”...[Pattern and Person] is of broad interdisciplinary interest to scholars of Asian thought and religion and the cross-cultural study of civilizations.
--Russell Kirkland (Religious Studies Review 2007-07-01)

This book is an elegant and scholarly monograph...Powers, a distinguished art historian, has impeccable credentials in his field and is at his best when dealing directly with his data. These include both a comprehensive selection of classical texts and specific graphic motifs that appear on a variety of artifacts including vehicles, utensils, caskets, and personal furnishings...Powers’s arguments are sound, his scholarship excellent, and his examples persuasive...Pattern and Person is an excellent resource for all students of Chinese art history and premodern Chinese history in general, and should also serve as a valuable reader’s guide to the field of critical theory in art history.
--Eric Cunningham (The Historian 2008-06-01)

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Martin J. Powers
Editore: Harvard University Asia Center (2006)
ISBN 10: 0674021398 ISBN 13: 9780674021396
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Descrizione libro Harvard University Asia Center, 2006. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria DADAX0674021398

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