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Of Body and Brush: Grand Sacrifice as Text/Performance in Eighteenth-Century China
by Angela Zito
University of Chicago Press, 1997
Paper: 978-0-226-98729-3 | Cloth: 978-0-226-98728-6
Library of Congress Classification DS754.17.Z58 1997
Dewey Decimal Classification 951.032

The Qianlong emperor, who dominated the religious and political life of eighteenth-century China, was in turn dominated by elaborate ritual prescriptions. These texts determined what he wore and ate, how he moved, and above all how he performed the yearly Grand Sacrifices. In Of Body and Brush, Angela Zito offers a stunningly original analysis of the way ritualizing power was produced jointly by the throne and the official literati who dictated these prescriptions.

Forging a critical cultural historical method that challenges traditional categories of Chinese studies, Zito shows for the first time that in their performance, the ritual texts embodied, literally, the metaphysics upon which imperial power rested. By combining rule through the brush (the production of ritual texts) with rule through the body (mandated performance), the throne both exhibited its power and attempted to control resistance to it. Bridging Chinese history, anthropology, religion, and performance and cultural studies, Zito brings an important new perspective to the human sciences in general.

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