December 6, 2019
8 color illus., 85 b&w illus., 2 maps, 2 tables
10.00 Inches (US)
7.00 Inches (US)
1.4 Pounds (US)
$65.00 USD, £52.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Eulogy for Burying a Crane and the Art of Chinese Calligraphy

Eulogy for Burying a Crane (Yi he ming) is perhaps the most eccentric piece in China's calligraphic canon. Apparently marking the burial of a crane, the large inscription, datable to 514 CE, was once carved into a cliff on Jiaoshan Island in the Yangzi River. Since the discovery of its ruins in the early eleventh century, it has fascinated generations of scholars and calligraphers and been enshrined as a calligraphic masterpiece. Nonetheless, skeptics have questioned the quality of the calligraphy and complained that its fragmentary state and worn characters make assessment of its artistic value impossible. Moreover, historians have trouble fitting it into the storyline of Chinese calligraphy. Such controversies illuminate moments of discontinuity in the history of the art form that complicate the mechanism of canon formation.

In this volume, Lei Xue examines previous epigraphic studies and recent archaeological finds to consider the origin of the work in the sixth century and then trace its history after the eleventh century. He suggests that formation of the canon of Chinese calligraphy over two millennia has been an ongoing process embedded in the sociopolitical realities of particular historical moments. This biography of the stone monument Eulogy for Burying a Crane reveals Chinese calligraphy to be a contested field of cultural and political forces that have constantly reconfigured the practice, theory, and historiography of this unique art form.

Art History Publication Initiative

A McLellan Book

About the Author

Lei Xue is associate professor of art history at Oregon State University.


"The Yiheming is undoubtedly a monument in Chinese calligraphy history and deserves a dedicated study. Xue's study will be of interest to historians of Chinese calligraphy and art, as well as scholars of Daoism, Chinese literature, and Chinese social and intellectual history."—Cary Y. Liu, Nancy and Peter Lee Curator of Asian Art, Princeton University Art Museum

"A solid study of the social life of a famous, enigmatic work of Chinese calligraphy, employing close stylistic analysis of its calligraphic brushwork and composition, philological analysis of the content of the text, deep readings of hidden political meanings in period literature, and a touch of historical imagination to form a unique and exciting interpretation of the original significance of the work. Xue's study is a welcome addition to the small body of monographs on Chinese calligraphy, since it not only treats one famous early work in detail, but also sketches the broad arc of later calligraphic and critical practice."—Amy McNair, professor of Chinese art, University of Kansas

"For great works of Chinese calligraphy, their transmission through the centuries is part and parcel of their fascination. Lei Xue shows this paradigmatically for a most enigmatic example."—Lothar Ledderose, author of Ten Thousand Things: Module and Mass Production in Chinese Art

"This book is a detailed study of an important artwork and an essential read for scholars interested in the history of Chinese calligraphy."—China Review International
University of Washington Press

9780295746364 : eulogy-for-burying-a-crane-and-the-art-of-chinese-calligraphy-xue
240 Pages
$65.00 USD

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