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Lecture

Manchu Roots: Imperial Politics, Image Discourse, and European Botanical Studies at the Qianlong Court

  • Lai Yu-chih
Date
18 April 2018
Time
Series
China Seminar
Address
University Library
Witte Singel 26-27
2311 BG Leiden
Room
Vossius room

Changbai Mountain was deemed by the Manchu rulers of the Qing as the birthplace for the ancestors of the dynasty and, therefore, a sacred mountain. The trees growing there were often connected with the fate of the Qing Empire. The Qianlong emperor himself composed at least two rhymes on two different auspicious trees growing there and related these two trees to the fate of his empire, one of which is the focus of this paper. For picturing and recording this tree, Qianlong ordered an expedition equipped with a professional court painter to be organized to investigate this tree firsthand. At least four sets of images were made after this expedition, within which actual specimens were also included. Therefore, this talk will take this series of images on this auspicious tree on the Manchu’s sacred mount as an example to explore why Qianlong insisted on the “first-hand” investigation of this actual tree? Why is this tree so important to Qianlong? What role did images play in dealing with the critical issues regarding the existence of the tree? Most importantly, how would this function, if any, of images affect the style and the making of them? 

This talk is sponsored by the Hulsewé-Wazniewski Foundation.

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