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LUCIP lecture by Fan Lin and Doreen Müller: Evoking Zhuangzi’s Butterfly Dream

Tuesday 28 March 2023
Centre for Intercultural Philosophy events 2023
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

The Leiden University Centre for Intercultural Philosophy is pleased to announce a lecture by

Fan Lin, University Lecturer Chinese Art and Material Culture
Doreen Müller, Lecturer Japanese Art and Material Culture

Image credit: Chōbunsai Eishi, Parody of Zhuangzi's Dream of Butterflies. The British Museum, London

Evoking Zhuangzi’s Butterfly Dream: The Fashioning of Literati and Eccentric Subjectivities in Early Modern Chinese and Japanese Paintings


This presentation considers the afterlives of Zhuangzi’s dream of butterflies in the artworks of literati and eccentric painters in early modern China and Japan. Instead of taking them as visual explanations of Zhuangzi’s philosophical thoughts, we examine them from a visual culture perspective as coveted emotional tokens of a literati life style. As the paintings by Lu Zhi (1496-1576), Shen Zhou (1427-1509), Hokusai (1760-1849), and Chōbunsai Eishi (1756-1859) show, Zhuangzi in dreaming came to be an allegory for the painters to express the joy of a temporary escape from the normative social reality. Through her poetry, calligraphy, painting, and pottery, the Buddhist nun Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875) transformed herself into the philosopher, transcending worldly concerns and normative gender roles.

All are welcome!

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