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Style, Patronage, and Confucian Ideals in Han Dynasty Art: Problems in Interpretation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 March 2015

Michael Nylan*
Chinese Studies , Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899


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Copyright © Society for the Study of Early China 1993

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1. Powers artificially separates these tendencies, even though highly ornate pieces from Western Han were often “naturalistic” in their depiction of bulk and motion (e.g., the inlaid bronze chariot ornament from tomb M122, Ting county, Hopei, illustrated in Powers, p. 63). Powers reserves the terms “naturalistic” and “descriptive” for the depiction of human beings, but this is to confuse theme and style.

2. See his argument on pp. 188–193.

3. Powers apparently follows Chang Ping-lin (1868–1936), who argued that the Eastern Han “pure” Confucians represented local “public opinion.” Lien-sheng, Yang, “Great Families of Eastern Han,” in Chinese Social History: Translations of Selected Studies, ed. Sun, E-tu Zen and Francis, John De (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1956), 125 Google Scholar, calls this idea “far-fetched.”

4. See Powers’ statement on p. 195 that “‘orthodox’ Confucian scholars consistently sought to blur … a number of discriminations.” Powers stops just short of calling Han society “free and democratic” on p. 191; Eastern Han Confucians are described as “newly enfranchised” and “citizens” (p. 93), terms that imply that the Confucian elites somehow voted or had legally-defined “rights.” At the same time, Powers tends to attribute injustices and inequalities in the Han system to the “inefficiencies” of a premodern government (pp. 1–2). Contrast Min, Kao Ch'in Han shih lun-chi (Cheng-chou: Hsin-hua shu-tien, 1982), 188–212 Google Scholar, esp. p. 209.

5. Powers dates the first awareness of the advantages of public criticism to the time of the Salt and Iron Debates in 81 b.c. (see below); such ideas supposedly flowered only in the first century a.d., when “this notion had assumed cosmic proportions [in omen theory]” (p. 255). This is to ignore earlier theories, such as those of Shen Tao (b. ca. 360 b.c.). On his dating for omen theory, see n. 33 below.

6. Powers fails to mention the Eastern Han resurrection of the infamous “slander laws” designed to prevent officials from censuring imperial faults. Contrast Hsün Yüeh , Han chi (Kuo-hsüeh chi-pen ts'ung-shu ed.), 7.61, and Yüan Hung , Hou Han chi (Kuo-hsüeh chi-pen ts'ung-shu ed.), 12.153–54. Powers’ depiction of Kuang-wu as Confucian patron may also be overdrawn. Ssu-mien, , Ch'in Han shih (Hong Kong: T'ai-p'ing shu-tien, 1947), vol. 1, 248 Google Scholar, characterizes Kuang-wu instead as “especially strict in his supervision and punishment of literati officials.” Lü supplies numerous examples, including the savage caning of the recluse Ting Han , who refused Kuang-wu's appointment as “filially pious and incorrupt.”

7. Powers states, “After the middle of the 2nd century b.c., the empire made public office available to any literate man with competence in one or more of the Confucian classics” (p. 108), and, “There were no hereditary barriers” to advancement (p. 362). Contrast Yang Lien-sheng's assessment: “The two Han dynasties, especially Eastern Han, constituted a long gestation period for the rule of powerful families. … There was no intermarriage between them and the common people; between the two there was an unbridgeable social gap”; “Great Families of Eastern Han,” 103 (emphasis mine). Powers himself supplies evidence of heightened class consciousness in Eastern Han when he quotes a maxim of Emperor Ming, whom he portrays as an exemplary Confucian: “One should not let a beggar be chief minister” (quoted p. 172). In contrast, early Western Han thinkers attributed to Confucius the idea that a man worthy to be king is willing to appoint even slaves as ministers. See, e.g., Ch'ien, su-ma , Shih chi (Beijing: Chung-hua shu-chü, 1959), 47 Google Scholar.1910.

8. See Powers, Martin J., “Hybrid Omens and Public Issues in Early Imperial China,” Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities 55 (1983), 8 Google Scholar. Parts of Powers’ hypothesis appear (far more carefully phrased) in this article and in his “Social Values and Aesthetic Choices in Han Dynasty Sichuan,” in Stories from China's Past: Han Dynasty Pictorial Tomb Reliefs and Archaeolocial Objects from Sichuan Province (San Francisco: Chinese Culture Foundation, 1987), 54–63 Google Scholar. The latter work posits certain similarities between Szechwan and “Shantung” art, although Szechwan art is seen as more explicitly “passionate.”

9. The failure to supply nuanced portraits is especially evident when Powers turns to Han eunuchs. All appear as uniformly evil, grasping, or unsophisticated, despite evidence to the contrary. For example, the interest that certain palace eunuchs showed in the “bird script” is traced to their depraved love of ornamentation (p. 369), though Confucian masters like Yang Hsiung (53 b.c.a.d. 18) were avid students of the same decorative script form, which was reportedly invented by Kings Wen and Wu , two Confucian paragons. See Ku, Pan , Han shu (Beijing: Chung-hua shu-chü, 1962), 30. 1721–1722 Google Scholar. For information on “worthy” eunuchs, see Yi, Chao , Erh-shih-erh shih cha-chi (Rpt., Taipei: Shih-chieh shu-chü, 1971), 3. 41–42 Google Scholar.

10. One sign of gradual reinfeudation is supplied by Powers himself: In Eastern Han, the separation between the state treasury and the emperor's personal funds was gradually abandoned. But Powers believes that members of the literati would have opposed such trends; therefore, he rationalizes evidence to the contrary (p. 368) as “clearly a rhetorical ploy.”

11. See Minao, Hayashi , Gokan jidai no shaba gyōretsu ,” Tōhō gakuhō 37 (1966), 183–226 Google Scholar.

12. Hung, Wu, The Wu Liang Shrine: The Ideology of Early Chinese Pictorial Art (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989)Google Scholar.

13. Bray, Francesca, “The Agricultural Revolution in China,” Science and Civilisation in China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984)Google Scholar, vol. VI, section 41, 596; cf. Ch'i-yün, Ch'en, “Han Dynasty China: Economy, Society, and State Power: A Review Article,” T'oung pao 70 (1984), 127–148 Google Scholar. The low rate of taxation on farm produce (throughout Eastern Han, 1/30 of the crop) as compared with the high rate of taxation on mercantile profit (typically 9 1/2 %) was also a factor in the decision by the rich to concentrate their holdings in the safer investment of land. Low rates for land taxes principally benefitted the large landowner. See The Cambridge History of China, vol. I, ed. Twitchett, Denis and Loewe, Michael (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 598 CrossRefGoogle Scholar,619; Bielenstein, Hans, “Restoration of the Han Dynasty, Vol. IV,” Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities 51 (1979), 127 Google Scholar.

14. Several reasons may be given for this concentration of land into the hands of the few. Smallholders were too poor to take full advantage of advances in agricultural technology; at the same time, their small scale of production and slim margin of profit prevented them from taking the risks associated with the market. In contrast, large landowners were ideally situated to play the market and to benefit from new technology. Most importantly, the Eastern Han government, in a real departure from Western Han policy, lacked the will to limit the size of large landholdings. See Bray, “The Agricultural Revolution,” 587–97; Fu-chih, Han, Liang Han ti ching-chi ssu-hsiang (Taipei: Chung-kuo hsüeh-shuo chu-tso chiang-chu wei-yüan-hui, 1969), 148 Google Scholar; and Lao Kan , “Chan-kuo Ch'in Han ti t'u-ti wen-t'i chi-ch'i tui-ts'e” , Ta-lu tsa-chih shih-hsüeh ts'ung-shu , 1.4, 1–4.

15. Loewe, Michael, Everyday Life in Early Imperial China (New York: Dorset Press, 1968)Google Scholar, 166. Cf. Yeh, Fan , Hou Han shu (Beijing: Chung-hua shu-chü, 1965), 49. 1651 Google Scholar; Cambridge History, vol. I,641.

16. See Crespigny, Rafe de, “The Recruitment System of the Imperial Bureaucracy of Later Han,” Chung Chi Journal 6 (Nov., 1966), 67–78 Google Scholar; and Bielenstein, Hans, The Bureaucracy of Han Times (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), ch. 6CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

17. Contemporary evidence presents a picture of factional politics that is remarkably consistent for the entire Eastern Han period, although corruption and nepotism probably worsened from the reigns of Emperors Ho and An; Han Fu-chih, Liang-Han ti ching-chi ssu-hsiang, 158; see also, Bielenstein, “Restoration,” Vol. IV, 72–127; Ying Shao , Han kuan yi (Ssu-pu pei-yao éd.), lA.4a–4b; Hou Han shu, 32.1126, 63.2078, 61.2037, and 56.1826. Edicts condemned such corruption, as in the years a.d. 57, 76, and 93 (Hou Han shu 2.96, 3.133, 4.176). Lao Kan writes, “Western Han Confucian scholars mostly came from poor families, … but when it came to Eastern Han it was different. … Increasingly in the Latter Han period, the selection and recommendation of each locality's eminent officials and Filially Pious and Incorrupt [candidates] was undertaken by a few families in collusion with one another …”; Lao Kan, “Chan-kuo Liang-Han t'u-ti wen-t'i,” 3. Eventually, such corruption was regularized in a.d. 220 through the instituion of the infamous “Nine-rank Arbiter System.” For details, see Ebrey, Patricia, The Aristocratic Families of Early Imperial China: A Case Study of the Po-ling Ts'ui Family (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 15–17 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

18. In a.d. 146, 148, and 156, additional provisions were made to reserve entry-level positions at court for the sons of officials. Powers also attributes the enlargement of the Imperial University (t'ai hsüeh ) under the Eastern Han to increasing dedication to “meritocratic” Confucian values. The classicist P'i Hsi-jui came to a very different conclusion in Ching-hsüeh li-shih (Rpt., Beijing: Chung-hua shu-chü, 1959), ch. 4, esp. pp. 113–114 Google Scholar. Cf. Kung-ch'üan, Hsiao, A History of Chinese Political Thought, trans, by Mote, F. W. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), 473 Google Scholar, which disputes the vitality of Eastern Han Confucianism.

19. Hou Han shu, 7.288. Note that Wang Hsien-ch'ien , Hou Han shu chi-chieh (Kuo-hsüeh chi-pen ts'ung-shu ed.), 7.276, sees no problem with this passage; note also that this edict is dated to a.d. 146, only fourteen years after the reform of the recommendation system under Emperor Shun. For young appointees, see, e.g., Hou Han shu 32.1122, 63.2080–2081.

20. See, e.g., Hou Han shu 41.1398, 54.1769–1771. Many of those whom Powers identifies as “middle-income” Confucians were either members or clients of the Eastern Han landed gentry, for in Eastern Han “the literati families were [typically] the official families as well as the landholding families” (Lao Kan, “Chan-kuo Liang-Han t'u-ti wen-ti,” 3). Chung-ch'ang T'ung (ca. 180–220) described the gentry households in the following terms: “The rich fields extend across the land. Their slaves are counted by the thousands; their dependents, by the tens of thousands …” (cited in Hou Han shu 49.1648).

21. Hou Han shu 79A.2557, 26.905. For the problematic term “students,” see Yang Lien-sheng, “Great Families of Eastern Han,” 117–118; and Ebrey, Patricia, “Patronclient Relations in the Later Han,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 103.3 (1983), especially pp. 535–536 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

22. Powers believes that the slogan “employ the worthy” originated “as early as the late second centuiy b.c.” (p. 14). The slogan goes back at least to Mo tzu (ca. 480–ca. 390 b.c.), and was later taken up by Hsün tzu (fl. 264–238 b.c.).

Regarding calls for frugality, Powers believes that it was Han Confucians who invented and consistently expanded arguments against conspicuous consumption, though the call to “lessen desires” ultimately goes back to the pre-Han Taoists, as Han scholars readily acknowledged. See, for example, Yang Hsiung , Fa yen (Chu-tzu chi-ch'eng ed.), 4.12. Throughout Han, an “undue” emphasis on frugality was considered unorthodox, since such an emphasis was thought to undercut the dignity and authority of the ruling class. See, for example, Shao, Ying , Feng su t'ung yi chiao chu , annotated by Li-ch'i, Wang (Beijing: Chung-hua shu-chü, 1981), 2.39ffGoogle Scholar. The elaborate rituals of the Confucians (especially lavish burials) continued in Eastern Han, since most people considered them to be “virtuous,” as Powers shows on p. 136. For more information, consult T'ien-lin's, Hsü Hsi-Han hui-yao (Rpt., Taipei: Shih-chieh shu-chü, 1972), 17.158–160 Google Scholar; and Tung-Han hui-yao (Rpt.; Taipei: Shih-chieh shu-chü, 1971), 29.315–317, 30.325–327Google Scholar. Powers implies that Confucian statesmen were anxious to curtail expenditure for the sake of common people; often they wanted the state to devote more of its resources to projects that would benefit their own class, including the expansion of the Imperial Academy (Cambridge History, vol. I, 203). Perhaps the most useful overview of Han Confucianism as it relates to classicism is that by van Ess, Hans, “Politik und Gelehrsamke in der Zeit der Han” (Ph.D. dissertation: University of Hamburg, 1991)Google Scholar.

23. Powers touches upon few Eastern Han thinkers; he also neglects possible Buddhist and Taoist influences on art, though he shows his “Confucian” scholars’ propensity to cite the Buddha and Lao tzu (p. 366). Missing from his account is any reference to the Eastern Han preoccupation with moral ambiguity, compromise, or even contradiction, as reflected in works like Hsü Shen's Wu ching yi yi and Ying Shao's Feng su t'ung yi. In the absence of philosophical context, Powers cannot meaningfully relate the Wu family's interest in Modern Text (chin wen ) studies to their artistic preferences. Both Wu Hung and Powers refer to the Wu family's scholastic affiliation, but neither seems to know what, if anything, to make of it.

24. On the debate, see Ch'en, “Han Dynasty China: Economy, Society, and State Power,” 138; Bray, “The Agricultural Revolution,” 592ff.; Cambridge History, vol. I, 605. For Han, Eastern, Chien, Wang , “Tung-Han yen-t'ieh-yeh chu wen-t'i k'ao-pien” , Hsü-chou shih-fan hsüeh-yüan hsüeh-pao 55.3 (1988), 121–123 Google Scholar, shows that officials regarded such monopolies as “benefitting the people.”

25. Even non-conformist thinkers like Wang Fu (?90–?165) and Ts'ui Shih (fl. 126–68) did everything but propose a limitation on landholdings in Eastern Han. For a synopsis of their views, see Han Fu-chih, Liang-Han ti ching-chi ssu-hsiang, 156ff.

26. See, e.g., Feng su t'ung yi, 2.93 ff.

27. As we know from recent American politics, calls for “frugality,” “self-restraint,” and “old-fashioned values” do not inevitably coincide with greater egalitarianism or “liberal” values.

28. For example, Powers states that the “rhetorical use of Yin and Yang” can be be traced to the reign of Wang Mang but came to maturity under Emperor Kuang-wu (p. 254). It is unclear what this means, as Yin-Yang theory may be traced back to ca. 500 b.c. See Chieh-kang, Ku , “Wu te chung-shih shuo hsia ti cheng-chih ho li-shih” , Ch'ing-hua hsüeh-pao 6.1 (May, 1930), 71–268 Google Scholar; and Han-san, Li , Hsien-Ch'in Liang-Han chih yin-yang wu-hsing hsüeh-shuo (Taipei: Chung-ting wen-hua, 1981)Google Scholar. Similarly, Powers states that it was only “recluses of early Latter Han [who] established a precedent that enabled [Confucian] scholars of the second century to speak their minds” (pp. 221–222). Early in Western Han, recluses spoke out about such controversial matters as the imperial succession. See Shih chi, 55.2046–2047; Han shu 18.677. Also, many “orthodox” Confucians in Eastern Han opposed the influence of recluses. See, e.g., Feng su t'ung yi, 3.160–161; and Hou Han shu, 56.1826.

29. For this period, see Fu-kuan, Hsü , “Han-tai chuan-chih cheng-chih hsia ti feng-chien wen-ti” , Ta-lu tsa-chih 38.7 (1969), 11–24, especially pp. 15,18Google Scholar.

30. Regardless of Emperor Wu's initial motives for sponsoring Confucian scholarship, by the time of Emperor Yüan four chancellors in succession were appointed to the highest bureaucratic office in the imperium primarily because of their fame as Confucian teachers. It was not long before almost everyone in government, regardless of persona] beliefs, framed their policy suggestions in the language of Confucianism. According to prominent Han Confucians like Liu Hsin and Pan Ku, this contributed to a real dilution of Confucian conviction.

31. Bray, “The Agricultural Revolution,” 592. Compare Ch'en, “Han Dynasty China: Economy, Society, and State Power,” 138ff.; and Cambridge History, vol. I,557. For corroborative evidence, see Han shu 24A.1142 (Swann, 201ff.), and 24B.1176 (Swann, 322). For Confucian trends, see Hsiao, A History of Chinese Political Thought, 472–473.

32. See Yang, “Great Families of Eastern Han,” 108, for the characterization of the early Eastern Han emperors as “ambivalent.” Though Kuang-wu held that “proper administration lies in suppressing the strong and supporting the weak,” he quickly abandoned all attempts to survey land for tax purposes after fierce protests by local elites in a.d. 40. See Han Fu-chih, Liang-Han ti ching-chi ssu-hsiang, 156ff. No population transfers of the great families were attempted. Moreover, few attempts were made by the Eastern emperors to improve peasant agriculture by providing the necessary technical assistance and physical infrastructure, as had been done in Ch'in and Western Han.

33. For the aborted reforms of the Confucian classicist Huan T'an (43 b.c.a.d. 28, designed to prevent a single household from engaging in “two businesses,” see Hou Han shu, 28A.958; Cambridge History of China, 615; and Hai-chi, Fei, “Hou Han tung tu sheng huo,” Ta lu tsa chih 25.9 (1962), 12–15 Google Scholar.

34. Pan Piao's “On the Destiny of Kings,” for example, emphasized the role of heredity, rather than individual merit, in acquiring charismatic authority. Ying Shao's Feng su t'ung yi made frequent comparisons between contemporary conditions and those of the Chou feudal state. For the presumption of family loyalty, see Feng su t'ung yi, ch. 2–4.

35. This paragraph closely mirrors Cambridge History, vol. I, 559, 628; Ch'en, “Han Dynasty China: Economy, Society, and State Power,” 148; and Han Fu-chih, Liang-Han ti ching-chi ssu-hsiang, 147–168. For the decline in registered arable land under Han, see Cambridge History, vol. I, 597 Table 16.

36. Cambridge History, I, 631–637.

37. This in turn ties in very well with Powers’ interesting characterization of Shantung classicism as an art that “suppressed traditional signs of luxury” (i.e., the style of “imperium”), while it “surreptitiously hinted at financial strength” (p. 70). For an account corroborating this view of Han Confucianism, see Cheng, Anne, Étude sur le Confucianisme Han: L'élaboration d'une tradition exégétique sur les Classiques (Paris: Institut des Hautes Études Chinoises, 1985), ch. 3Google Scholar.

38. For the virtual identity between the terms “east of the mountains” and “east of the [Han-ku] passes,” see Serruys, Paul L-M., The Chinese Dialects of Han Times According to Fang yen (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959), 80–81 Google Scholar; and Lao Kan, “Population and Geography in the Two Han Dynasties,” in Chinese Social History, 87. Le-ch'eng, Fu , “Han-tai ti ‘Shan-tung’ yü ‘Shan-hsi’” , Shih-huo yüeh-k'an fu-k'an 6.9 (1976), 1–8 Google Scholar, shows that “east of the passes” included the area of present-day Hopei, Honan, Shantung, Shansi, Kiangsu, Anhwei, Hunan, and Hupei. The limits of this area, it should be noted, were poorly defined on its eastern side, though not on the west (Serruys, The Chinese Dialects of Han Times, 182).

39. Powers cannot therefore determine the crucial question whether Shantung scholar-officials (his art patrons) were rich or poor. Contrast p. 74 and p. 85.

40. Bielenstein, Hans, “The Census of China during the Period 2–742 a.d.,” Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities 19 (1947), 135 Google Scholar, shows that population density in Han times still “reflected the patterns of the old feudal states, although great changes must have taken place since then.” See also Serruys, The Chinese Dialects of Han Times, 226. Powers’ hypothesis strains to account for all the variation in artistic styles within his Shantung region. However, it is perfectly possible that contiguous regions were not members of the same cultural horizon, as Serruys shows in his classic study of Han dialect materials (p. 175).

41. Centuries before, at the beginning of Western Han, Lu had been indisputably the center for Confucian learning. See Han shu 88.3592, and 62.2714. For a partial listing of Western Han masters from Lu, see Han shu 88.3593, 3603, 3604, 3617. Evidently, there was sufficient wealth to support education and ritual in this area in early Western Han times. The relative wealth of the Shantung peninsula in early Western Han times is suggested by the forced transfers of its prominent clans to the capital under Kao tsu. See Han shu 1B.66.

42. For further information, see Bielenstein, “Restoration,” vol. I, 141–161; and Bielenstein, “Census,” especially pp. 125–145.

43. Economic information is scanty for Eastern Han since the official dynastic history does not include (as that for Western Han does) a “Treatise on Food and Money.” However, archaeological evidence and contemporary literary accounts reveal a major shift of economic wealth before the Eastern Han period to the so-called “Ho-nei” area and to the southern section of the Yellow River valley. See Chi, Ch'ao-ting, Key Economic Areas in Chinese History (London: Allen and Unwin, 1936), 92 Google Scholar; cf. Han shu 5.222. Powers claims that salt, iron, and lacquer industries were all located in Shantung (p. 74). Iron monopoly offices were indeed located in this area (see Hou Han shu, 20.3429), but most iron foundries were located in the area of present-day Honan province. See Hsin Chung-kuo ti k'ao-ku fa-hsien ho yen-chiu (Beijing: Wen-wu, 1984), 464 Google Scholar. The salt industry, contrary to Powers’ assertion, was located on the seacoast, far from this area of focus. The major center of the lacquer industry was located in the Yangtze and Huai River valleys (ibid., p. 475), the most famous government monopoly offices, in Shu and Kuang-han commanderies (ibid., p. 476).

44. For the geographic distribution of famous scholars in Western and Eastern Han, consult Kuo-wei, Wang , Han Wei po-shih t'i-ming k'ao (Rpt.; Taipei: Commercial Press, 1974)Google Scholar; Mu, Ch'ien , Liang-Han po-shih chia-fa k'ao (Rpt.; Taipei: Commercial Press, 1973)Google Scholar; and Bielenstein, “Restoration,” vol. IV, Map 1.

45. Chang Chien , post inspector of Shan-yang commandery, was one of the few “pure” Confucian officials associated with Powers’ area of focus (by post, not by birth). See Hou Han shu, 67.2197.

46. Powers himself occasionally seems to share these ideas. For example, he says at one point that the descriptive tradition simply corresponds to the expensive version of the scholar-official tombs (p. 289). Immediately afterwards, though, he insists that the “classical” and “descriptive” tombs are representative of two “fundamental differences in attitude” (also, p. 289). There is no doubt that artists themselves preferred to produce elaborate engravings, since such artworks commanded a much higher price. See Fu, Wang, Ch'ienfu lun (Rpt.; Shanghai: Ku-chi ch'u-pan-she, 1978), 2.18Google Scholar.

Note that the Powers’ summary of “changes” in tomb art (p. 108) may well be too simplistic. For example, Powers finds it significant that fewer bronze and lacquer vessels are found in Eastern Han tombs. However, he neglects to mention counter-indications, such as (1) the corresponding increase in the number of bronze mirrors and lamps ( Chih, Ch'en , Liang-Han ching-chi shih lun-ts'ung [Sian: Shensi jen-min ch'u-pan-she, 1958], 134 Google Scholar); (2) the theory that Eastern Han mortuary art tended to replace lacquer vessels with ceramic vessels because the brick tombs favored in Eastern Han were more susceptible to water damage (see Hsin Chung-kuo ti k'ao-ku, 477); or (3) the steady increase in size and structural complexity for officials’ tombs, as shown in Lo-yang Shao-kou Han mu (Beijing: K'ao-ku yen-chiu-yüan, 1959)Google Scholar. Perhaps it is a case of comparing apples (aristocratic tombs in Western Han) with oranges (the tombs of ordinary officials in Eastern Han). Finally, Powers’ theory that changes in tomb structure and in the location of certain ceremonial activities demonstrate a shift in focus from the lineage to the immediate family (p. 108) is not unequivocally supported by literary materials. The classic works on family structure in Han are Mitsuo, Moriya , Kandai kazoku no keitai ni kansuru kōsatsu (Kyoto: Dōshisha daigaku, 1956)Google Scholar, and Kiyoyoshi, Utsunomiya , Kandai shakai keizai shi kenkyū (Tokyo: Kōbundō, 1955), 405–523 Google Scholar.

47. See Wei-t'ai, Li , Liang-Han Shang-shu-hsüeh chi ch'i tui tang-shih cheng-chih ti ying-hsiang (Taipei: Kuo-li Taiwan ta-hsüeh wen-hsüeh-yüan, 1976), 40 Google Scholar.

48. For the popular story of the Earl, see Ch'ung, Wang , Lun heng chi-chieh , ed. P'an-sui, Liu (Rpt.; Taipei: Shih-chieh shu-chü, 1967), vol. I, 22.65 (p. 455) (Forke, vol. I, 247)Google Scholar.

49. For the linguistic conservatism of this area, see Serruys, The Chinese Dialects of Han Times, 97, 226, 235. According to Serruys, Lu, Sung, Weih , and Wei represented a “zone of resistance” to dialect influences from the west. I suggest superimposing a dialect map of the region on a map of known “archaic” tombs.

50. For instance, undecorated steamers found in the Ch'un Ch'iu period show clear affinities with much earlier examples from the Lung-shan culture. See Hsüeh-hai, Chang , “Kuan-yü Ch'i, Lu wen-hua ti chi-ke wen-t'i” K'ao-ku-hsüeh wen-hua lun-chi , ed. Ping-ch'i, Su (Beijing: Wen-wu, 1989), vol. 2, 187 Google Scholar. Chang claims that the culture of Lu was far more distinctive than the culture of Ch'u (p. 134). One of the best archaeological reports on the Lu area is Ch'ü-fu Lu-kuo ku-ch'eng (Chi-nan: Ch'i-lu shu-she, 1982)Google Scholar.

51. The Sung area was identified as the original home of the Shang rulers, who supposedly preferred the simple (i.e., unadorned). In the Chan-kuo period, natives of Sung were identified as rustic simpletons. For more information, see Chang Hsüeh- hai, “Ch'i Lu wen-hua,” 187–88.

52. This area had few natural resources, other than hemp, mulberry, and iron. Therefore, the people “were frugal and parsimonious.” Shih chi 129.3270 (Swann, 447), says, “The land was small and the population was crowded, and the people often suffered the disasters of flood and drought. They were [therefore] inclined to save and store [for the future].” Cf. Han shu 91.3691 (Swann, 454–55), 91.2686 (Swann, 433); Shih chi 129.3266 (Swann, 443). A convenient chart in Keng-wang, Yen , Chung-kuo ti-fang hsing-cheng chih tu-shih (Taipei: Academica Sinica, 1961), vol. I, 214ff.Google Scholar, shows the main resources for each Han commandery at a glance.

53. For example, Powers argues that one indication of the artistic “sophistication” of Shantung classicism is its conscious abandonment of the “obvious sophistication” of earlier times (p. 141). The line between obvious and subtle sophistication needs to be clearly drawn by Powers if this characterization is to elucidate. Unfortunately, Powers is quite inconsistent. For example, he characterizes as “most sophisticated” the tombs decorated in the “descriptive [or ‘naturalistic'] tradition” associated with court favorites (p. 322) and the “high quality of engraving” associated with eunuchs (p. 360).

54. Note Power's curious argument that art commissioned by scholars was intrinsically more complex in its associations than art intended for other audiences (p. 66). Powers also asserts that art in Han times cannot be characterized as “provincial” for the simple reason that government officials were frequently transferred (pp. 25–27).

55. Powers contends that Han scholars felt no “hint of Plato's anxiety that [artistic] representation might fall short of the ‘real thing’” (p. 61), though Han thinkers addressed that issue with fair regularity. For example, Yang Hsiung's T'ai hsüan ching (tetragram 57) distinguishes a representation of a dog from a real watchdog. Three recent publications have gathered many of the relevant texts on early art theory: Ch'ang-fung, Shih , Hsien-Ch'in chu-tzu mei-hsüeh ssu-hsiang shu-p'ing (Beijing: Chung-hua shu-chü, 1979)Google Scholar; Ch'ang-tung, Shih, Han-tai mei-hsüeh ssu-hsiang shu-p'ing (Beijing: Chung-hua shu-chü, 1981)Google Scholar; and Hsien-Ch'in Liang-Han mei-hsüeh ming-yen ming-p'ien hsüan-tu , ed. Min, and T'ung-hai, Sun (Beijing: Chung-hua shu-chü, 1987)Google Scholar.

56. This idea is interesting, but I can find no support for it in the Warring States and Han texts on politics and art.

57. According to Powers, early Eastern Han emperors would have promoted local art as a way of securing the support they needed from local landowners (p. 71). This is speculation, for no Eastern Han imperial tombs have been opened yet. He also states that the founder of the Eastern Han dynasty gained the support of the big clans and local gentry primarily because he “embraced Confucianism” (p. 159). It is difficult to see what alternative ideologies were then available to legitimize his rule. Historians will remember that local elites had opposed Wang Mang's reforms, though most of them were firmly rooted in Confucian and in Han tradition. See Bielenstein, Hans, “Pan Ku's Accusations against Wang Mang,” in Chinese Ideas about Nature and Society, Studies in Honour of Derk Bodde, ed. Blanc, Charles le and Blader, Susan (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1987), 265–270 Google Scholar. It is likely that local gentry supported the “restoration” of the Eastern Han clan because its founder, Liu Hsiu , was a wealthy landowner of their own sort. See Han Fu-chih, Liang-Han ti ching-chi ssu-hsiang, ch. 5.

58. For examples, see Son of Heaven, ed. Thorp, Robert L. (Seattle: Son of Heaven Press, 1988), 118, 122, 123Google Scholar.

59. See, e.g., Powers’ talk of “the cars, the gambling, the women” (p. 338) and “the idle rich” (p. 382).

60. See Powers, Martin J., “The Shapes of Power in Han Pictorial Art” (Ph.D. dissertation: University of Chicago, 1978)Google Scholar.

61. For example, I fail to understand why two “meeting” scenes (Confucius meeting with Lao tzu, and with the boy Hsiang Tuo ) can only “concern the legitimization of participation of scholars” in the political process. Both stories could equally illustrate the superiority of reclusion and “inner purity” over dangerous public service. Also, the story of Chao Wu could illustrate the link between revenge and filial piety, a popular theme in Easter Han, rather than refer to the murder by Liang Chi of Li Ku in a.d. 147.