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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


Looking Around with Pride Looking Up at the Sky and Shouting: Shi Da-san’s Xing Ji Tu and Its Inscriptions

Vol. 40 No. 4   12/2010    


Looking Around with Pride Looking Up at the Sky and Shouting: Shi Da-san’s Xing Ji Tu and Its Inscriptions


Mao, Wen-fang









Key words

Shi Da-san 釋大汕, Xing Ji Tu 行跡圖, self-portrait, inscription, the mingling of Confucianism and Buddhism   


    Shi Da-san 釋大汕 (1637–1705) spent his youth in the Wu region and became a Zen monk. He befriended men in southern China who had been among the social elite of the previous dynasty, such as: Du Jun, Wu Wei-ye, Fang Wen, and Fan Yizhi. In his thirties, he directed the Longevity Monastery in Guangzhou, where he cultivated friendships with local celebrities, such as: Qu Da-jun, Chen Gong-yin, and Liang Pei-lan. Following the trend of portrait painting, Shi Da-san began a series of thirty-four self-portraits during the reign of Emperor Kang Xi. The collection these images, called Xing Ji Tu 行跡圖, provide a pictorial narration of his life. Each of the self-portraits has inscriptions from the educated elite or monks, as requested by Shi Da-san, and the inscriptions are collected in the first chapter of his book Li Liu Tang Ji 離六堂集. The self-portrait album is a rarity and a record of Shi Da-san's life from childhood to his middle age, a life embracing the mundane world and the pursuit of the religious world while befriending social elite. This paper explores the messages in the self-portraits of Xing Ji Tu and their inscriptions from the perspectives of Zen, the mingling of Confucianism and Buddhism, and the multifaceted life. The conclusion discusses the talent and defamation of Shi Da-san, categorizes the design and symbolic images in the self-portraits, and explores the intertextuality and sounds of the text. Shi Da-san's Xing Ji Tu is a classic example of multi-textual writing—portraits, inscriptions, and biography—which provides a glimpse into the culture of the early Qing Dynasty.



Author: Mao, Wen-fang
Genre: Article
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