Jade openwork egret finials: Their historical context and use in China and Korea

Kurokawa, Kumiko (2004) Jade openwork egret finials: Their historical context and use in China and Korea. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b2213596


This thesis is concerned with jade openwork egret finials currently mounted on incense burner covers in museum collections in China, the United States and the United Kingdom in order to investigate their historical context and their original usage before the late Ming Dynasty in China. Their function and dating have been debated since the 1980s by jade experts: on the one hand, they seem to be used as ornamental finials on incense burner covers (luding), as in the Qing Court Collection, and on the other as hat ornaments (maoding) on top of hats before the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368-1644). This controversy began following the discovering of the record by Shen Defu (AD 1578-1642), a writer of the late Ming Wanli period (AD 1573-1619), suggesting that jade finials on incense burner covers were originally used as hat finials in the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1279-1368) to indicate the wearer's rank and authority and that they were eventually adapted as finials of incense burner covers in the Ming Dynasty, owing to the difference in manners and customs to the previous dynasty of Mongol rule. The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate whether this theory can be confirmed in relation to jade openwork egret finials. This study seeks to contribute to an understanding of the association of specific officials and egret symbols, depicted in works of ail in various aspects and from an ornithological point of view throughout Chinese history. This examination of egret symbolism in an historical context will hopefully enable the purpose of these objects to be explained, and also the close relationship between use, motif, design and technique, all interrelated in jade craftsmanship. Included here will be a discussion of the historical context of wearing hat ornaments throughout Chinese history, taking into consideration the relationship between officials holding inspectorate, surveillance and supervisory responsibilities. This thesis continues to analyze the validity of identifying jade openwork finials as luding and the appropriateness for luding of their motifs and fundamental structure. It investigates the possibility of a changing usage based on the historical context of incense burners and the antiquarian culture of the late Ming literati. Finally, the hat finial culture and the foundations for its flourishing in Chos on Korea will be studied to explain its relationship to China, in an attempt to gain insight into the jade openwork egret finial in China by approaching it from a different angle. Jade openwork egret finials were worn by Korean officials in the Choson Dynasty (AD 1392-1910) as their hat finials, and were symbols of their integrity. The practice of wearing jade hat finials originated from the Mongol Yuan period. A wide range of knowledge, and conceptual tools drawn from every possible aspect of culture and arts in China and Korea have been used, in order to place jade openwork egret finials, into their proper historical context. This has been necessary because of insufficient documentary evidence and no conclusive archaeological excavations. Accordingly, the evidence drawn from Korea has enabled the author to offer a fresh perspective about the usage of the jade openwork egret finial in China.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Art history.
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Supervisor's Name: Pearce, Prof. Nicholas
Date of Award: 2004
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2004-70985
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 May 2019 14:28
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2021 14:05
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/70985

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