Ding Jing (1695–1765) and the foundation of the Xiling identity in Hangzhou
This dissertation undertakes an in-depth examination of the works of calligraphy, seal engraving, and paintings by a major cultural figure---Ding Jing and his associates and followers. More specifically, it scrutinizes the production and pattern of exchange of such artworks against the backdrop of the literati culture in Hangzhou, one of the major cities that dominated the cultural scene of mid-Qing China.
Chapter One examines the cultural environment of eighteenth-century Hangzhou and the biography of Ding Jing, utilizing both textual accounts and such artworks as The Life Portrait of Ding Jing that elucidate how the practice of artwork exchange signified friendships and the boundaries of Ding Jing's circle. Chapter Two reveals how Ding Jing's circle constructed their collective identity as cultural elites through participation in the Nanping Poetry Society in Hangzhou. The mapping of cultural and social spaces within Ding Jing's circle provides a clear context for the interpretation of various forms of social and artistic discourses. Chapter Three is an investigation of the interaction between the intellectual trends of evidential scholarship (kaozhengxue) and metal-and-stone epigraphy (jinshixue ) on the one hand and the calligraphic practices of Ding Jing's circle on the other. It examines how Ding Jing's circle actively cultivated in their calligraphy a strong sense of archaism in terms of style, aesthetics and literary content, and such archaism alludes to their erudition, their evidential scholarship and epigraphical studies. Chapter Four analyzes the parameters of styles, aesthetics and theories of Ding Jing's seal engraving, and the way the styles and verbal content of his seals constructed unique social and cultural discourses. Chapter Five traces the development of Ding's seal-engraving lineage in Hangzhou throughout a period of three generations by a systematic study of the works of his seven followers. To conclude, the selected artworks by Ding Jing, his associates and followers are analyzed as refined products shaped by an extremely special collective social and cultural experience that eventually constituted a regional identity.