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Reproducing a Bodhisattva: Women’s Artistic Devotion in Late Imperial China
September 25, 2017 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Resident Fellow (2017-2018)
Art History, UW-Madison
What did lay Buddhist women actually do in order to forge a connection with the bodhisattva Guanyin after he underwent a sex-change and became a female deity during late imperial China? How did a shared gender identity between the worshipper and worshipped enable practitioners to establish a new type relationship through material practice? How are gendered skills connected to religious transformation? Why did laywomen use brush, human hair, jewelry and dance to reproduce the image of Guanyin and to embody of Guanyin in late imperial China? In my presentation, I will ask these questions to shed light on the intersections of gender, material practice and religion in late imperial China.
Yuhang Li is an assistant professor of Chinese art in the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Before joining the faculty at the UW-Madison in 2013, she was a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University and a Mellon Postdoc at the Grinnell College. She received a fellowship to be a research associate at the Women’s Studies in Religious Program at Harvard Divinity School during 2015-16. Her primary research interests cover a wide range subjects and mediums, including gender, material and visual practice in late imperial China. Her articles on hair embroidery Guanyin, Empress Dowager Cixi dressing up as Guanyin in paintings and photographs and other essays have been published recently. She is the co-editor of the exhibition catalog Performing Images: Opera in Chinese Visual Culture. Currently, she is finishing her book manuscript entitled Reproducing a Bodhisattva: Women’s Artistic Devotion in Late Imperial China.