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Author(s): Liu, Chao-Hui Jenny

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Abstract: The thesis examines the art and epitaphs of five princess tombs of the Chinese medieval Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) against the background of the historical period and ritual concepts. The thesis discovers that the tomb of a princess did not depict her former life but that its scale, epitaph, and art reflected the status that the tomb builders planned for the deceased, the current political situation, and contemporary concepts of death and burial. Ritual is the grammar with which image and text built their representation of the princess’s last abode. The first chapter provides a survey of the field, theoretical perspective and research methodology, and a broad narrative account of the five tombs using archaeological reports and firsthand fieldwork observation. Chapter Two explores the historical background of the sixty-four year period (643-706 A.D.) in which these tombs were built, the conflicts over the extent of princess influence and prestige and the relationship between status and representation. Chapter Three uses ritual texts to reconstruct the possible structure of the transition of the princesses from life to death and the codification of their commemoration, beginning from the living household of the princess and ending at the tomb, her new abode-in-death. The preparations and the burial itself could take anywhere from one to seven months. I argue that these ritual actions and concepts created a space in which the classic stages of rites of passage—separation, liminality, and re-incorporation—occur. Chapter Four shows how princess identities were codified at death by epitaphs which followed a ritually prescribed plan in describing the princesses’ lives. Chapter Five discusses how murals, pottery figurines, and the line engravings on stone together contribute to a coherent program depicting the entry and settlement of the deceased into her new home.
Publication Date: Apr-2005
Citation: Liu, Chao-Hui Jenny. "Ritual Concepts and Political Factors in the Making of Tang Dynasty Princess Tombs (643-706 A.D.)." School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, April 2005, p. 353.
Pages: 1 - 353
Type of Material: Thesis
Version: Author's manuscript
Notes: A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

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