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By Yuehping Yen

This strange and fascinating ebook is an engaging account of the realm of chinese language writing. It examines chinese language area and the political and social use of writing as propaganda, a exposure booster and as a ladder for social hiking.

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Extra resources for Calligraphy and Power in Contemporary Chinese Society (Anthropology in Asia)

Sample text

The inscribed board of the Wondering Fairy’s Old Hall (Youxian Jiuguan) in Jindian Temple34 was written by an ordinary teacher of Confucian teaching. He was also nobody and no one knew anything about him. He went to the Daoist temple regularly and became friends with the Daoists there. That was why he wrote the four characters for them as a gesture of friendship. Later, some high officials went to the temple and saw the zi. They were very impressed. So he was asked to write more inscriptions for important buildings all over the country.

It may be able to offer some protection over your business to an extent. Dances with power 21 ‘But in reality, the real potency of the imperial sword is hard to judge’, he added. However, ‘Worshiping two gods is better than worshipping one because two of them might cover more celestial territory than one. When it comes to talismans (hushenfu), the more the better’, he reckoned. This applies to inscriptions by politically influential figures. As to those by famous calligraphers, he continued, ‘it is more likely to be a commercial gimmick to attract customers, since these calligraphers may not have the power or influence to provide the same type of protection’.

Set against this general backdrop, my investigation into the Chinese notion of wenhua concerns the attitudes of city dwellers in Kunming towards this influx of rural people. Two categories of people are central to this discussion: mingong and Kunming ren. 4 They are members of a new urban grouping and are generally referred to as the ‘floating population’ or ‘migrant workers’ by Western observers (Solinger 1995; Zhang 2002), or as mangliu (blind current) by the Chinese media. They venture into cities in hope of a better life, both socially and financially.

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