Heritage or Imperial Violence : A Hidden History of Early Ming Princely Acquisition of Art

Huiping PANG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

1 Scopus Citations

Abstract

The bequeathing of property within a royal family is ostensibly a clean transfer governed by clear legal codes. In the case of the Ming imperial court, many assume that imperial collections were commonly gifted from the cosmopolitan capital to the peripheral princedoms. A long-standing hypothesis holds that the first Ming emperor, Hongwu (r. 1368–98) bestowed a collection of fourth- to fourteenth-century canonical paintings and calligraphies to his sons Zhu Gang (1358–98) and Zhu Tan (1370–89) upon their enfeoffment ceremonies, but a variety of legal and cultural practices could have muddled this seemingly straightforward transaction from father to son. 

This paper unravels the secret of princely art acquisitions in the early Ming. It challenges existing scholarship on the transmission patterns by examining both the alleged enfeoffment gifts from Hongwu as well as multiple art confiscations during the 1390s. Zhu Gang in fact did not receive most of the artworks from his father, but seized them from several deposed officials whose power and fortune had irritated the emperor. Utilizing Hongwu's messages to Zhu Gang, which reveal the dark side of imperial gifts and property appropriations, this paper integrates the study of political and legal histories into that of the early Ming princely collecting culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-26
Number of pages25
JournalMing studies
Volume2016
Issue number74
Early online date12 Oct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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gift
father
art
violence
fourteenth century
history
transaction
acquisition
History
Ming
Art
Heritage
Gangs
Emperor
Gift

Bibliographical note

Listed as the “Top Research on Medieval Materiality" (Routledge)

Keywords

  • Emperor Hongwu
  • enfeoffment gift
  • Prince Zhu Gang
  • property confiscation
  • siyin official seal

Cite this

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Heritage or Imperial Violence : A Hidden History of Early Ming Princely Acquisition of Art. / PANG, Huiping.

In: Ming studies, Vol. 2016, No. 74, 2016, p. 2-26.

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

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