Intérieur et extérieur des statuettes en Chine : approches sociologiques et scientifiques

Alain Arrault (EFEO-CECMC) et Michela Bussotti (EFEO-CECMC) sont invités par le Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University les 18 et 19 mai 2017.

Ils présenteront chacun une communication sur les statuettes du Hunan, dans le cadre du séminaire exploratoire organisé par James Robson (Harvard University) : « Asian Images Inside-Out: What Can the Materials and Contents of Statues Tell Us about Religion in China? » :

  • Alain Arrault : « The Hunan Statues Collections: Context, Content, and Cataloguing ».
  • Michela Bussotti : « Hunan Wooden Statue and their Carvers ».

Les statuettes du Hunan sont l’objet d’une base de données. Il s’agit d’un programme de recherche collectif de l’École française d’Extrême-Orient, programme coordonné par Alain Arrault.

Le Prince de Shakya (Shijia Taizi), district de Xinhua, province du Hunan ; sculpteur : Zheng Xianxiang, He Chunsheng, dynastie des Qing, h. 25 cm, Musée du Hunan, 0490/C:1588 © Musée du Hunan – EFEO

Participent également à ce séminaire : Daniel Borengasser (History of East Asian Statues Inner World), Agnieszka Helman-Wazny (Paper Analysis of the Hunan Manuscripts), Sylvie Michel et Hanh Dufat (Statues Materia Medica Preliminary Analysis, in absentia), Itoh Takao et Mechtild Mertz (Wood Analysis) et Kojima Daisuke (Japanese Wooden Statuary).

Présentation du séminaire

This exploratory seminar assesses the possibilities and potential impacts of bringing together a diverse array of scholars working in the humanities and sciences to focus on a particularly valuable and unique set of East Asian materials. In 1985, Chinese customs officials intercepted a shipping container filled with nearly 1,000 small wooden religious images dating from the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912 CE) to the present. We later discovered that the collection was just one of five extant collections that in total preserved about 8,000 statues. While researching the statues we found they all contain a small niche carved into the back that is filled with a variety of objects, including medicinal herbs, desiccated insects, talismans, paper money, and manuscripts. The manuscripts provide an unprecedented amount of information about the date of the image, its provenance, the name of the deity represented, the donors, and the reasons for its consecration. The initial cataloguing is now complete. We now intend to utilize innovative methods to address larger questions. In addition to studying the statues and their documents from the perspective of the humanities, we also approach them from multiple interdisciplinary angles. Specialists who are scientifically analyzing various aspects of the statues—such as the contents of the medicinal packets (identifying all the herbs and minerals included), the paper used for the documents, and the wood species used to carve the statues—are part of a diverse group of scholars in the program who have been working on the religious and cultural significance of these statues.

Site du séminaire


Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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