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Zhou Maolan's Tiehuang and Its Postscripts: a New and Everlasting Text in Blood




周茂蘭 貼黃 遺民 文物 文本

Parallel abstracts

Between 1625 and 1626, Zhou Shunchang, a Ming official well known for his outspoken opposition to the tyranny of Wei Zhongxian the infamous palace eunuch, was arrested and tortured to death, together with twelve other officials. Fortunately for their families and descendants, the political rehabilitation of these thirteen loyal officials started in late 1627 when emperor Xizong (reign title Tianqi) died and the new emperor Sizong (reign title Chongzhen) was enthroned. Zhou Maolan, son of Zhou Shunchang, submitted a memorial written in his own blood supplicating for the new emperor's mercy and justice for his father. According to the newly implemented regulations on memorial submission, an official was required to provide a summary of his memorial in a separate sheet, known as tiehuang. Zhou Maolan was told that the phrasing of his tiehuang might embarrass and anger the new emperor. Consequently, Zhou Maolan wrote a new tiehuang again with his own blood and submitted it together with his memorial to the court. The old tiehuang, now remained with Zhou Maolan, became a distinctive text with a sophisticated cultural life. In more than three hundred years, this old tiehuang grew from a small sheet to a huge set of two scrolls of postscripts in prose, poem and seal by Ming and Qing loyalists, famous scholars and renowned connoisseurs. Following the logic of market for antiquity and artifact, the tiehuang, as a text, slipped away from the Zhou family, changed its ownership constantly, crossing over national border and finally settled itself in the Bei Shan Tang Foundation in Hong Kong. During this journey, the tiehuang witnesses historical transformation, registers individual and collective trauma, emotions, memory and yearning, grows in size, and in this sense becomes a new and everlasting text in blood.

Parallel keywords

Zhou Maolan tiehuang political loyalist artifact text