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Nam nguyen hyi talk 02 28 2013

Nam nguyen hyi talk 02 28 2013
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Published in: Spiritual      

Transcripts - Nam nguyen hyi talk 02 28 2013

  • 1. HARVARD-YENCHING INSTITUTE LUNCH TALK SERIES Reality and Reproduction: Aspects of Sino-Vietnamese Relations as Reflected in a Fourteenth-Century Handscroll PaintingNam NguyenVietnam National University - Ho Chi Minh CityDiscussants: Professor Hue-Tam Ho Tai (History, Harvard University) andProfessor Eugene Wang (History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University) Thursday, February 28, 2012 12:00 - 1:30 pm Yenching Common Room, 2 Divinity AvenueIn April 2012, an auction in Beijing made shocking headline news: the reproduction of an ancient ten-meter long handscroll painting was sold with a surprisingly high price of 1.8 million US dollars. Still preserved in the Provincial Museumof Liaoning (China), the original painting is called The Mahasattva Truc Lam Coming Out of the Mountains 竹林大士出山圖. It dates back to 1363 and is attributed to a Chinese artist by the name of Chen Jianru 陳鑑如. “Truc Lam”(Bamboo Grove) is the style name of the Founding Patriarch of the Vietnamese Zen school named after it, King TranNhan Tong. Having defeated Kublai Khan’s invading army twice, Tran Nhan Tong abdicated the throne to his son andbecame the Emperor Emeritus. Subsequently, he retreated into the mountainous region of Vu Lam – Yen Tu to practiceZen Buddhism. In 1304, the Patriarch came out of the mountains due to the request of his son, King Tran Anh Tong, toconfer the Bodhisattva commandments on him and his court. The painting in question describes this historical event ofthe Venerable coming out of the mountains, with the King and his delegation respectfully welcoming him.The talk is an attempt to read the inner text (the painting) with the support of outer texts (Chinese and Vietnamesereferential sources). Due to its artistic features, hand scroll painting embedded with colophons by literati from differentsettings should be “read” in a quite specific way that generates multi focal points during the course of reading. Thus, thetalk is an interpretation of selected focal points identified in this work of art. By reconstructing the background of thecoming-out-of-the-mountains event and the composition of the hand scroll, it will point out various politico-diplomatic,historical, cultural and religious aspects in Sino-Vietnamese relations during the transitional periods of the two realmsunder the Chinese Yuan and Ming and the Vietnamese Tran dynasties. Nam Nguyen is a lecturer and the former Chairperson of the Division of Chinese Studies (Viet- nam National University in Ho Chi Minh City). After earning his MA (RSEA) and PhD (EALC) from Harvard, he served as manager of Academic Programs of the Harvard-Yenching Institute. His research interests focus on comparative literature (dealing mainly with China and Vietnam), and translation studies. He is currently an associate of the HYI.

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