Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chin up

I'm taking another course besides Chinese this semester. By happy accident, the very China-focused course on East Asian religion in my own program is running this semester, and it fits my schedule! To give us a sense of the China before it became China, the teacher gave us fascinating short selections to read - Shang dynasty oracle bone inscriptions, the dedication written on a Zhou ritual vessel, exquisite poems from Chu, Mozi on ghosts... A different world in so many ways! But as he was leading us through the ritual vessel inscription he passed around a book of images of ancient bronzes, and it took me way back. These are some of the bronzes at the Met, but I also recalled a gu I saw in Chicago, and, long before that, a course I sat in on at Princeton on Shang bronzes taught by Robert Bagley. A long time ago! (And I remember little more than the word "falange" - I can't remember who recommended it to me or why I pursued it, though I recall showing up out incredulity that something so arcane could have excited someone so). The wonder I experienced there came back to me today. My focus in thinking about the upcoming China trip has been resolutely contemporary, but of course, China goes way back... !

2 comments:

fgs said...

I took Bagley's course, too. It was amazing. I was just thinking about it the other day while listening to this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03qf7qx

mark said...

Maybe it's you who told me about it?