Degree Year

2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Art

Advisor(s)

Erik Inglis
Bonnie Cheng

Keywords

Early Christianity in China, Cross-culture, Yuan Dynasty, Franciscan missionary, Medieval

Abstract

In 1950s, two fourteenth-century tombstones with Latin inscriptions were discovered in Yangzhou, China. Both tombstones were made for an Italian merchant family. The tombstones bear Christian iconography such as the Last Judgment, the Virgin and Child and the martyrdom of St. Catherine of Alexandria, while non-western details are represented as well, including the Mongol garments, Chinese furniture and Islamic and Nestorian gravestones. My research considers the dynamic matrices of various religious and ethnic groups, which concomitantly arrived in Yuan China under an overarching control of the Mongol Empire. By valorizing the pictorial language on the tombstones, I will illustrate how the Christian funerary monuments, traversing their private and religious boundary, reflect the pluralistic society of Yuan China. Given the lack of primary textual evidence directly related to the Yangzhou Latin tombstones, my study aims to reconstruct the contextual situation of the tombstones by assembling and interweaving fragmentary historical and visual information. My cross-cultural study attests to the potential of images in articulating their own circumstances against a “messy” culture.

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