What Remains: Coming to Terms with Civil War in 19th Century China

By Tobie Meyer-Fong | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
Wood and Ink

Names inscribed on wooden tablets arranged hierarchically in shrines exalted the war dead. Books and lists testified to heroic sacrifice in the name of the Qing state. Whether carved in wood or stone, written in ink, or given form as architecture, efforts to honor the dead endeavored to impose order on disorderly experiences. Who was loyal? Who was righteous? Who betrayed the dynasty and joined the rebels? Clear and absolute categories were defied and undermined in practice; and yet, survivors tried retrospectively to fit their lives and their dead to unyielding templates marking imperial honor and rebel wretchedness. In the aftermath of war, the re-inscription of orthodox values through construction of loyalty shrines and compilation of martyrologies could reiterate commitment to the dynasty and the principles it ostensibly stood for. Or it could point to the dynasty’s failure to uphold those very same principles. The image of the well-tended dead lodged in centrally mandated shrines, ritually satisfied and no longer threatening, coexisted uncomfortably with the need to alleviate popular outrage at the dynasty’s failings, and with the lingering shadows of war.

For both local and dynastic actors, commemoration of the dead evidently was understood as an essential precondition for postwar re-integration.1 What institutions, rituals, and expectations framed these acts of commemoration? Where and when were they invented, and what was their history? Did honoring the dead represent a form of closure, a strategy to render war

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What Remains: Coming to Terms with Civil War in 19th Century China
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Author’s Note xv
  • Chapter One- War 1
  • Chapter Two- Words 21
  • Chapter Three- Marked Bodies 65
  • Chapter Four- Bones and Flesh 99
  • Chapter Five- Wood and Ink 135
  • Chapter Six- Loss 175
  • Chapter Seven- Endings 203
  • Notes 209
  • Glossary 271
  • Bibliography 275
  • Index 305
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