Kaikodo Journal XV Spring 2000
Realms of Faith
Corresponding to the exhibition held between March 18 and April 15, 2000. 41 Chinese and Japanese paintings; 34 Chinese objects (75 color plates). Preface by Howard Rogers. 357 pages.
Includes the essays:
“Love, Death and Resurrection, in and
of The Peony Pavilion”
Steven D. Owyoung:
“The Connoisseurship of Tea—A Translation
and Commentary on the ‘P’in-ch’a’
Section of the Record of Superlative
Things by Wen Chen-heng (1585-1645)”
“Lives of the Painters: Hsia Kuei (1145?-1225?)”
Essays were contributed by Dr. John Rockwell, at the time of the journals publication the editor of the Sunday “Arts and Leisure” section of The New York Times, and by Dr. Steven D. Owyoung, former Curator of Asian Arts at The St. Louis Art Museum. Following a twenty-two year career with The Times, mainly as a music critic based in New York but also, from 1992-1994, as their Paris-based European cultural correspondent, John then became Director of the Lincoln Center Festival (1994-1998) and conceived the audacious plan of staging for the first time in four-hundred years a complete, 18-hour production of the 1598 Chinese opera The Peony Pavilion. Although the initial project was aborted, and the opera not seen at that time, the life-cycle of that undertaking constitutes a drama in itself. John’s essay takes us backstage, as it were, and introduces us to the organizers, director, artists, and officials who played significant roles in that unscripted piece of theater. His essay also acquaints us with the artistic and political issues that confronted the major players and precipitated a crisis that illumines the differing attitudes between East and West toward artistic independence and integrity, and on how best to preserve and nourish a cultural tradition without embalming it. Steven Owyoung’s essay concerns just such a tradition, that of the Chinese cult of tea as it evolved from the 8th to the 17th century, down to the very time, place, and social circle within which The Peony Pavilion was created. With his translation of Wen Zhenheng’s (Wen Chen-heng) early 17th century Pincha (P’in-ch’a) or “Connoisseurship of Tea” as an organizing framework, Steve’s essay provides a revealing glimpse into the intimate lives of the late Ming literati from a very special viewpoint, one associated with an activity that was of great moment to the participants but which is very seldom mentioned by any save those, like Steve himself, who are personally and aesthetically as well as intellectually involved with this particular art. Howard Rogers’ essay on the Song master Xia Gui (Hsia Kuei ) (11451-1225?) aims to present what little is known about his life and career and to define the salient characteristics of Xia’s style, which was highly influential in both China and Japan.