In the sixth year of the Zhenghe era (1116), Emperor Huizong commanded the casting of a bronze cauldron for his close advisor, the eunuch Tong Guan. The resulting cauldron, which survives today in the collection of the National Palace Museum in Taipei, instantiated the court’s response to a long-standing debate over the proper means of embodying antiquity in the present. Through a close reading of the cauldron’s distinctively polytemporal features, this paper excavates the hermeneutics with which Song intellectuals negotiated the ground between abstract unity and substantive difference.
Jeffrey Moser is Assistant Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at Brown University. His research focuses on the artistic and intellectual history of China during the Song era (tenth to thirteenth centuries AD), with particular attention to the problems of ritual, language, and facture. He is completing a book on the rediscovery of classical bronzes in eleventh century China.