Colour in Early China
Understanding the development of early Chinese culture and religion
The topic of colour has
occasioned much interest and discussion among many laymen as well as
scientists, philosophers, anthropologists and archaeologists.
This is an ongoing project that started a decade ago. It covers archaeology, early inscriptions and literary references and research published in various papers has attempted to deal with the following questions
- the identification of colour terms used in early inscriptions and literature
- the reconstruction of early colour categorization
- the meaning of colour(s) in early rituals
- colour and early architecture
- colour in gift-exchange
- colour in early metallurgy
The approach taken in this study
is by necessity a pluralistic one, determined by the complexity of the topic
and the materials that are available. It
draws upon the strength and potential not only of sinological studies, but also
of linguistics, anthropology and archaeology.
The interpretation of colour use and colour symbolism in early China gives a new understanding of the development of early Chinese culture and religion.
Publications (since 2007):
- 2007: “Shang ritual animals: colour and meaning”, Bulletin of School of Oriental and African Studies, 70.2, Part 1, pp. 305-72; 70.3, Part 2, pp. 359-67
- 2009:“Colour and social relationship: Evidence from Western Zhou bronze inscriptions”, in Epigraphy and Ancient History, no. 2, pp. 221-241.
- 2010:“The term ‘red metal’ and related questions”, in Proceedings of the International Symposium on Ancient Chinese Bronzes, eds. Shanghai Museum and Hong Kong Chinese University Museum, pp.77-88.