Art during the Reign of Eternal Happiness of the Empire of Great Brilliance (The Yongle emperor of the Ming dynasty, 1403-24)
This talk will provide an overview of the role of art during the reign Zhu Di, who ruled during the Yongle reign of the Ming dynasty. Certainly among the most dynamic of the emperors of the Ming, Zhu Di was also among the most active in the arts. During his reign art played key roles within China and in diplomatic relations with other nations. Among Zhu Di's many great domestic accomplishments were the completion of many buildings in imperial capitals in Nanjing and Beijing, transfer of the primary capital to Beijing, and the rebuilding of the Grand Canal. Massive amounts of art were required for decorating the interiors of the great new buildings and for the ceremonies and rituals performed within them. A complex system was developed to commission these objects from their often distant points of manufacture and to deliver them works to the imperial capitals. Art also played a role in maintaining relations with the Ming Empire's allies and courting favor with its enemies. As the Son of Heaven with a divine right to rule, Zhu Di did not stoop to buying and selling art, instead he received tribute and presented gifts.
Co-presented with Humanities West.