Daoist visual culture: Images of the inner and outer worlds

Daoist visual culture: Images of the inner and outer worlds

Professor Shih-shan Susan Huang of Rice University. (Photo: Peggy McInerny/UCLA.)

A lecture on the visual culture of Daoism by Shih-shan Susan Huang, illustrated with a multitude of drawings from historical texts, focused on the polarization of "inner" and "outer" images.

UCLA International Institute, October 18, 2013 — Shih-shan Susan Huang, associate professor of art history and director of undergaduate studies at Rice University in Texas, spoke about her recent book, "Picturing the True Form: Daosit Visual Culture in Traditional China" (Havard University Asia Center, 2012), at the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies on October 17.

Huang used numerous historical drawings from Daosit texts to explain the complex imagery that depicted the inner and outer worlds, as well as the relationship of these images to Daoist visualization meditations, rituals and artifacts. Images of inner landscapes were, for example, visualizations imagined by a Daoist adept, whereas landscapes were understood as the outer reflections of the inner world of the body.

Professor Huang discussed the progression of Daoist ideas over time in these images, revealing a number of interesting facts, such as the miniature handmade human organs contained inside acupuncture sculptures such as the "Bronze Man." 


Daoist chart of the inner realm. (Photo: Peggy McInerny/UCLA.)

Daoist images of the body as a microcosm of the macrocosm. (Photo: Peggy McInerny/UCLA.)

Published: Monday, October 21, 2013