Confucianism and the Arts

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Department 1

Religious Studies


This essay is Chapter 29 of The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the Arts edited by Frank Burch Brown (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014, pages 388-395). Religion and the Arts is one of the newest additions to the Oxford Handbook series, a project that explores reviews of recent academic research across disciplines. This edited volume of essays examines intersections between the visual and spiritual realms as they are expressed in religious traditions around the globe. Sommer's article was commissioned for Part III of this volume, "Religious Ways of Being Artistic," and it is a state-of-the-field review of recent Western-language scholarship on Confucianism and visual culture. Here Sommer critiques uses of the term "Confucian," "religion," and even "art" and notes that "Confucian" art is as yet little understood. She explores recent scholarship on such phenomena as ritual performance, ritual objects, music, ancestral portraits, woodblock prints, cosmic diagrams, conceptualizations of perception, and iconoclasm.

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