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The Dog in Ancient China and Today

by Lemardelé Élise - published on

Principal Investigators : Li Guoqiang, Frédéric Devienne

Disciplines: Archaeozoology, Ethnography, Historical Ethnozoology, Art History, Iconography, Lexicography, Literature, Philosophy, Religion

Participants:

Full Members

Frédéric DEVIENNE, LI Guoqiang, Sylvie HUREAU, Christine MOLLIER

Associate Members

Françoise BOTTÉRO (CNRS-CRLAO-EHESS), Vincent DURAND-DASTÈS (INALCO), Vincent GOOSSAERT (EPHE), Valérie LAVOIX (INALCO)

International Collaborators

YUAN Jing (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Archaeology Institute), GUAN Xiaojing (Beijing Academy of Social Sciences), LUO Yang (Doctorante, Sichuan minzu daxue)

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Scope of the project and research fields covered

The previous five-year project (2014-2018), The Dog and its Representations in Ancient China, covered the period from the animal’s domestication in the Neolithic, to its uses and representations in a wide range of fields throughout Antiquity, and up to the Han dynasty. Following this line of enquiry, we now propose to broaden our research field not only to the historical periods after Antiquity, but also to other geographic and ethnographic areas, within China itself as well as in neighbouring regions.

This program brings together researchers from France, China as well as other countries. Intrinsically multi-disciplinary, it covers the following two main research fields:
- The role, representation and symbols relating to the dog in the different fields of traditional Chinese culture, including its contemporary manifestations, both in the fields of religion, the arts and literature, and in popular folklore and local customs.
- The dog in the different ancient and modern ethnic groups of China, and its boadering regions: including those living in the Dian Kingdom, the Miao-Yao people, the Manchu, the Mongols, the Tibetans, the people of Siberia.

Iconographic component

Among the different sources studied, special consideration is given to iconographic materials. In order to share the results and iconographic data collected over the last five-year programme as widely as possible, the 2019-2023 period will correspond to the implementation of an online database for iconographic materials relating to the dog in ancient China (CYNICO, 1 300 entries at first). Beyond offering online visibility, this tool is also more than an iconographic inventory of the dog’s history in ancient China with a special emphasis on imagery from the Han period, which provides the richest and most diverse material for research on this subject. Indeed, the database aims to bring out a certain number of anthropozoological research questions that are at the heart of our project: the presence of different canine morphologies dating back to Antiquity, the attestation of a wide range of uses of the dog by the Chinese in this period – in particular with the question of whether the dog acquired, like in Rome, the privileged status of “pet” in households — as well as the existence of a religious iconography which reveals the role played by dogs as well as foxes and wolves in that sphere. If our program is not limited to this iconographic component and the research questions it generates, it visually translates our project’s main research themes.

Scientific output and scientific activities
• International symposium in 2022.
• Publication of a collective work in 2023.