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The Dog and its Representations in Ancient China

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Kangxi Emperor’s Dog
Giuseppe Castiglione, 1688-1766

Multi-disciplinary team working on the theme of ‘Plants and Animals in Ancient China’

Director : LI Guoqiang (Université Paris Ouest)

Permanent Members : Frédéric DEVIENNE (UPD), Marc KALINOWSKI (EPHE), Olivier VENTURE (EPHE), Alain THOTE (EPHE), Eric TROMBERT (CNRS)
Associate Members : Françoise BOTTÉRO (CNRS-CRLAO-EHESS), Catherine DESPEUX (INALCO)
Doctoral Student : ZHONG Liang (EPHE)
Partners : YUAN Jing (Institute of Archaeology, ASSC)

For two years (2010-2012), our multi-disciplinary team, created in 2010, carried out general research on the topic of plants and animals and their classification, names, representations and uses in ancient China (from the Shang to the Han period and in certain cases, later). The team members have so far amassed a wealth of documentation related to their different fields of speciality, including a census of archaeological and written data on the origin of the domestication of millet, plant names and uses based on funerary records, animal representations, a list of characters as well as denominational and classificatory terminology related to bovines appearing in the early dictionaries, etc. The team has also been working on ways to apply a multi-disciplinary and cohesive approach to the topics mentioned above. This has led them to focus on the theme of the domestic dog. Research on the subject was initiated in 2013, and should be completed within the five-year research plan (2014-18).

Objectives :

- Census of the available data (archaeological discoveries, manuscripts, characters and terminology, images).
-Translation of a selection of important and representative texts.
- Inventory of archaeological, iconographic and terminological data ; multidisciplinary study on the dog and its sociocultural context in ancient China.
- International conference on the theme of the dog (2016).
- Publication of the research in two volumes : volume 1 : data (archaeological and iconographical inventory, extracts from texts and translations, major extant studies, complete references) ; volume 2 : presentation of the team’s research.

Research conducted in 2013 and 2014 (until March 2014) :

- Reading, census, classification and study of pre-Han texts mentioning the dog (weekly sessions).
- Presentation of thematic data : names and classification, diversity and functions, religious and ritual uses, terminology, texts and iconography (monthly sessions).
- Academic visit : YUAN Jing, associate member of the Academy of Social Sciences Archaeological Institute in Beijing (2 weeks).
- Translation and annotation of fundamental studies (E. Erkes 1932, 1944 and B. Laufer, 1909).

Future work :

- Presentation of thematic data : the dog in Han manuscripts and documents of North western China, dog diseases and the dog in traditional medicine, physiognomy of the dog and divination using the dog (2014).
- Translation of selected texts (2014-15).
- Establishment of a theoretical and multidisciplinary framework for drafting the 2-volume research work.

Five-year plan (2015-18) :
Drafting of in-depth articles for the second volume of research on the following themes (2015) :
- Archaeological findings related to the dog, from prehistoric times to antiquity.
- Domestication of the dog, breeds and functions from Antiquity to the Han period.
- Representations of the dog in iconography, from the Neolithic to the Han period.
- The dog in oracle inscriptions of the Shang dynasty and in manuscripts of the warring states of the Qin and Han.
- Names, classification and terminology of the dog in early dictionaries and writings.
- The dog in religion and rituals and its religious symbolism.
- The dog, disease and medicine.
- The dog as food and the social status of the butcher.
- International conference on the dog (2016).
- Publication of the research in two volumes.

Additional project :

Li Guoqiang : Tea in the border regions and the Tea Road. The aim of this project launched in 2010 is to conduct ethno-botanical and ethno-historical field research on tea and the Tea Road in Yunnan and South-western China. A vast amount of data has been collected and the research area to be covered has been defined for the book’s publication by the end of 2017.