Lecture on Chinese classical poetry – winter theme

20/02/2017
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Picture: Wang Wei "Painting on Contemplating Snow on the River Bank" (王维《江干雪意图》)
Picture: Wang Wei "Painting on Contemplating Snow on the River Bank" (王维《江干雪意图》)
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On Wednesday, 22 Feburay, at 18.00 at the National Library of Latvia (Baltic Research Centre for East Asian Studies Library (AsiaRes) Reading Room, level M) the second part of the lecture series "Airu vēdas" (Rudder Strokes), which focuses on the transition from ending to beginning, will happen. Free entrance.

Similar to other poetic motives that can easily be associated with the seasons, also winter is a meaningful element in the development of festival traditions. Winter is the season of hunting festivals popular among the aristocracy. The cold, the fiercer it was sensed the more it became associated from early times with the theme of warfare along the northern and north-western frontlines between Chinese civilization and so-called barbarian adversaries. The desolateness of the soldier when he was opposed to death in foreign land, resonates in several texts expressing philosophical scepticism. The latter, however, became an important factor of the flourishing of individual and personal lyrical poetry since the 3rd century AD.

During the lecture, we will see how winter motives become more complex over a longer period until the end of the Tang dynasty (9th cent.). Only during the period of the Song dynasty (10th–13th cent.), during which the cultural scenes and traditions of cities and regions gain a foothold in lyrical poetry, a more playful variety becomes visible in the poetic winter scenery. This reflects more personified human views on life interacting with the irreversible and almighty DAO.