In 1800 Huang Yi published Engraved Texts of the Lesser Penglai Pavilion, reproducing his collection of antique rubbings as well as the later inscriptions added to them by scholars. The original rubbings were made from ancient inscribed stone monuments, and the book's immediate audience was the aficionados of such objects, scholars of epigraphy and evidential research. A technique that exactly conveyed the material condition of those aged rubbings was important to these scholars. Huang Yi chose the outline method called shuanggou, which traced the broken boundaries between figure and ground. This old method for copying calligraphy usually involved two stages—outlining and filling in—so that the final product reproduced a simulacrum of the original calligraphy. Huang Yi left his reproductions at the outline stage, however, which resulted in strange, warped, and broken figures that merged figure and ground, calling attention to the illegibility of many of the characters reproduced in the rubbings and evacuating the calligraphy of brushwork. This essay analyzes the figures of Engraved Texts within the context of a broader epigraphic aesthetic that permeated calligraphy and painting circa 1800. It goes on to suggest that Huang Yi's choice of shuanggou outlines, while firmly rooted in an epigraphic obsession with the material past, also marked the horizon of a changing attitude toward brushwork, and had more in common with modern methods of visualizing the world, such as the drafting techniques later implemented in engineering schools during the modernizing reforms of the late nineteenth century.

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