This article examines birthday albums, a genre that combines paintings and literary texts in calligraphy, produced by a group of peer artists and writers to celebrate birthdays of elders in the Wu region (Suzhou) during the mid-Ming period (1450–1550). Each album pairs paintings and texts devoted to a series of locales important to the honoree. Place mediated social, physical, and cultural experiences among groups of literati as they commemorated their social activities and their bodily and intellectual engagement with the sites. Birthday albums defined an aesthetic format of artistic and literary practices at that time. As a collection that synthesized multivalent associations, birthday albums documented a cultural field of mid-Ming Suzhou. Artists and writers collaborated in a broader cultural practice that valorized contemporary works made by groups of associates that express the makers' and honorees' nuanced collective sensibility of “our time.”

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