2016 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Literati, Monks, and the Emperor: The Cultural Construction and
Landscape Politics of Mt. Qixia in Late Imperial China

Xiaobai Hu

Department of History, University of Pennsylvania

Mt. Qixia is a renowned historical site in Nanjing, and its changing landscape and shifting cultural connotations from the early sixteenth through the late nineteenth centuries deserve closer examination. Although half ruined during the middle of the Ming period, Mt. Qixia was chosen by literati as a proper place for hermitage, and thus became literary subject of remembrance. Later, due to Sheng Shitai’s exploration of the landscape’s rich historical and cultural resources, the cultural connotations of Mt. Qixia became increasingly rich with the popularity of literati tourism and the revival of Buddhism there. In the early Qing, the historical site was favored by Ming loyalists as a site to mourn the fallen dynasty, and this sentiment became another cultural element marking Mt. Qixia. Its culture, however, was later greatly reconstructed when the historical site was chosen as a temporary imperial palace during the Qianlong Emperor’s southern tours. The imperial political power thus reshaped the geographical layout, cultural elements, and historical memories of the landscape. As literati and Buddhist culture faded, and the emotional attachment to the Ming diminished, the Qing imperial power was highlighted when Yin Jishan and Emperor Qianlong reconstructed the culture of the landscape. The multi-layered landscape culture demonstrates different cultural characteristics of the site at different historical stages, and the transforming process was closely related to the urban culture of Nanjing during the Ming-Qing period.


Keywords: Mt. Qixia, literati culture, Buddhist culture, southern tour of the Qianlong Emperor, landscape politics