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A Study on the Woodblock Illustrations in Shilin Jushi's Edition of Peony Pavilion
Tang Xianzu (1550-1616) wrote Peony Pavilion in the year of 1598. After completing, many commented editions and adopted editions showed up in a short time, showing that Peony Pavilion disseminated widely and was popular among people at that time. Nowadays, there are a lot of discussions in literature. However there are nearly no researches talking about woodblock illustrations on Peony Pavilion. One of editions of Peony Pavilion published in 1617 by an unknown bookshop, the edition has two prefaces. The one embodied in almost every edition was written by Tang and another one was written by Shilin Jushi. The second preface can only be found in this edition and it will be called Shilin Jushi edition in the following content. Shilin Jushi edition is not only one of the earliest and exiting blocked-printed editions of Peony Pavilion, but also has been gradually focused because it has been regarded as the closest version to Tang’s original work. Both of the drawing and carving quality in the woodblock illustrations of Shilin Jushi edition are very delicate and the narrative is also very elegant. Furthermore, it still remains several re-print and re-cut edition today which reveals the popularity of Shilin Jushi edition. We noticed that the whole book has 40 illustrations and 30 of them were left signatures from 7 carvers who came from Huang Family of Qiu village in She country. According to Qiuchuan Huangshi Zongpu (the genealogy of Huang family in Qiuchuan), carvers from the 26th generation were Huang Dexiu (1580-1652), Huang Yingwei (1583-?) and Huang Yingyi（1593-?）and carvers from the 27th generation were Huang Yikai (1580-1622), Huang Yifeng (1583-?), and unrecorded Huang Xiangfu and Huang Duanfu. The uniqueness of material gives us the opportunity to find out the possible working group of Huang carvers. By observing the working situation of this group, perhaps we can answer the pending questions about Hui school woodblock illusrations in the past, such as how the working group function and the relationship between draft and carver, can discuss the style of Hui school woodblock illusrations clearly. Then we may eliminate the previous difficulty of depicting the style of Hui school woodblock illusrations. The previous researches used to focus on specific areas and excluded others. Due to the transferability of the group, now we may break the limitation while observing the style of woodblock illusrations.
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