Authenticity and Authorship in Classical Chinese
May 10, 2005 11:33 PM Subscribe
I'm writing a paper about Classical Chinese norms of authorship disguised as a legal article about Intellectual Property. I'm looking for a citation on the following story: Chinese painters (or calligraphers) would apparently purposefully ruin their authenticating stamps, so that the resulting flaw would result in a harder-to-forge mark. Does anyone know where this is from?
posted by kensanway to writing & language (3 answers total)
I'm generally arguing against William Alford's explanation in TO STEAL A BOOK IS AN ELEGANT OFFENSE--a fairly unnuanced generalization of Chinese culture, roughly summarizable as "Hey the Chinese love copying!" My paper's a little complex to explain here, but I'm basically saying that (1) the Chinese did have a limited notion of authorship, enough of a concept that they would want proper attribution; and (2) what we see as copying in chinese arts could be likened instead to manipulation of genre conventions or referential (post)modernism, something we see in the West, whether in the form of The Waste Land or Q. Tarrantino movies.
I'm mainly interested in finding the origin of this authenticating stamp story, but if you know offhand of any other interesting things to look at, feel free to divulge (regarldess of the relevant American IP norms! Ha ha!)