Shih-shan Susan Huang - Associate Professor of Art History, Department of Art History, Rice University
One of the most striking symbols created by Daoism—China’s indigenous religion—is the hybrid “imagetext” that creates ambiguity between words and images, legibility and illegibility, the representational and the nonrepresentational. Various charts, talismans, and magical writs preserved in the fifteenth-century Daoist Canon appropriate elements of writings to create new visual forms. Daoist practice of “imagetext” highlights the long-lasting fascination with writing in religious Daoism. Not a simple interface of text and image, “imagetext” is imbedded in cosmological and spatial dimensions, for according to the Daoist perception of world creation, the “imagetext” is part of the landscape.