Through international trade, coral fragments from the Mediterranean Sea arrived in Ming dynasty China. There, they were represented in paintings as a significant constituent of pan-Asian Buddhist iconographies. Against the backdrop of coral’s meanings in early modern Europe and its trade links to Asia, this chapter investigates red coral in Ming dynasty China with a focus on Buddhist imagery, particularly through Korean paintings and Indian mythology. Entangled in a web of transcultural meanings, coral was perceived as having a unique ability to transform. It was viewed as an object “in between”: between global and local spaces, between resembling tree branches and the blood-covered bones of self-sacrifice, between foreign commodity and sacred offering.
|Title of host publication||Gems in the Early Modern World|
|Subtitle of host publication||Materials, Knowledge and Global Trade, 1450–1800|
|Editors||Michael Bycroft, Sven Dupré|
|Number of pages||30|
|Publication status||Published - 6 Dec 2018|
|Name||Europe's Asian Centuries|
- Ming dynasty