Art and the Taiping Rebellion

Ho, Yi Hsing Joan 何懿行
Supervisor: Prof. Q.L. Wan

This thesis aims to point out primarily the layered meanings behind Taiping art. It will provide an overview of the art made by the Taipings, and thereafter show how different political parties in post-Taiping China have manipulated the images and values of the Taipings to their advantage. A discussion of each party’s ideology will also be included. The contextual approach adopted by this thesis intends to illustrate the relationship between art and the Taiping Rebellion over time.

The visual materials discussed in this thesis are the murals and wood engravings of the Taipings, a series of paintings made in 1886 as part of an imperial project and Shanghai lithographic illustrated publications in relation to the project, and the visual propaganda of Nationalists and Communists of the twentieth century which embody the two parties’ own interpretations of Taiping history.

In view of the complexity of the subject, this thesis is primarily an information collecting exercise, offering a wider academic perspective, and revealing the characteristics of the visual works related to the Taipings, so that there can be more interpretations of the nuances of the Taiping Rebellion in the study of Chinese art history.