There's no place like home: Xie lingyun's representation of his estate in "rhapsody on dwelling in the mountains"

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1 Scopus citations


In his monumental work, "Rhapsody on Dwelling in the Mountains" ("Shanju fu"), Xie Lingyun describes in detail the construction of his home in a setting that would constitute his style of reclusion and poetry, "mountains and rivers" (shanshui). This articles examines how Xie Lingyun built his home through architecture and discourse, and how shaping a home may bear upon the characterization of a particular brand of reclusion in early medieval China. Contrary to the prevailing early medieval view that regards reclusion as being in its loftier form when state of mind is prioritized over physical position, this rhapsody shows that for this scholar in retreat place actually matters. His rhapsody catalogues all varieties of animals and plants, related sceneries and industries, on his mountain estate. This encyclopedic enumeration of things and activities on his estate advances the claim of material self-sufficiency or completeness that he enjoys in his withdrawal, but creates a paradox with the spiritual emptiness that he sought through quietist values and Buddhist faith.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-37
Number of pages17
JournalEarly Medieval China
Issue number21
StatePublished - Dec 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory


  • Home space
  • Mountains and rivers
  • Reclusion
  • Shanju fu
  • Xie Lingyun


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