Bureaucratic Fantasy

Here’s a moment of high comedy from Chin P’ing Mei, an account of Taoist ritual:
“This lot consists of nine memorials…the one submitted at the time of the ninth recitation to the Ruler of the Most Exalted Crimson Empyrean, the Perfected Lord and Investigation Commissioner of the Nine Heavens. These nine memorials are accompanied by memoranda addressed to the four bureaus in charge of undeserved emolument, retribution, concealed injustice, and cumulative accomplishment, and thanking the said four bureaus for their attention.”
The Taoist pantheon appears to be a parody of Imperial bureaucracy. Does this have any relevance to Chinese art? It might. Certainly there is some large area of official culture that is completely bureaucratized. Amusing that the heavenly offices correspond exactly to the earthly crimes of the protagonist. We might find the same correspondence between art and life in any Chinese gallery.

The Jade Emperor, Bureaucrat-in-Chief

The Jade Emperor, Bureaucrat-in-Chief

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