“On Hearing the Donkey’s Bray: Friendship, Ritual, and Social Convention in Medieval China”



The braying of the donkey is understood differently in two separate anecdotes from the Shishuo xinyu. This difference of signification raises the question of what the sound of the bray might mean for the early medieval cultural imagination. An examination of the donkey’s bray within anecdotal, religious, biographical, and poetic contexts relates the humble animal’s call to broader themes of friendship, ritual, politics, and interpretation itself.

Last updated on 03/09/2021