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The Humanity Notebooks

The Many Faces of an Urban Commute

Photograph by Zara Katz

During the fall of the Ming Dynasty in seventeenth-century China, as Manchu armies swept in from the north, court artists and scholars confronted a painful choice: align with the invading forces, or remain loyal to the old guard and face death or exile. Some Ming loyalists killed themselves rather than pledge themselves to the nascent Qing Dynasty. Others became Buddhist monks and wanderers who roamed the countryside, painting large narrative works that depict melancholic journeys across infinite-seeming landscapes.

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