Ritual has an essential connection with art. This article suggests that the study on Shitao has significance in proposing a ritual theory of art for two reasons. First, textual analysis on his treatise on ink painting, Hua-pu, demonstrates that an artist is/should be involved in the interconnectedness of what he or she depicts. This involvement requires penetration into the primordial intuition towards what he or she perceives and has an ethical imperative to use the artist’s talent conferred by heaven. Second, Shitao’s artistic practice is interpreted as a form of rites that are a reaction to the sociopolitical changes during the Ming-Qing dynastic transition. The elaboration on Shitao’s identity and Hua-pu‘s relevance to Daoism will further support the argument. And it is in this sense that Shitao’s case reveals the claim that “art is ritual,” which is metaphorical as it appeals to an ideal form of art.

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