CHINESE LITERATI AND SCHOLAR-ARTIST-POETS
According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “In China, the literate elite were often referred to as the "literati." The literati were the gentry class, composed of individuals who passed the civil service exams (or those for whom this was the major goal in life) and who were both the scholarly and governmental elite of the society. The literati also prided themselves on their mastery of calligraphy. Often, as an adjunct to calligraphy, they were also able to paint. During the Qing dynasty, both the Individualists and the Orthodox school masters came from this elite scholar class. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University, Maxwell K. Hearn, Consultant, learn.columbia.edu/nanxuntu]
“The Scholar-Artists were proficient scholars who often embellished their paintings with poetry. These men were part of a long-standing tradition that had existed in China as far back as the 11th century. Members of the educated elite, also called the "literati," had already taken possession of calligraphy — the art of writing — as a form of self-expression. But by the 11th century, they began to apply the aesthetic principles of calligraphic brushwork to painting. They began by painting subjects that could be depicted easily with the brush techniques that they had mastered in the art of calligraphy, such as bamboo, rocks, and pine trees. This approach to subject matter set scholar-artists apart from commercial artists, who pursued a more representational manner.
Chinese literati artists often wrote poems directly on their paintings. This practice emphasized the importance of both poetry and calligraphy to the art of painting and also highlighted the notion that a painting should not try to represent or imitate the external world, but rather to express or reflect the inner state of the artist. The artist's practice of writing poetry directly on the painting also led to the custom of later appreciators of the work — perhaps the initial recipient of the painting or a later owner — adding their own reactions to the work, often also in the form of poetry. These inscriptions could be added either directly on the surface of the painting, or sometimes on a sheet of paper mounted adjacent to the painting. In this way some handscrolls accommodated numerous colophons by later owners and admirers. Thus in Chinese art the act of ownership entailed the responsibility of not only caring for the work properly, but to a certain extent also recording one's response to it.
Good Websites and Sources: List of Emperors and Other World Historical Leaders friesian.com/sangoku ; List of Emperors PaulNoll.com ; Wikipedia Long List with references to major historical events Wikipedia ; Wikipedia shorter list Wikipedia Court Life During the Time of Empress Dowager Cixi etext.virginia.edu ; Book: "Chronicle of the Chinese Emperor" by Ann Paludan. Forbidden City: Books "Forbidden City" by Frances Wood, a British Sinologist. Web Sites FORBIDDEN CITY factsanddetails.com/china ; Wikipedia; UNESCO World Heritage Site Sites World Heritage Site ; Temple of Heaven: Wikipedia Wikipedia UNESCO World Heritage Site UNESCO World Heritage Site ; Chinese History: 2) Chinese Text Project ctext.org ; 3) Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization depts.washington.edu ; Chaos Group of University of Maryland chaos.umd.edu/history/toc ; 2) WWW VL: History China vlib.iue.it/history/asia ; 3) Wikipedia article on the History of China Wikipedia Books: “Daily Life in Traditional China: The Tang Dynasty”by Charles Benn, Greenwood Press, 2002; "Cambridge History of China" Vol. 3 (Cambridge University Press); "The Culture and Civilization of China", a massive, multi-volume series, (Yale University Press)
Chinese Scholar's Library and Study
Elite Qing dynasty scholar's worked in a study with an attached rock garden. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has a replica of such a study called "The Studio of Gratifying Discourse". It has an attached rock garden and is modeled after the study at a large Ch'ing dynasty (1644-1912) residence located in the West Tung-t'ing Hills district of Lake T'ai in the village of Tang-li. A commemorative plaque in the garden wall dates the building to 1797.[Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts |:|]
According to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts: “ After the reception hall, the library or study (shu-fang) can be considered the most important room in a traditional upper class Chinese home. The library and garden offered a quiet, spiritual sanctuary in an urban setting for scholars to read, write, paint and otherwise refine their inner sensibilities. |:|
“A scholar's library or studio was a place to quietly enjoy art, literature, and music. It was a place for intellectual and artistic pursuits for the head of the household, as well as a place to escape from the mundane concerns and duties of his job as a government official. In this private place, he might practice calligraphy or painting while enjoying his collection of art objects used and treasured by past scholars. Amid his books and hanging scrolls, he might entertain similar gentlemen, sipping tea or wine while composing poetry or playing the chin-a stringed musical instrument. He might pass his leisure hours enjoying the songs of small birds, kept in beautifully constructed wooden cages. Or in autumn, he might gather crickets and keep them in ornate cages. To encourage them to chirp, he might delicately tickle them with tiny brushes. These pleasant pastimes, enjoyed alone or with friends, took place in the scholar's library, where it was easy to forget about the difficulties and concerns of daily life. |:|
“Despite the essentially Confucian framework of the society in which the educated literatus lived and worked, with its strong emphasis on family responsibility, moral codes, formal education, and bureaucratic service, the ideal of spiritual solace which encouraged the quiet, contemplative life of a recluse sprang mostly from Taoist teachings. Nature, with its balanced forces, was represented by the rock gardens and the natural materials typically associated with the library and scholar's desk. The careful choice of aesthetic surroundings, including items of contemplation, elegantly-proportioned minimally decorated hardwood furniture, symbolic rocks from Lake T'ai, rare books, and rustic antiques were carefully selected, studied, and displayed in support of the scholar's intellectual mission and personal taste. |:|
“The educated merchant class and many scholars of the Chiang-nan region—from which this library comes—created an economic and cultural climate in which the arts could flourish. Private libraries and gardens were essential to the production of some of the most original and important literati art of the Ming and early Ch'ing dynasties. The two character tile plaque set into the garden wall reads "Pursuing Harmony," while an ink inscription on a ceiling beam calls this room "The Studio of Gratifying Discourse."” |:|
Chinese Scholar's Inkstones and Brushpots
According to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts: “Amongst the "Four Treasures" of the scholar's studio: ink, brush, paper, and inkstone, it was the inkstone that was the most prized possession of a learned gentleman. While created for the mundane purpose of grinding inksticks, scholars nevertheless found deep spiritual meaning in these stones, which they felt embodied the essence of heaven and earth and represented a microcosm of the universe. Treasured inkstones were often inscribed with poetry or prose, which forms part of the connoisseurship of the object in addition to the natural aesthetic qualities of the stone and decorative carvings of the craftsman. [Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts |:|]
“Inscriptions on inkstones will often echo the mysterious interaction of water and ink with stone in bringing forth the written characters that defined poetic thoughts and visualized painted images. The T'ang poet Li Ho (790-816) in commenting on the prized, purple colored Tuan stone used in the best inkstones commented: “The stone craftsmen of Tuan-chou are as skilled as the gods, (they) stepped up to the sky, sharpened their knives and cut the purple clouds.” |:|
“The ink used by Chinese scholars for painting and calligraphy was traditionally made in the form of dry ink sticks that were ground with water on the ink stone to produce liquid ink. This allowed the artist total control over the density, texture, and quality of their ink and, by extension, the textural and tonal variations of ink by which their work would be judged. Made chiefly from pine soot (lamp black) and water-soluble animal adhesive, solid ink sticks were highly portable and could be kept almost indefinitely without losing their effectiveness. They could also be moulded in a variety of shapes and colors, complete with pictorial designs and inscriptions. Some of the fanciest ink cakes to survive were commemorative objects. Produced by special order and offered as gifts or to commemorate special events, they eventually became collector items. The use of ink can be traced to the Neolithic era and the earliest ink stick excavated to date was found in a third century B.C. tomb. |:|
“During Ming and early Ch'ing, brush pots used by the literati were made of wood, bamboo, porcelain, lacquer, and even jade. The preference, however, seems to have been for objects done in so-called "organic taste" where the mellow colors of carved bamboo, unusual grains of waxed hardwood, and the natural forms found in nature, like those shown here, were most appreciated. Used to store brushes, brush pots, like ink stones, were an important symbol of a scholar's refinement and, as with many scholar's objects, they were often decorated with appropriate literati subject matter. Inscribed with poetry as well as the signatures and seals of their makers, those made of bamboo became highly collectible. |:|
“Naturally occurring timber and root, if it had an unusual form or pleasing grain, could be used much as it was found. This taste for the "natural" resulted in some brush pots, scroll holders, and other scholar's objects being carved from precious hardwoods like tz'u-tan in close imitation of humbler materials like gnarled root and bamboo. "Organic taste" literati objects reflected the quiet simplicity and contemplative aspect of a scholar's existence and emphasized his communion with nature.” |:|
Cricket Ticklers and Scholar's Rocks
According to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts: Of all insects, the cricket has intrigued the Chinese like no other. Artists, scholars and peasants alike have kept them as pets for over a thousand years. Valued for their melodic chirping and instinctive fighting abilities, the Chinese had developed a special literature on the subject of crickets with a cult following by the 13th century. [Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts |:|]
“During the winter months, crickets were typically kept in specially prepared gourds that had been grown in ceramic molds, thereby achieving their artificial shapes and decoration. Several molded gourd cricket containers, each with carved openwork ivory, tortoise shell or horn covers are part of the collection. A tickler was used to incite crickets to sing. Fine hair or rat whiskers are inserted into a wood, bamboo or ivory handle for this purpose. Other paraphernalia included ceramic feeding trays, cage cleaning brushes, tweezers and ceramic summer cages. |:|
“The Chinese term kung-shih is generally translated as "scholar's rock" or "spirit stone" in the west. Indeed, traditional Chinese literati greatly appreciated the spiritual aspects of certain types of stones, and the deep Taoist symbolism and love of mountains that was associated with them. From the T'ang dynasty (618-906) onwards, literati collected "spirit stones" for their libraries and gardens believing that rocks of unusual form found in their natural state contained spiritual qualities and represented the forces of nature. |:|
“Unlike garden stones, scholar's rocks are displayed primarily for indoor appreciation and contemplation, usually in the library. Numerous men of letters showed an inexhaustible delight in rare rocks, and the sizeable literature devoted to rocks and rock collecting in China includes inscribed paintings, collection catalogues, poems, essays, and other prose works. More than anything it was the abstract formal qualities of unusual stones that appealed to the Chinese literati. Connoisseurs admire attenuated proportions that might recall soaring mountain peaks, deeply textured surfaces that suggest great age, strange profiles that evoke animals or the grandeur of nature, and curious perforations that create rhythmic harmonious patterns. |:|
“The widespread use of custom wooden stands for the display of scholar's rocks during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) indicates the literati had come to value their studio rocks much the same as their collected antiques. While most nineteenth and twentieth century collectors believed their pieces were shaped entirely by nature, most scholar's rocks were enhanced through some degree of carving.” |:|
Three Perfections and Scholar-Official Painting
According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “ The life of the educated man involved more than study for the civil service examinations and service in office. Many took to refined pursuits such as collecting antiques or old books and practicing the arts — especially poetry writing, calligraphy, and painting (“the three perfections”). For many individuals these interests overshadowed any philosophical, political, or economic concerns; others found in them occasional outlets for creative activity and aesthetic pleasure. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University, Consultants Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer afe.easia.columbia.edu/song ]
In the Song period the engagement of the elite with the arts led to extraordinary achievement in calligraphy and painting, especially landscape painting. But even more people were involved as connoisseurs. A large share of the informal social life of upper-class men was centered on these refined pastimes, as they gathered to compose or criticize poetry, to view each other’s treasures, or to patronize young talents.
Patricia Buckley Ebrey of the University of Washington wrote: “During the middle of the Northern Song scholars began to take up painting as one of the arts of the gentleman, viewing it as comparable to poetry and calligraphy as means for self expression. Brushwork in painting, by analogy to brushwork in calligraphy, was believed to express a person's moral character. [Source: Patricia Buckley Ebrey, University of Washington, depts.washington.edu/chinaciv /=]
“The scholars who took up painting generally preferred to use more individualistic and less refined styles of brushwork. These styles were relatively easier to master by those already familiar with the brush from calligraphy, and did not require the years of exacting training needed to succeed as a professional or court artist. /=\
“The eminent poet and statesman Su Shi (1037-1101) explicitly rejected the attempt to capture appearance as beneath the scholar. Paintings should be understated, not flashy. His painting of Rock and Old Tree, executed with a dry brush, exhibits rough qualities and does not aim at pleasure. The painting is more akin to an exercise aiming to improve and develop calligraphic skill than the sorts of paintings done by contemporary court painters. Emphasizing subjectivity, Su Shi said that painting and poetry share a single goal, that of effortless skill. /=\
“Scholar painters were not necessarily amateur painters, and many scholars painted in highly polished styles. This was particularly true in the case of paintings of people and animals, where scholar-painters developed the use of the thin line drawing but did not in any real sense avoid "form likeness" or strive for awkwardness, the way landscapists often did. One of the first literati to excel as a painter of people and animals was Li Konglin in the late Northern Song. A friend of Su Shi and other eminent men of the period, he also painted landscapes and collected both paintings and ancient bronzes and jades. Figures done with a thin line, rather than a modulated one, were considered plainer and more suitable for scholar painters.” /=\
Su Shi (Su Dongpo)—the Quintessential Scholar-Official-Poet
Perhaps the best example of a scholar-official with strong interests in the arts is Su Shi (1036-1101). Su Shi had a long career as a government official in the Northern Song. After performing exceptionally well in the examinations, Su Shi became something of a celebrity. Throughout his life he was a superb and prolific writer of both prose and poetry. Because he took strong stands on many controversial political issues of his day, he got into political trouble several times and was repeatedly banished from the capital. Twice he was exiled for his sharp criticisms of imperial policy. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University, Consultants Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer afe.easia.columbia.edu/song ]
Su was one of the most noted poets of the Northern Song period. According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “Best known as a poet, Su was also an esteemed painter and calligrapher and theorist of the arts. He wrote glowingly of paintings done by scholars, who could imbue their paintings with ideas, making them much better than paintings that merely conveyed outward appearance, the sorts of paintings that professional painters made.”
According to the National Palace Museum, Taipei: Su Shih is probably perhaps best known to Western audiences by his pen name, Su Tung-p'o. Born in 1036, five emperors came to the throne during his lifetime. Eleventh-century China, however, was a period of great political instability. The bitter rivalry between revisionist and conservative factions at court made a political career precarious. For Su Shih, known for his sharp wit and stubborn personality, it was even more difficult. However, the ups and downs of his life and career provided constant inspiration in his art and writing, for which he is so highly regarded by later generations.” It has now been almost 900 years since Su Shih passed away in 1101. Although his writings were once blacklisted, even destroyed, his genius could not be repressed. His poetry and writing have been reprinted, studied, and enjoyed by generations since. [Source: National Palace Museum, Taipei]
Su Shi “holds a particularly revered position in Chinese literary history, and ranks as one of the Four Song Masters in calligraphy, while being the first scholar to create the scholar painting in Chinese painting history. He is one of the most important literary masters in the Northern Song period. Su had a very unstable career as a government official, and was exiled from court that resulted from the Wutai Poem Incident to Huangzhow in the 2nd Year of Yuan Feng (1079). This marked a turning point in his life and work, and the Former and Latter Odes to the Red Cliff were representative works from this period.” [Source: National Palace Museum, Taipei \=/ ] “Traditional critiques of Su Shih's calligraphy indicate that he often held the brush at an angle, producing characters that appeared somewhat abbreviated and thin. However, Su himself once wrote that "Plump and elegant as well as thin and tough (characters) both have their advantages." The characters here appear even and introverted, not abbreviated or unharmonious, making this a masterpiece of Su Shih's calligraphy. \=/
“Su Shih derived considerable joy throughout his life from the literary arts. However, the views that he expressed in his prose and poetry often got him into trouble. Even as an old man, it is said that he was exiled to the most remote southern locale of Hainan simply because of a line of his poetry was construed as mocking an enemy of his. Even in exile, however, Su Shih wrote to keep himself busy. \=/
Enjoying Antiquities by Du Jin
Du Jin (ca. 1465-1509) was a Chinese painter of landscapes, human figures, flowers, and animals during the Ming Dynasty. According to the National Palace Museum, Taipei: “Du Jin felt that with the spirit of “studying antiquity” formed via the close examination of the forms and naming of ancient objects, as well as tracing and unraveling the system of ancient rituals and music, the enjoyment of curios pleasing to the eye could be transformed into a constructive act to lift the spirit, similar to what Confucius once said: “Be fond of antiquity and exert yourself in pursuing it.” In Du Jin’s painting, the scholar with a long beard gazing with a concentrated expression, along with the object he is studying, make this no ordinary painting of the Four Arts (zither, Go, calligraphy, painting) associated with the traditional scholar. Instead, it traces back to the ancient bronzes of the venerated Three Dynasties (Xia, Shang, and Zhou) of high antiquity, expressing the implied meaning behind Du Jin’s special design in the painting. [Source: National Palace Museum, Taipei, npm.gov.tw]
The paining “Enjoying Antiquities” by Du Jin is a hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, measuring 126.1 x 187 centimeters. “A wide assortment of antiques appears on the table in the painting “Enjoying Antiquities.” In addition to the dark green bronzes are white, light green, and crackled glaze porcelains as well as gold-ware decorated with complex patterns. At first glance, each piece seems to find its correlation with historical examples. However, close examination of the antiquities in terms of shape, decorative motif, and composition of the patterning, when compared with actual surviving examples over the ages or those found in ancient catalogues, shows that despite the superficial resemblance of Du Jin’s representations to examples from the Three Periods of High Antiquity (Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties) and the heyday of the Han and Tang dynasties, there are many examples of period style mixed in that do not seem to match. It appears that the forms of these antiquities might have been painted after later imitations or perhaps even rendered by Du Jin based on his understanding of actual objects combined with some imagination and innovation on his part.
““Enjoying Antiquities” is a representative example of Du Jin’s fine-line figure painting that also reflects the fashion for appreciating and judging ancient painting, calligraphy, and antiquities among literati and scholar-officials of the middle and later Ming dynasty. This painting depicts the corner of a garden built along a bank with water in the background. One of the two scholar-official figures is seated before a large ornamental standing screen as he views ancient bronzes and antiquities on the long table while the other carefully studies one of the pieces. To the lower right is a girl attendant holding a fan and playing with butterflies as another in the lower left approaches the scene with a large painting scroll and a “weiqi” (Go) game board. In the upper right are two ladies in a screened enclosure, one unwrapping a zither and the other preparing a incense burner. The furnishings depicted herein are all exquisite and opulent, reflecting the considerable wealth and taste of the host. This, however, was not the main point intended by Du Jin. As inscribed in five lines of elegant script in the upper left corner of the painting, he discusses “Enjoying Antiquities” on a more serious note: Enjoying antiquities was common before, being studied for their high aspiration. By esteeming shapes and providing names, ritual and music are to be found within them. A day without ritual and music, and humanity would fall from grace. To perform and uphold them, this is what I have endeavored. [Signed] Chengju, Du Jin.
Antiques Illustrated in "Enjoying Antiquities": '1) Burner; 2) Bowl; 3) Washer; 4) Jade ornament; 5) Rectangular ding cauldron; 6) Boshan burner; 7) Gold lian container; 8) Hu pot; 9) Li cauldron; 10) Li cauldron; 11) Dou bowl; 12) Burner; 13) Jade bi disc; 14) Beast-shaped burner; 15) Unidentified; 16) Unidentified; 17) Bell; 18) Unidentified
“Comparison of Antiques in the Painting with Extant and Catalogue Examples: 1) Ding-shaped burner with cream-colored glaze, Ge ware porcelain, Southern Song to Yuan dynasties; 5) Rectangular ding cauldron with beast patterns, kui decoration, and flat legs, Bronze, period unknown; 9) Wuyi li cauldron of the Shang Dynasty; 10) Bo li cauldron of the Zhou Dynasty; 11) Dou bowl of the Zhou Dynasty with coiled dragons; 12 Translucent white ding cauldron with kui pattern, Dehua ware porcelain, Ming dynasty; 13) Phoenix-pattern bi disc, Jade, Han dynasty; 17) Dacheng bell, Bronze, Song dynasty. Illustrations from Wang Fu’s Revised Xuanhe Illustrated Studies on Antiquities (Song dynasty).
Elegant Pursuits of "The Eighteen Scholars"
"The Eighteen Scholars" by an anonymous, Ming dynasty artist is a hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, measuring 173.7 x 102.9 centimeters. According to the National Palace Museum, Taipei: Lofty pines rise around a large lake rock standing in a platform planter dotted with red, white, and violet peonies, the flowers and stone competing in splendor. Erudite scholars with a fondness for antiquity are having a literary gathering. One sits on a daybed holding a brush in a pensive manner. Another holds a scroll and looks down intently. Others sit and read on such furniture as a top-rail "lamp-hanger" side chair, mottled bamboo chair, and porcelain stool. Young attendants to their left and right hold books and scrolls, the painting revealing the art of stitch binding and book casing as well as block printing. [Source: National Palace Museum, Taipei, npm.gov.tw]
“In the center is a standing screen of a landscape painting inserted into buttress supports, a large daybed appearing in front of it. The top of the lacquered table is inlaid with variegated marble, while behind the screen is a high-waisted table with arched cusps and cloud veins decorating its legs. The meticulous form of the mottled bamboo chair has an extension joined in front. This type of elegant and ingeniously designed bamboo furniture was much favored by scholars. In the foreground is a stone table, its patterning similar to the mottled bamboo. On it is a potted pine tree and planters for a stone and calamus to the side. A Jun-ware porcelain imitating an ancient bronze was chosen as a planter, its elegant and archaic blue-green coloring adding refinement to the courtyard.
A scholar sits majestically in the center ready to play the zither. On the table is a burner with incense wafting upwards in the form of a crane standing on one leg. With the pine trees, it suggests the expression "pine of long life, crane of longevity." A young attendant prepares a zither in front as others off to the side hold a fan, box, or tea. To the rear are a carved polychrome lacquer box, porcelain tea cups, and a planter of coral. The objects and displays reveal the lofty and elegant leisurely pursuits of scholars.
“The figures are seated around a black-lacquer flush-sided corner-leg table with an inlaid surface of burl wood featuring beautifully exotic patterning. The figure in the middle is seated upright on a daybed, on which is placed a backrest seat with armrest ends curving outwards. The person at the right sits holding a fan on a rose chair with tall armrests and top rail. A spacious footrest extends in front for a light and elegant effect. There are also carved-lacquer and constricted-waist porcelain stools. The former is decorated with ruyi-cloud and geometric designs, while the latter features decorative floral openings and drum-stud patterning. The furniture depicted here all accords with middle and late Ming dynasty styles.
Scholars sit on a carved polychrome lacquer daybed and a porcelain stool. Two of them are playing go as another two look on intently. Two attendants are holding backscratchers and another has a round fan. Behind the figures is a folding eight-panel screen, which can also be used as a windbreak. The screen is painted with a landscape in imitation of the Song dynasty Mi Fu and Mi Youren style as mists pervade the scene and envelope trees, a thatched hut partially visible. Behind the screen is a white marble railing, the panels of which are decorated with prancing dragons among clouds. The square post tops with inverted lotus motifs are typical of Ming court stone carving.
“In the foreground is a foundation stone table filled with tea and wine vessels as well as a container with peaches on ice. One child attendant holds a white heart-décor porcelain pot and pours tea into the cup on a black-lacquered tray held by another. The teapot and bowl are pure white and lustrous, typical of Jiajing (1522-1566) porcelains and afterwards. The gem-inlaid golden tray, cup, and handled pots are also from this period. The vessels and accessories are all displayed with great refinement, reflecting the meticulous appreciation of refined beauty in the life of upper classes in the Ming dynasty.
In the shade of a verdant locust tree stands emerald bamboo and what appears to be a decorative conglomerate stone in a platform planter. The post top of the garden railing features inverted lotus motifs, the intermediary supports carved in the form of a vase and ruyi-and-cloud forms. Typical of the court style, these often appear in the imperial gardens. A scholar holds a flywhisk in his right hand, his left hand resting below. On the table is a bundle of scrolls as he gazes intently at a painting as if about to say something. Another washes his hands and looks back at the painting, while a scholar with his back to the viewer holds a fan. A total of five attendants hold scrolls and the washbasin, one of the two at the right holding a display rod to support the hanging scroll. The "one-corner" composition of the painting within this painting features "axe-cut" texture strokes and applications of ink washes, the rendering for the tree leaves also quick, suggesting the arrangement and brushwork associated with Ming dynasty artists imitating the manner of the Southern Song artist Ma Yuan.
“The furniture in the painting is fine and meticulous. The stretcher-base table with a constricted waist has inward-curling hoof feet on round balls as cloud veins stand out on the legs for a very refined and delicate design. The tabletop is inlaid marble with natural variegated patterning that suggests an ink painting. There is also a rose chair with a footrest stretcher made from delicate pieces of round wood for a very succinct and aesthetic form that represents the refined taste of literati, the design of all the furniture belonging to Ming dynasty styles.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons, National Palace Museum, Taipei
Text Sources: Robert Eno, Indiana University; Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu; University of Washington’s Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization, depts.washington.edu/chinaciv /=\; National Palace Museum, Taipei; Library of Congress; New York Times; Washington Post; Los Angeles Times; China National Tourist Office (CNTO); Xinhua; China.org; China Daily; Japan News; Times of London; National Geographic; The New Yorker; Time; Newsweek; Reuters; Associated Press; Lonely Planet Guides; Compton’s Encyclopedia; Smithsonian magazine; The Guardian; Yomiuri Shimbun; AFP; Wikipedia; BBC. Many sources are cited at the end of the facts for which they are used.
Last updated November 2021