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Chinese botanical motifs: peanut

4 March, 2008 (05:00) | china, modern, paintings | By: xensen

chinese painting, peanut

This late eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century painting by an anonymous Chinese artist is in the collections of the V&A in London. According to the V&A entry,it was probably commissioned from a Chinese artist by a European botanist, and it does have something of the precise quality of a European botanical painting. At the same time, it does not quite have a European sense of perspective.

In the Chinese tradition the peanut plant is associated with longevity. Its name, changsheng guo, sounds like the words for “Live forever and never grow old” (changsheng bulao). Moreover, the plant’s extensive root system suggests an impulse to survival. Eating the peanut fruit was thought to improve longevity.