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Chinese botanical motifs: orchid

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

orchids, chiense brush painting by shitao

These leaves from Shitao’s album depict orchids, with an accompanying verse on the opposite page. Orchids are a popular subject for brush painting, in part thanks to their simple, rhythmic form. According to the Met’s entry on this object, “the calligraphy of the poem, in the manner of Zhong You, with its softly undulating strokes and gently rising and fading ink tones, simulates the swaying orchid leaves and blossoms.”

The best-known or at least longest-established orchid in China is the cymbidium (lanhua), which is noted more for its fragrance than its floral display. The opening lines of the verse, which quote the Classic of Songs, allude to this:

Words from a sympathetic heart
Are as fragrant as orchids

The orchid is regarded as a symbol of spring, and the verse goes on to develop this association.

Together with the plum, the chrysanthemum , and the bamboo, the orchid is known as one of the “four gentlemen of flowers.”

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The Shimmering of Heated Air

8 January, 2008 (05:00) | 20th c, japan | By: xensen

shimmering of heated air, japanese bamboo basket by shono shounsai

That’s the title of this famous bamboo flower basket by Shono Shounsai.

Flower Basket, Shimmering of Heated Air, approx. 1969, by Shono Shounsai (1904-1974, named Living National Treasure in 1967, Kyushu: active in Shiraki, Oita Prefecture). Bamboo (madake), rattan, and copper alloy. Thousand-line construction. H. 13 3/4 in x Diam. 14 in. Asian Art Museum, Lloyd Cotsen Japanese Bamboo Basket Collection, 2006.3.836 (B-1095). Photograph by Kaz Tsuruta.

From the catalogue Masters of Bamboo. This book is out of stock as I write but will be reprinted soon.

Ancient tomb discovered

12 December, 2007 (05:00) | china, classical | By: xensen

ancient chinese tombA remarkably well-preserved ancient tomb was discovered earlier this month in China’s Hubei Province. In addition to an intact female skeleton, the tomb contained 200 bamboo slips inscribed with ancient Chinese characters packed in a silk bag. According to the slips, the tomb is that of an aristocratic woman named “Hui” who lived during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220).

“Tombs from the Han Dynasty have been found in many places across the country, but it is rare to find such a well-preserved one. This will provide valuable historical data for studies in archaeology, history, zoology, botany and historical textile science,” said Wang Mingqin, head of Jingzhou Museum.

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LINK AND SOURCE OF IMAGE: Ancient bamboo slips reveal tomb owner’s identity

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