Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stalks of Bamboo by a Rock

This painting, called Stalks of Bamboo by a Rock, was created in the Yuan Dynasty by Wu Zhen () in 1347.  This painting is ink on paper presented as a hanging scroll 2’ 11.5” x 4.375”.  This type of landscape painting reached maturity during the Yuan dynasty because many painters such as Wu Zhen, who studied in the Dong Yuan school of painting, fled to the provinces to avoid service under the Mongols and discovered beautiful landscape as a part of their everyday living.

Wu Zhen works followed the trends of the time focusing less on painting exactly what the eye sees (naturalism) and more the balance of elements in a landscape.  Bamboo represented strength and the ability to bend and adapt to your surroundings.  This is balanced with the rock symbolizing to live on strong foundations that can last.  Finally this is all balanced with the mist symbolizing spirit and fluidity.

Another important aspect of this painting are the red stamps on it.  These stamps are called Colophons and are put there by their owners.  These Colophons are identifying marks put there not only to show the ownership line for the painting but was also regarded as a praise to the artist.   Sometimes the creation of a colophon was even made into an event and celebrated.  The importance of the colophons was to humbly be able to show the heritage of the current owner. 


Chinese art under the Mongols: the Yüan dynasty, 1279-1368 Cleveland: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1968 By Lee, Sherman E. and Ho, Wai-kam


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