Friday, November 02, 2007

The Emperor Ming-huang's Journey to Shu

The five traditional colours in China are white, black, red, yellow and blue-green. These correspond to metal, water, fire, earth and wood. The blue-green colour, qīng (), is discussed in a footnote to John Minford's translation of the Pu Songling story 'The Snake Charmer'. Minford says that qīng is defined in dictionaries as "the colour of nature, a dark neutral tint, green, bluish-green, greenish-blue, blue, grey, black etc... when used of bamboo, hemp, peas, plums, moss, grass, olives, dragons, flies and tea, it is green; of the sky, the collar, orchids and porcelain, it is blue; of oxen and foxes, horses, cloth and hair, it is black." The word qīng is used to describe the moss in Wang Wei's poem 'Deer Park.'

The painter Li Zhaodao (Li Chao-tao) was a contemporary of Wang Wei in early eighth century China. He was one of the originators of the qinglu (blue and green) style of landscape painting, which the JAANUS site describes as 'heavily colored with mineral pigments, especially blue azurite *gunjou 群青 and green malachite *rokushou 緑青' and 'which pays much attention to realistic detail rather than seeking to create an atmospheric impression.' Perhaps the most famous Tang dynasty blue and green landscape is The Emperor Ming-huang's Journey to Shu, a copy of a composition sometimes attributed to Li Zhaodao.

The Emperor Ming-huang's Journey to Shu (copy) attributed to Li Zhaodao
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Nathan said...

I just found your blog and it is really my niche - I wish I had found it awhile ago. I'm mostly a landscape painter/artist and your intellectualism of the subject is intriguing. Keep it up.

Plinius said...

Thanks Nathan - it's kind of a habit now so I guess I will keep going! I like the pictures on your site.