Themes

“Can one drink a cup of nothing (能饮一杯无)?– Bai Juyi (白居易) (772846 AD)

 

The above is a hand-scroll based on a standard theme, “The Eight Views of Xiao and Xiang 《潇湘八景》”, executed in a style reminiscent of the monk-painter Muxi. This is a canonical collection of eight distinct scenes compiled circa. the 10th Century. The scenes are as follows (from right to left):

  • River skies and evening snow 《江天暮雪
  • The autumn moon over Dongting 洞庭秋月
  • Rain at night on the rivers Xiao and Xiang 潇湘夜雨
  • Fishing village at half-light 渔村夕照
  • Mist-shrouded tolling of temple bells at dusk 烟寺晚钟
  • Geese descending on a level sandbank 平沙落雁
  • Returning sails upon a distant estuary 远浦归帆
  • Mountain market in clear mist 山市晴岚

It is conventional to depict the scenes both as a set or individually. It is my view that the above has a claim to being a pure distillation of both the technical austerity as well as the stylistic poise which distinguishes the paintings of the 11 to the 1400s.