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March 18, 2013
I am embarrassed to so blatantly plagiarize another person’s essay, but so much of what is said here is very close to what I would have said if I had been writing. For reasons unknown (unknowable?) to me the picture of the Emperor Ming Huang’s Journey to Shu is at the end not the beginning. This particular copy of one of the greatest of Tang Dynasty paintings is from the Freer Gallery. For years I had a reproduction hanging on my wall of a copy from the part of the Palace Museum collection which had stayed in Beijing, but unfortunately the print colors were not fast and the sun faded it until it was a poor reproduction of the luxurious original. 

I have written previously of this famous, tragic historical story. So many historical stories that are too-good-to-be-true are not true, but the Emperor Ming Huang really did have to escape to Shu losing his beloved early in the trip. 

I have also written previously about the subtle meaning of the Chinese word for blue-green.

I don’t have all the volumes of “Science and Civilization in China” because it really is expensive, but I do have most of them, as well as the full set of the condensation. Joseph Needham seems almost superhuman, and I enjoyed learning more about him from Simon Winchester, whose other books are also interesting.

[[More than enough for today!]]

« NHK (Part 8) Toward the Valley of the Heavenly Horses (And the infamous Sogdian-Turk who Toppled the Empire) | Main | Last Night the Phone Rang »

May 11, 2008

The Road to Shu 蜀への道

And speaking of the Road to Shu– while I fear my traveling days are behind me (at least for awhile), still I cannot help, in splendid longing, to hope one day to see the Kingdom of Shu.

The Kingdom of Shu.

Divided from the rest of the empire by tall mountains and deep valleys, it has long been a place of exile where emperors and kings sent those in disfavor. Our monk Xuanzang, himself, fled to Chengdu when the Sui dynasty collapsed in 618. Countless many of China’s famed scholar-artists have traveled there as well– either in forced or in self-exile. Living in rustic huts, these scholar-artists composed some of the finest poetry and calligraphy in Chinese history. 

It should come as no surprise, then, that our Tang Emperor would flee West into the mountains of Shu when the time came to escape certain death at the hands of An Lushan and his men.

The Metropolitan Museum has a famous Tang painting called Emperor Xuanzong’s Flight to Shu. Unfortunately, I can’t find an online reproduction. Somehow, though, even without the actual image in front of me, I can still see them there in my mind: the Emperor and his party on the Road to Shu. In what is a Tang processional painting, there is a long line of men on horseback, each carrying banners of the emperor or weapons (swords or bow and arrows)– except for one lonely figure in brilliant crimsome robes. The Emperor. His head is turned back in the direction from which they had just come. Probably trying to get one last glimpse of his beloved– now dead.

Tang poet Bai Juyi (Pai Chu’i 白居易, or HAKURAKUTEN 白楽天) wrote of the Emperor’s tremendous lonliness:

His majesty, covering his face, could not save her,
He turned to look back, his face streaming with blood and tears…
Under Mount Emei, a scattering of marching men,
Flags and banners colorless in the fading sunset

君 王 掩 面 救 不 得。回 看 血 淚 相 和 流。黃 埃 散 漫 風 蕭 索。雲 棧 縈 紆 登劍 閣。 峨 嵋 山 下 少 人 行。旌 旗 無 光 日 色 薄。

Known for its silk broacdes and bamboo products. I think it was the Han Emperor’s man Zhang Qian, who during his miraculous Journey West (even earlier than Xuanzang’s great journey) was stunned to find the products of Shu in the markets of Daxia (the ancient Greek state of Bacrtia). He was baffled to find Chinese products this far West– especially considering the Xiongnu (sometimes perhaps erroneously referred to as the Huns) had placed a huge trade embargo on any movement of goods in the area. How did they get past the barbarians, he wondered?

Well, apprently there was an alternate route (isn’t there always?) west through India.

The Brocades of Shu (蜀錦) have been legendary for 2000 years for their vibrant colors. Shipped far and wide, one of my books has a map showing the route they traveled to market– from Chengdu, they moved east to Chang’an; then from Chang’an west through the Jade Gate (and most probably also east toward Japan). The other “unofficial” route (the one that so intrigued the Han Emperor) was south from Chengdu to Kunming and then straight west into India, moving north to Bactria.

“Green waters and blue mountains– the Road to Shu was hard “

As Shu waters flow green, Shu mountains show blue,
His majesty’s love remained, deeper than the new.
White moon of loneliness, cold moon of exile.
Bell-chimes in evening rain were bronze-edged heartbeats.

蜀江水碧蜀山青, 聖主朝朝暮暮情。 行宮見月傷心色, 夜雨聞鈴腸斷聲。 天旋地轉迴龍馭, 到此躊躇不能去

**

May 12,

The day after I wrote this post, Sichuan was hit by a massive earthquake. A whopping 8 magnitude earthquake, the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake caused 40,000 plus deaths. The images on the news each night of the collapsed schools are heartbreaking.

**

A few days later– with Shu still unshakeably on my mind– I inadvertently purchased my first-ever audio book, The Man Who Loved China. I have long felt a kind of aversion to audio books, but had been debating buying this particular one since I didn’t particularly want to wait for the paperback edition to come out. A few accidental clicks and flicks and it was downloaded before I even realized what was happening… (the story of my life!)

Simon Winchester is a man attracted– it seems– by natural disasters and maverick scholars. His book on the creators of the Oxford English Dictionary is one I have also been meaning to read for years. In fact, I have been meaning to read many of Winchester’s books for years.

For the audio book, the author himself is narrating the story– which if you haven’t heard about it already– is on the life of Joseph Needham, most famous for his monumental Science and Civilization of China series. The many volumes of the series are quoted in so much of everything you read in English about China– they are also incredibly expensive books– all 15 or so volumes.

One reviewer remarked that

“Science and Civilisation in China” is a work so massive and so detailed it is almost impossible to imagine reading all of it, much less writing it, even if it does rank, as Needham biographer Simon Winchester writes in “The Man Who Loved China,” “among the great intellectual accomplishments of all time.”

I’ve only just started listening, but the early part of the story also happens to take place in Sichuan– during the 1940s. This was before Chongqing was the super mega-city it is today. (Chongqing is no longer even part of Sichuan — reporting directly to Beijing like a Province). At the time Needham arrived (traveling to Western China over The Hump from Calcutta), Chongqing was the capital of China– itself in exile. 

It was the city not only of the government-in-exile, but was the place where all the country’s intellectuals, scientists and revolutionaries had fled. It was also where a large portion of the art collection had been hand-carried and then hidden in caves in the surrounding hills. Lying along the Yangzi, the city was known for its spicy food, exquisite brocades and pretty women. It was also known for the hundreds of slimy steps leading up to the city from the river.

Arriving, Needham was in bliss. After nearly half a lifetime of studying all things Chinese (not to mention being deeply in love with a Chinese woman), Needham remarked in his diary during his first few days in Chongqing that,

It was the China of which he dreamed. He stepped of the plane at Kunming’s military airstrip into a crisp early spring afternoon…Everything seems so strangely familiar– after having thought of China for so long. And yet, it is also like a dream.

By the time he reached the ornate buildings of the consulate, he was immediately and uncontrollably happy; everything instantly delightful… 

If you haven’t noticed, this is a love story. Chongqing was (as Barthes wrote about Paris) Adorable– and China was the beloved.

And, being a love affair (because, yes, I believe people can fall in love with places every bit as much as they can with people) the reviewer’s compaint below, I think is unwarranted– indeed, I think what has become known as “Needham’s Grand Question” is the less interesting aspect of the story; indeed the question itself is deeply flawed, I think.

So there is much to learn from “The Man Who Loved China,” an enjoyable, breezy read, well suited for reading on the chaise longue, gin-and-tonic in hand. But there is also a telling, unresolved paradox running through Winchester’s tale. After an early and hugely successful career as a biochemist, capped off by being named a member of the ultra-prestigious Royal Society at the tender age of 41, Needham devoted the remainder of his life to, on the one hand, documenting how technologically far ahead China had been for millennia when compared to the West, and on the other hand, striving to understand why Europe suddenly jumped in front — a monumental tectonic shift that dominates the reality of globalization to this day.

That, again, is “the Needham question,” and the great irony is that despite the 24 volumes, 15,000 pages and 3 million words written by Needham and his collaborators and successors, we still don’t have a satisfactory answer to that question. It could be that very indeterminacy that explains why Winchester devotes far more time to telling us about Needham’s rambunctious, irrepressible love life and his freewheeling socialist politics than he does to teasing out the implications of this central conundrum. If Needham was baffled, what hope for a mere biographer? But that’s a shame, because the Needham question is a challenge that forces all students of China, or, for that matter, students of the history of science, or of history in general, to wrinkle their brow. A truly satisfactory appraisal of Needham’s life would make “the Needham question” a central theme, rather than sequester it off in a few paragraphs in an epilogue.

Couldn’t disagree more.

I haven’t gotten to the end which is where Winchester apparently tries to tackle the Big Question. However, Jonathon Dresner at Frog in a Well explains the hype in his post Needling Needham. You can follow the links if you’re interested. His response to Winchester’s NYT op-ed is short but sweet– in one paragraph he pretty much takes care of the “needling” question—- that is, if one even accepts that the Question (which begs several questions in itself) is a valid one in the first place. See this, for example.

Why didn’t China invent the steam engine? Was China even on that particular technological course? And does scientific development happen in a vacuum anyway? It’s kind of like spending time wondering why Japan isn’t Canada? Yes, expatriats do sit around pondering questions which boil down to just that.

**

The Road to Shu is Hard. Another Tang dynasty poem, it was written by Li Bai (李白). Yes, the road to Shu is hard. It is so today as much as ever it seems. One of my favorite translations of the famous poem is by Vikram Seth. Another version here is also worth looking at.

The Road to Shu is Hard

Ah! it’s fearsome–oh! it’s high!
The Road to Shu is hard, harder than climbing to the sky.
The Kings Can Cong and Yu Fu
Founded long ago the land of Shu
Then for forty-eight thousand years
Nothing linked it to Qin frontiers.
White Star Peak blocked the western way.
A bird tried to cut across Mount Emei–
And only when the earth shook, hills collapsed , and brave 
men died
Did cliff roads and sky-ladders join it to the outside.

噫吁戯危乎高哉   ああ ああ 危ういかな 高いかな、
蜀道之難難於上青天 蜀道の難きは 青天に上るよりも難し、
蠶叢乃魚鳬     蠶叢(さんそう)と魚鳧(ぎょふ)と、
開国何茫然     国を開く 何ぞ茫然たる。
爾来四萬八千歳   爾来 四萬八千歳、
不興秦塞通人煙   秦塞(しんさい)と人煙を通ぜず。
西當太白有鳥道   西のかた 太白に当って鳥道あり、
可以横絶峨眉巓   以て峨眉の巓(いただき)を横絶すべし
地崩山摧壮士死   地は崩れ山は摧(くだ)けて壮士死し、
然後天梯石桟相鉤連 然るのち天梯石桟 相鉤連す。

**

On Green Waters and Blue Mountains (青緑山水)

Finally, before I quit Shu for the night– this is from another blog I stumbled upon explaining the wondrous colors of the Ming dynasty painting at the top of the page. T, who was also quitestruck by the painting, said, “It seems to depicts that preceise moment up on the mountain when Xuanzong lost both his country and his beloved. Gazing at the picture is almost like being able to participate in history itself.” 

More than the painting, I think the famous Ming work of calligraphy (also part of the John B. Elliot Collection) below is unsurpassed in its swiftly descending and wildly commanding strokes for expressing the great emotion of “the moment” when all was lost.

Behold for yourself below:

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 (青), 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.

Photo: I am embarrassed to so blatantly plagiarize another person's essay, but so much of what is said here is very close to what I would have said if I had been writing.  For reasons unknown (unknowable?) to me the picture  of the Emperor Ming Huang's Journey to Shu is at the end not the beginning.  This particular copy of one of the greatest of Tang Dynasty paintings is from the Freer Gallery.  For years I had a reproduction hanging on my wall of a copy from the part of the Palace Museum collection which had stayed in Beijing, but unfortunately the print colors were not fast and the sun faded it until it was a poor reproduction of the luxurious original.  

I have written previously of this famous, tragic historical story.  So many historical stories that are too-good-to-be-true are not true, but the Emperor Ming Huang really did have to escape to Shu losing his beloved early in the trip.  

I have also written previously about the subtle meaning of the Chinese word for blue-green.

I don't have all the volumes of "Science and Civilization in China" because it really is expensive, but I do have most of them, as well as the full set of the condensation.  Joseph Needham seems almost superhuman, and I enjoyed learning more about him from Simon Winchester, whose other books are also interesting.

[[More than enough for today!]]



« NHK (Part 8) Toward the Valley of the Heavenly Horses (And the infamous Sogdian-Turk who Toppled the Empire) | Main | Last Night the Phone Rang »

May 11, 2008

The Road to Shu 蜀への道



And speaking of the Road to Shu-- while I fear my traveling days are behind me (at least for awhile), still I cannot help, in splendid longing, to hope one day to see the Kingdom of Shu.

The Kingdom of Shu.

Divided from the rest of the empire by  tall mountains and deep valleys, it has long been a place of exile where emperors and kings sent those in disfavor. Our monk Xuanzang, himself, fled to Chengdu when the Sui dynasty collapsed in 618. Countless many of China's famed scholar-artists have traveled there as well-- either in forced or in self-exile. Living in rustic huts, these scholar-artists composed some of the finest poetry and calligraphy in Chinese history. 

It should come as no surprise, then, that our Tang Emperor would flee West into the mountains of Shu when the time came to escape certain death at the hands of An Lushan and his men.

The Metropolitan Museum has a famous Tang painting called Emperor Xuanzong's Flight to Shu. Unfortunately, I can't find an online reproduction. Somehow, though, even without the actual image in front of me, I can still see them there in my mind: the Emperor and his party on the Road to Shu. In what is a Tang processional painting, there is a long line of men on horseback, each carrying banners of the emperor or weapons (swords or bow and arrows)-- except for one lonely figure in brilliant crimsome robes. The Emperor. His head is turned back in the direction from which they had just come. Probably trying to get one last glimpse of his beloved-- now dead.

Tang poet Bai Juyi (Pai Chu'i 白居易, or HAKURAKUTEN 白楽天) wrote of the Emperor's tremendous lonliness:

His majesty, covering his face, could not save her,
He turned to look back, his face streaming with blood and tears...
Under Mount Emei, a scattering of marching men,
Flags and banners colorless in the fading sunset

君 王 掩 面 救 不 得。回 看 血 淚 相 和 流。黃 埃 散 漫 風 蕭 索。雲 棧 縈 紆 登劍 閣。 峨 嵋 山 下 少 人 行。旌 旗 無 光 日 色 薄。

Known for its silk broacdes and bamboo products. I think it was the Han Emperor's man Zhang Qian, who during his miraculous Journey West (even earlier than Xuanzang's great journey) was stunned to find the products of Shu in the markets of Daxia (the ancient Greek state of Bacrtia). He was baffled to find Chinese products this far West-- especially considering the Xiongnu (sometimes perhaps erroneously referred to as the Huns) had placed a huge trade embargo on any movement of goods in the area. How did they get past the barbarians, he wondered?

Well, apprently there was an alternate route (isn't there always?) west through India.

The Brocades of Shu (蜀錦) have been legendary for 2000 years for their vibrant colors. Shipped far and wide, one of my books has a map showing the route they traveled to market-- from Chengdu, they moved east to Chang'an; then from Chang'an west through the Jade Gate (and most probably also east toward Japan). The other "unofficial" route (the one that so intrigued the Han Emperor) was south from Chengdu to Kunming and then straight west into India, moving north to Bactria.

"Green waters and blue mountains-- the Road to Shu was hard "

As Shu waters flow green, Shu mountains show blue,
His majesty's love remained, deeper than the new.
White moon of loneliness, cold moon of exile.
Bell-chimes in evening rain were bronze-edged heartbeats.

蜀江水碧蜀山青, 聖主朝朝暮暮情。 行宮見月傷心色, 夜雨聞鈴腸斷聲。 天旋地轉迴龍馭, 到此躊躇不能去

**

May 12,

The day after I wrote this post, Sichuan was hit by a massive earthquake. A whopping 8 magnitude earthquake, the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake caused 40,000 plus deaths. The images on the news each night of the collapsed schools are heartbreaking.

**

A few days later-- with Shu still unshakeably on my mind-- I inadvertently purchased my first-ever audio book, The Man Who Loved China. I have long felt a kind of aversion to audio books, but had been debating buying this particular one since I didn't particularly want to wait for the paperback edition to come out. A few accidental clicks and flicks and it was downloaded before I even realized what was happening... (the story of my life!)

Simon Winchester is a man attracted-- it seems-- by natural disasters and maverick scholars. His book on the creators of the Oxford  English Dictionary is one I have also been meaning to read for years. In fact, I have been meaning to read many of Winchester's books for years.

For the audio book, the author himself is narrating the story-- which if you haven't heard about it already-- is on the life of Joseph Needham, most famous for his monumental Science and Civilization of China series. The many volumes of the series are quoted in so much of everything you read in English about China-- they are also incredibly expensive books-- all 15 or so volumes.

One reviewer remarked that

"Science and Civilisation in China" is a work so massive and so detailed it is almost impossible to imagine reading all of it, much less writing it, even if it does rank, as Needham biographer Simon Winchester writes in "The Man Who Loved China," "among the great intellectual accomplishments of all time."

I've only just started listening, but the early part of the story also happens to take place in Sichuan-- during the 1940s. This was before Chongqing was the super mega-city it is today. (Chongqing is no longer even part of Sichuan -- reporting directly to Beijing like a Province). At the time Needham arrived (traveling to Western China over The Hump from Calcutta), Chongqing was the capital of China-- itself in exile.  

It was the city not only of the government-in-exile, but was the place where all the country's intellectuals, scientists and revolutionaries had fled. It was also where a large portion of the art collection had been hand-carried and then hidden in caves in the surrounding hills. Lying along the Yangzi, the city was known for its spicy food, exquisite brocades and pretty women. It was also known for the hundreds of slimy steps leading up to the city from the river.

Arriving, Needham was in bliss. After nearly half a lifetime of studying all things Chinese (not to mention being deeply in love with a Chinese woman), Needham remarked in his diary during his first few days in Chongqing that,

It was the China of which he dreamed. He stepped of the plane at Kunming's military airstrip into a crisp early spring afternoon...Everything seems so strangely familiar-- after having thought of China for so long. And yet, it is also like a dream.

By the time he reached the ornate buildings of the consulate, he was immediately and uncontrollably happy; everything instantly delightful... 

If you haven't noticed, this is a love story. Chongqing was (as Barthes wrote about Paris) Adorable-- and China was the beloved.

And, being a love affair (because, yes, I believe people can fall in love with places every bit as much as they can with people) the reviewer's compaint below, I think is unwarranted-- indeed, I think what has become known as "Needham's Grand Question" is the less interesting aspect of the story; indeed the question itself is deeply flawed, I think.

So there is much to learn from "The Man Who Loved China," an enjoyable, breezy read, well suited for reading on the chaise longue, gin-and-tonic in hand. But there is also a telling, unresolved paradox running through Winchester's tale. After an early and hugely successful career as a biochemist, capped off by being named a member of the ultra-prestigious Royal Society at the tender age of 41, Needham devoted the remainder of his life to, on the one hand, documenting how technologically far ahead China had been for millennia when compared to the West, and on the other hand, striving to understand why Europe suddenly jumped in front -- a monumental tectonic shift that dominates the reality of globalization to this day.

That, again, is "the Needham question," and the great irony is that despite the 24 volumes, 15,000 pages and 3 million words written by Needham and his collaborators and successors, we still don't have a satisfactory answer to that question. It could be that very indeterminacy that explains why Winchester devotes far more time to telling us about Needham's rambunctious, irrepressible love life and his freewheeling socialist politics than he does to teasing out the implications of this central conundrum. If Needham was baffled, what hope for a mere biographer? But that's a shame, because the Needham question is a challenge that forces all students of China, or, for that matter, students of the history of science, or of history in general, to wrinkle their brow. A truly satisfactory appraisal of Needham's life would make "the Needham question" a central theme, rather than sequester it off in a few paragraphs in an epilogue.

Couldn't disagree more.

I haven't gotten to the end which is where Winchester apparently tries to tackle the Big Question. However, Jonathon Dresner at Frog in a Well explains the hype in his post Needling Needham. You can follow the links if you're interested. His response to Winchester's NYT op-ed is short but sweet-- in one paragraph he pretty much takes care of the "needling" question---- that is, if one even accepts that the Question (which begs several questions in itself) is a valid one in the first place. See this, for example.

Why didn't China invent the steam engine? Was China even on that particular technological course? And does scientific development happen in a vacuum anyway? It's kind of like spending time wondering why Japan isn't Canada? Yes, expatriats do sit around pondering questions which boil down to just that.

**

The Road to Shu is Hard. Another Tang dynasty poem, it was written by Li Bai (李白). Yes, the road to Shu is hard. It is so today as much as ever it seems. One of my favorite translations of the famous poem is by Vikram Seth. Another version  here is also worth looking at.

The Road to Shu is Hard

Ah! it's fearsome--oh! it's high!
The Road to Shu is hard, harder than climbing to the sky.
The Kings Can Cong and Yu Fu
Founded long ago the land of Shu
Then for forty-eight thousand years
Nothing linked it to Qin frontiers.
White Star Peak blocked the western way.
A bird tried to cut across Mount Emei--
And only when the earth shook, hills collapsed , and brave 
                                  men died
Did cliff roads and sky-ladders join it to the outside.

噫吁戯危乎高哉   ああ ああ 危ういかな 高いかな、
蜀道之難難於上青天 蜀道の難きは 青天に上るよりも難し、
蠶叢乃魚鳬     蠶叢(さんそう)と魚鳧(ぎょふ)と、
開国何茫然     国を開く 何ぞ茫然たる。
爾来四萬八千歳   爾来 四萬八千歳、
不興秦塞通人煙   秦塞(しんさい)と人煙を通ぜず。
西當太白有鳥道   西のかた 太白に当って鳥道あり、
可以横絶峨眉巓   以て峨眉の巓(いただき)を横絶すべし
地崩山摧壮士死   地は崩れ山は摧(くだ)けて壮士死し、
然後天梯石桟相鉤連 然るのち天梯石桟 相鉤連す。

**

On Green Waters and Blue Mountains (青緑山水)

Finally, before I quit Shu for the night-- this is from another blog I stumbled upon explaining the wondrous colors of the Ming dynasty painting at the top of the page. T, who was also quitestruck by the painting, said, "It seems to depicts that preceise moment up on the mountain when Xuanzong lost both his country and his beloved. Gazing at the picture is almost like being able to participate in history itself."   

More than the painting, I think the famous Ming work of calligraphy (also part of the John B. Elliot Collection) below is unsurpassed in its swiftly descending and wildly commanding strokes for expressing the great emotion of "the moment" when all was lost.

Behold for yourself below:


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 (青), 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.
 
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2 Comments
  1. Prof. Palmer, just wanted to let you know that I have 2 prints depicting Emperor Xianzong’s Flight to Shu. I can’t upload them here so email me.

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