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CLP 63: 1968 “Away from a Definition of Yuan Painting.” Yuan art Symposium, Cleveland Art Museum

Yüan Art Symposium

 

The Cleveland Museum of Art October 11 and 12, 1968

PARTICIPANTS

Professor Theodore Bowie Department of Fine Arts Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana

 

Emma C. Bunker,              Research Associate

Oriental Department

The Denver Art Museum

West Fourteenth and Acoma Streets

Denver, Colorado 80201

Professor James Cahill, Department of Art University of California Berkeley, California 94720

Anne Clapp

c/o Oriental Department

Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

Richard Cleveland

Assistant Curator of Oriental Art City Art Museum, Forest Park St. Louis, Missouri 63105

John Crawford

46 East 82nd Street

New York, New York 10028

Jean-Pierre Dubosc

7 bis rue des Saints Peres VIe

Paris, France

 

Mrs. Betty Tseng Yu-ho Ecke,        39 East 78th Street, Apt. 5E New York, New York 10021

Professor Richard Edwards,  Department of the History of Art University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

Mr. and Mrs. Myron Falk

17 East 66th Street

New York, New York 10021

Professor Wen Fong,  Department of Art History Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey 08540

 

Mrs. Joan Hartman

1070 Park Avenue, Apt. 14D

New York, New York 10028

Professor John Haskins          Henry Clay Frick Fine Arts Dept. University of Pittsburgh   Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213

Cheng Hsi

Center for Far Eastern Studies     The University of Iowa           Iowa City,Iowa 52240

Miss Hisako Isono

Japan Art Service Co., Ltd.

2-40 Jinbo-cho, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku

Tokyo, Japan

 

Thomas Lawton

Associate Curator of Chinese Are Freer Gallery of Art Smithsonian Institute Washington, D. C. 10560

George Lee

Yale University Art Gallery

1111 Chapel Street

Box 2006, Yale Station

New Haven, Connecticut 06520

Sammy Lee

12-1 Minami Aoyama 6-chome    Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Professor Chu-tsing Li Professor of Art University of Kansas Lawrence, Kansas 66044

Professor Max Loehr

Department of Oriental Art

Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University

Quincy Street at Broadway

Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

Fritz Low-Beer

300 Central Park West

New York, New York 10024

Miss Jean Mailey, Associate Curator Textiles Department              The Metropolitan Museum of Art     New York, New York 10028

Mr. Peter Swann, Director

Royal Ontario Museum, Univ. of Toronto

100 Queen's Park

Toronto 5, Ontario, Canada

 

Frederick Mayer

300 Central Park West

New York, New York 10024

Miss Margaret Medley, Curator      Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art 53 Gordon Square London, W,C.  1, England

Mrs, A. Dean Perry       14607 Shaker Boulevard Shaker Heights, Ohio 44120

Professor and Mrs. Robert Poor Department of Art University of Minnesota Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455

Dr. Beatrix von Rague, Director Ostasiatische Kunstabteilung (Staatliche

Museen), Jebensstrasse 2 1 Berlin 12, Germany

Mrs. James Rorimer

100 Park Avenue

New York, New York 10028

 

Dr. Hsio-Yen Shih

Far Eastern Department

Royal Ontario Museum, Univ. of Toronto

100 Queen's Park

Toronto 5, Ontario, Canada

Professor Shujiro Shimada        Department of Art and Archaeology       305 McCormick Hall Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey 08540

Professor A. C. Soper

Institute of Fine Arts

New York University

1 East 78th Street

New York, New York 10021

Professor Michael Sullivan Department of Art and Architectur Stanford University Stanford, California 94305

Professor Kei Suzuki

The Institute of Oriental Culture

Tokyo University

Tokyo, Japan

 

Teisuke Toda

The Institute of Art Research    12-53 Ueno Park, Taito-ku Tokyo, Japan

 

Father Harrie Vanderstappen Department of Art                 The University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois 61637

Mr. C. C. Wang

190 East 72nd Street, Apt. 2-C       New York, New York 10021

 

Dr. Gordon Washburn, Director

The Asia Society

112 East 64th Street

New York, New York 10021

Akiyoshi Watanabe    Tokyo National Museum Tokyo, Japan

Marc Wilson

Nelson-Atkins Gallery

4525 Oak Street

Kansas City, Missouri 64111

Professor Nelson Wu Department of Art History Washington University St. Louis, Missouri 63130

Tung Wu

University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan

 

 

CLEVELAND MUSEUM STAFF

 

Wai-kam Ho, Curator of Chinese Art

Dr. James R. Johnson, Curator of Art History and Education

 

Dr. Sherman E. Lee, Director

 

Martin Lerner, Assistant Curator of Oriental Art

Miss Janet Moore, Assoc. Curator of Art History and Education

Yüan Painting

 

KEI SUZUKI Tokyo University

 

Some time ago, I published an article about the Li Ch'eng and Kuo Hsi School painting of the Yuan Dynasty,in which I tried to shed light upon one aspect of the style of Yüan landscape painting. In writing the article,I was indebted very much to my friend, Mr. Chu-tsing Li, namely for his article on Chao Meng-fu's scroll painting, Autumn Color on the Ch'ao and Hua Mountains.  However, in my article, I have suggested problems that we have to think about,  instead of coming to a conclusion immediately. At this symposium, I would like to emphasize these problems again, especially in the field of landscape painting, and it would also be my pleasure to present them for our discussion here.

 

As in studying paintings of any other period, first of all, we have to examine thoroughly the objects of Yüan Dynasty. In other words, as long as the problem of authenticity of paintings themselves remains unsolved, we should urgently direct our attention to this. Furthermore, we are always confronted with many difficulties in seeking a style of this period from a chaotic variety of artistic expression within it.  And, our attempts are always hampered by exceptions.  In terms of cause-and-effect, we have to think about influences that one style exerts on another in a later time. So, it is pretty hard to reach a persuasive conclusion.

 

As to the paintings of Yuan Dynasty, in particular, it is especially difficult to find characteristics common to this period, when compared to those of the Southern Sung Court paintings. There might be nothing difficult, if I could merely depend upon biographical studies of each painter, or upon simple accumulation of appreciation of each work. It may be possible to get a clearer answer, if we elect to track down the artistic activities and the creative ideas of both; wen-jen painters, and the professional painters outside of governmental service, in the peculiar milieu of the Yüan Dynasty, that is, Mongolian rule over the Chinese people.  It may be true that certain painters were obliged to adopt a certain subject-matter in such a situation, but, otherwise, political and social conditions exerted no influence on the field of painting, nor on the selection of style and technique, which, as a whole, compose the beauty of visual arts. It was in the Chiang-nan area that the main activities of the Yüan painters were centered. However, as there is a dearth of the research in this field, it is of little help to approach it from the viewpoint of regional studies.

Of course, there is a traditional way of interpretation for Yüan paintings tracing their main current from Chao Meng-fu and Kao K'o-kung to the Four Great Masters of the late Yüan period.    This current starts from Tung Yüan, Chu-jan and Mi Fei in the Northern Sung period, then links to the so-called Wu school during the Ming Dynasty, and also has been explained as the process of the self-contained development of Southern school. This traditional interpretation is still predominant even today, and it is true that the appearance of these masters to whom I referred just now, defines characteristics of one period. However, here, we are very much concerned about the influence of these masters. In other words, the problems are: “How great are they?”  “What style do they have”?  “Which other artists were influenced by them?” and "How widely has their influence been extended?"

I myself cannot discover such great artistic individuality throughout the history of Yüan painting, nor a single painter who exerted wide-ranging influence. But, I would like to regard the Yüan period, in terms of artistic activities, as a transitional period. This is a period in which artists adopted the style of the preceding periods, though not in a we11-arranged way, then paved the way for the artistic style of the following periods.  Therefore, I would rather not use the collective term, Sung-Yuan painting, either in the Japanese or Chinese sense. Like the Yüan literature which preluded the Ming period, the painting also has a great deal of affinity to Ming and Ch'ing painting. I think that we need to make a distinct break between Sung and Yüan.

Naturally, exceptions exist as I mentioned before, but such exceptions are not unusual in each period. There may have been many painters during the Northern Sung period, other than Li Ch'eng, Fan Kuan, Tung Yüan, Chü-jan, and so were there during the Southern Sung period,  other than Ma Yuan and Hsia Kuei. But, the leading style of the Northern Sung can be said to belong to the school of Li Ch'eng and Fan Kuan and that of the Southern Sung to the Ma Hsia school.  However, during the Yüan period, each painter did not necessarily follow in the wake of those masters. In other words, the traditional style was not a leading one.

 

The first problem in studying the paintings of the Yüan period is the social status of painters.    Their social status possibly exerted an influence on their choice of artistic style. In the Mongolian court, there seems to have been no counterpart to the Court Academy, and there existed only a minor section which was equivalent to the Wen-ssu-yuan of the official work-shop. The painters who belonged to this department were probably only in charge of painting the interior decoration of architecture. Therefore, unlike the preceding Sung and the following Ming Dynasties, we do not have to pay attention to the professional painters in the official service.

 

Besides the above-mentioned group, there were two other kinds of painters, i.e., those who were entirely independent, and those who belonged to the group of artisans, which was called "hua-hang," the system of which was rather close to the guild system of medieval Europe.  The former kind can be exemplified by Sheng Mao, and the latter will be, for instance, represented by a group of Buddhist painters in Chekiang Province whose activities were centered at the city of Ning-pao, or maybe another group at Hsi-an who were active in executing the mural paintings at the Yung-lo-kung Temple.

Fortunately, since works of these groups of painter-artisans are surviving in considerable numbers, they provide us with important materials when we consider the history of Yüan painting. From these sources, we may be able to obtain an answer to such problems as the chronology, the classification of painters, and many other unsolved problems.

The independent artists are the literati, namely, the so-called Wen-jen painters. The priest painters who were active in the Zen clergy are also to be considered in this group. Some of these independent artists may have served at one time or another in government office, while some remained free, but this distinction seems to be of no avail in understanding the style of Wen-jen paintings. Personally, I guess that it was during this period that the artistic activities of the literati, including the Zen priest-painters, were changed from their leisurely accomplishments to a type of profession. The names in this category of painters appear frequently in anthologies of poems many of which were dedicated to paintings, but their biographies are mostly unknown to us. The phenomenon occurred pari passu in the field of the playwright. So, they, too, have gradually migrated from the professional to the Wen-jen or literati circle, and towards the end of this period, there became no distinction between the professional writers and the non-professional literati. Thus, the unity between the Wen-jen and professional painters reached the most conspicuous stage in the history of Chinese painting.

 

Chinese painting, by its nature, depends deeply on tradition, because the mastery of drawing requires a good deal of training, just like that of calligraphy, and the training itself means copying or imitating the preceding masters' works. Therefore, both professional and literati painters were exposed to a direct influence from the style of preceding periods. This is especially true in the groups of artisan-painters, hua-hang, as it; is proved by their extant works.

 

What the professional painters adopted were the complex styles of the Southern Sung Academy and Buddhist painting that had existed in Chekiang district. This complexity which we cannot easily define may be a property of Yüan painting. I have pointed out in my study on the history of the Ming painting of the Che School, that most of Buddhist painting in the Chekiang district was influenced by various kinds of predecessors, including the style of Northern Sung painting.   As Mr. Chu-tsing Li has already pointed out, most of Wen-jen painters were also affected by the influence of Northern Sung painting, roughly speaking, the brush-manner and spirit of Li Ch'eng and Kuo Hsi, Tung Yuan and Chü-jan, Mi Fei, and Fan Kuan, and we can also add Wang Wei of the T'ang Dynasty as their teacher. Whether consciously or not, they have picked up the techniques and styles of the Southern Sung Court painters. But, what the literati painters aimed consciously at, is the pictorial style of the Northern Sung, in order to surpass the formalism of the Southern Sung professional painters.

It may be an oversimplification to say that the literati painters had left aside the professional painters of the Southern Sung and directly gone back to those of the Northern Sung. The actuality does not seem to be so simple.  Probably, we have to recognize Yüan painting as a result of a dialectical or synthetic development between the Northern and Southern Sung styles.

 

Li Ch'eng, Kuo Hsi. Ma Yuan, Hsia Kuei, and other masters, each respectively conceived different views of Nature, in composition, ways of perspective expression, and brush-manner. By their nature, it must be impossible to compound one with another, and the content of each also manifests itself differently. If a student of Chinese painting carelessly picks up only one technique from each master, the result will lead him to unavoidable confusion.

 

The ultimate goal of Chinese landscape painting, in a word, is a clear representation of natural beauty, on the surface of the picture-plane.  Many of Kuo Hsi's words concern the forms of natural beauty and the meaning of the contexts of these forms on the picture-surface. Kuo Hsi himself considered landscape painting as a purely abstract and ideally composed form of natural beauty.  He knew the best means to produce this ideal beauty, as the works attributed to him indicate, and these reveal to us that he is a genius most skillful in integrating existing styles. This does not necessarily mean a careless juxtaposition of different elements within one picture-plane, His perspective and composition, for instance, are different from those of Li Ch'eng and Fan Kuan. The same thing can be applied to the brush-manner.  Kuo Hsi's landscape painting expresses a harmonious integration of these two predecessors, because his underlying naturalism is clearly in control.

 

Now, we have to observe what styles the Yüan painters adopted, and from where those styles derived.  One can find various elements in Yüan paintings; for examples, Li Ch'eng compositions and Fan Kuan compositions were both employed, and, furthermore, the diagonal composition of the Southern Sung Court paintings made frequent appearances. By comparison, Kuo Hsi had achieved a harmonious integration in his works, as I have mentioned before, and Yüan painters have adopted one part or another of Li Ch-eng and Fan Kuan's styles. From the Yüan painters' works, we find no such an integration. Because they have misinterpreted the meaning of Li Ch'eng's expression of infinite distance, and Fan Kuan's intent to express the overwhelming volume of the central mountain and the enormous space.  Also, while adopting the diagonal composition of the Southern Sung Court paintings, Yuan painters have lost the original effect of making the allusive usage of large blank space to evoke a poetic mood for the viewer. In the composition of Yüan painting, this blank space is filled with the description of middle-ground and of back-ground, by which the viewer's imagination is controlled or limited, and as a result, it becomes a monotonous plane. At any rate, it can be said that the real meaning of Li Ch'eng's and Fan Kuan's paintings seem not to have been understood by Yüan painters.

 

The second aspect of Yüan paintings will be the inconsistency of the composition and brush techniques. For instance, Li and Kuo’s Northern Sung compos it ions are sometimes presented by Mi Fei's brush-strokes or by p'i-ma-ts'un, a common ts'un-like spread out hemp texture also used for terrain of slight relief, or also by chieh-so-ts'un, ts'un-like raveled rope.  At any rate, the Northern Sung style of landscape, now detached from its local climate, reached an extreme during the Yuan period. That is, it formed a fictitious landscape and eventually was considered as a kind of "subjective landscape."  As another example, the "crab-claw" brush-strokes applied when describing clusters of dead trees that are typical of Northern China were applied in Tung Yuan and Chü-jan's compositions which were originated in Southern China. In a sense, this tendency can be thought of as a freedom from a topographical viewpoint, but it is also a result of the improvident mixture of different styles from the preceding periods.

This consuming interest in traditional styles, and their chaotic adoption, resulted in distracting the painters' attention from the feelings of atmosphere, light and humidity in nature.  The desire for a naturalistic representation started to be replaced by another tendency, that is, to re-establish the beauty of nature within a picture-plane, in a purely visual form by means of ink, brush and other factors.  Although color was introduced into landscape painting after the middle of the Ming Dynasty, in the Yüan period, the transitional stage, brush and ink were used increasingly to intensify the viewer's visual impressions.

 

When we try to grasp the general character of Yüan painting, especially in the field of landscape, we can not avoid thinking of it as a revival of Northern Sung style.  However, I myself regard this period as a revolutionary period of aesthetic ideas in painting. The change was so great that I feel it was almost a kind of chaos.

 

During the Yüan period, unlike the following Ming period, it is very rare to find works, "Fang so-and-so" or "Mo so-and so's pi-i," which literally mean "imitating such-and-such master" and "copying such-and-such master's brush-spirit."  But, in actuality, the artistic activities of this period were nothing but Mo, or copying, Fang, or imitating, or, Hsueh or learning the old masters' brush manners. For instance, among very few art critics of this period, Yao Tzu-jan's essay "Hui ts'ung shih-er Ch'i that is "Painting must respect twelve taboos," or Huang Kung-wang's theory "Hsieh San-sui Chüeh," or literally "The principle of painting landscape," none can be compared to the lofty ideas of artistic creation which have been described by Kuo Hsi in his "Lin Ch'uan Kao-chih."  The tradition of naturalistic representation of the Sung period was fading. The artists of the Yuan Dynasty pursued an ideal form of mountain, in a subjective way. This is so-called "Hsiung-chung-shan," which means "mountains cherished in one's heart (mind)," and this type of subjective landscape misses verisimilitude in its outlook.  Thanks to this tendency, the direction of development had been predestined for the Ming Dynasty, towards the expression of the artists' imaginative ideas about landscape.

The extremely detailed description and scrupulous attention in techniques were no more than an effort to make imaginative landscape more real and more verisimilar.  Therefore, their paintings are deficient in that inaccessible grandeur found in the Northern Sung landscape; also they lack the close intimacy of the Southern Sung Court landscape, which make viewers share the feelings of the heroes in the picture.  As for human figures in the landscape, Northern Sung landscape shows up the contrast between the diminutive existence of men and the grandeur of nature. This implies the concept of man's awe of mysterious nature, and its freedom from worldly affairs, whereas in Southern Sung painting the size of the human figure is enlarged, as he bears a role of medium, through whom the viewers can enter into the scene' psychologically. In a Yüan painting, however, human figures, in terms of their position and movement, do not have any significant position, and sometimes have no meaning at all in the landscape scene. During the preceding periods it had been very clear what an artist wanted to express, and in order to express a certain content, a proper style had been employed.  But in many Yüan paintings, as I have mentioned before, it is very difficult to recognize the intention of their expression.  Ni Ts'an, for example, painted his landscape paintings for his own sake, and he required that his paintings be understood only among a limited number of people within a small group.

 

This fact is also true of the literati painters of the Wu school during the middle Ming period. It can be said that these people were too radical in their quest for an ideal world.  But, why did the Yüan masters seek an ideal in a mixture of conventional styles?

 

I think that all the technical aspects of representation in Chinese painting, for instance, perspective, expression of space, brush-manner and the use of ink, expression of rhythm and movement, and others, had been already achieved by the end of the Sung period.  There was nothing new to be exploited by Yüan masters. What they had to do,  in these circumstances, was simply to master the traditional styles and techniques, and only a genius could establish his own style, Huang Kung-wang discussed Tung Yuan, Li Ch'eng and Kuo Hsi by the same criterion, in his treatise and extracted from these masters a pattern that the students of painting should learn.  This seems to indicate the general attitude of artists in this period.

 

One of the big problems of Yuan paintings is, therefore, a contradiction or inconsistency within one picture-plane, which occurs as a result of eclecticism. In order to make up this weakness, a new theory was born.

From all the reasons I have mentioned so far, I want to regard the Yüan Dynasty, especially in terms of landscape painting, as an experimental stage, or, as it were, a period of development and formation.

 

If I can be a little more conclusive, it can be said that the landscape painting of this period expressed the painter's image of Nature.  This tendency is anti-naturalistic rather than naturalistic, and bears always a fictional quality.  The desire to make an idealized form based upon naturalism, which was the tradition of landscape painting since the Sung period, was getting weak, and instead, the inclination towards an imaginary world was so strong that they could not afford to examine thoroughly the variety of styles from which they were able to choose. For example, Wang Meng's landscape painting shows an almost unreal nature, rather than a representation of natural scenery or just a transformation of an idealization, and in some parts it emphasizes the massive feeling of Northern, mountains while in some other parts an atmospheric mood which was derived from the Southern Sung.  Also in some parts, it puts a stress upon an intensity of visual impression by a flat composition, Wang Meng applies the p'i-ma-ts'un, the brush-touch like spread out hemp fibers, which, however, originally had not been a way to express a passionate quality, but in Wang Meng's case, with his fast stroke and repetition of this ts'un,it makes a strong impression on the viewer. In other words, this kind of change in the meaning of brush stroke or touch indicates that brush-work was no longer only a means of expression, but also of itself, the end of expression.  Some works of painting which have been attributed to Wu Chen deal with the moist climate of Chiang-nan as the subject matter, but the way of expression is very dry, because it is so transparent that the paintings lose the humid feeling that is proper to the Chiang-nan's nature. Some of his works pursue purely formative elements, i.e., rhythm and movement, as in a modern painting. In some cases, this painter seems to have concentrated on the use of ink.

 

From this point of view, landscape painting of Yüan Dynasty provides a turning point and it links up with the establishment the Che and Wu schools in the later period, and

as I pointed out at the beginning of my speech, it seems not right to apply a collective term to Sung and Yüan painting together.

 

Nevertheless, even though we can regard the Yuan period as the formative and transitional stage, it is still open to question whether or not Yuan painters forsook the principles of clear composition and perspective.

 

I would like to apologize that my speech has been very discursive and prosaic, and in some parts, I am afraid that what I wanted to say may be unclear. I hope you understand that I wish to raise questions for all of you.

 

********

 

PAINTING DISCUSSION

George Lee:    In view of Chao Meng-fu's enthusiasm for antiquity, and reminded by the Ch'ien Hsüan landscape at the beginning of this exhibition, should we not also consider the interest of the Yüan artists in antiquity before the Sung Dynasty?

Kei Suzuki (interpreter James Cahill):    Yes, absolutely. From the early part of

Southern Sung, the practice of imitating pre-Sung paintings was invoked, so it isn't something new in Yüan.

 

Sherman Lee:    You mentioned the importance of Southern Sung composition despite the

traditional view that it is not important, and mentioned that the type of diagonal composition included space filled with middle and far distant representations and so on. I just wonder if you could be more specific as to the influence of Southern Sung composition or Southern Sung academic painting on wen-jen painters. From a technical point of view,I wonder--if you take a diagonal composition which is fundamentally a juxtaposition of near and empty space--and then filled that empty space, haven't you simply ignored the Southern Sung composition?

Kei Suzuki:  The original meaning in that sense of the Southern Sung diagonal composition of course disappears. In a sense, as Dr. Lee says, it becomes a different kind of composition when you fill in the space between the foreground and distant elements. It is no longer the same Southern Sung diagonal composition. However, I think what he means is that it derives from that and should be seen as deriving from that even though it is fundamentally changed.

 

Sherman Lee:    Does that mean that the diagonal composition is solely Southern Sung and does not exist in Northern Sung painting with the space behind filled in?

Kei Suzuki:    I can't say positively that it doesn't exist; it's typically Southern Sung.    If it is Northern then what would you use as an example?

Sherman Lee:    Well, there are versions--we won't go into the question of whether they

are old or not--but the famous Kuan Tung in Japan that was in the Saito collection, I believe, where you have a diagonal composition in the foreground and a very heavily developed, wedge-shaped thing coming in behind.  Couldn't one argue just the other way, that the Southern Sung people took the diagonal part, threw away the background, and the Yüan people put it back in?

 

Kei Suzuki:    Diagonal in the sense … of something coming diagonally across the painting. When you speak of this diagonal and Kuan Tung you are speaking only of the foreground.    The main mountain and what's in front of it is to be fundamentally distinguished from the Southern Sung diagonal composition.

Max Loehr:    Unfortunately I was not able to follow each sentence of Professor Suzuki's paper, but it seemed to me that he made three points of particular importance, the first stating that he made a clear break between Sung and Yüan.  The second point, I think,  is that the Yüan masters operated on the basis of elements taken from both Northern Sung and Southern Sung and, third, that there was an inconsistency of unity and grand size,    These points, in any case, find us all in full agreement.  One fundamental matter concerning Yüan--a certain type of prevailing composition--whether a misunderstanding arises when speaking here of Yüan Dynasty that Suzuki thinks in terms of the innovations of Yüan rather than the totalities.

 

Kei Suzuki:   I would rather see Yüan in the totality, that is, the literati painters, the professional and backward looking painters, even the backgrounds of Buddhist paintings would be a part of Yüan landscape.

Max Loehr:    All that moves… all that lives…

 

Kei Suzuki:   All that lives … that's right…

 

Michael Sullivan:  I'm not quite certain that I caught every word of Professor Suzuki's, I wonder if he did mention the question of the transmission of Northern Sung designs and techniques through wen-jen painting rather than through Southern Sung painting, and if he did not,  if he would like to make any comments on it.

Kei Suzuki: I agree with Professor C. T. Li on this matter that Professor Li has stated very well, the importance of Chin.  He also would recognize more the importance of conservative schools in the south which carried on these earlier Sung traditions, such as the schools of Buddhist paintings--Ning po--though it wasn't exclusively a Northern transmission. I wonder whether the things happening in the south, such as these Buddhist painters and their backgrounds, seem more relevant to Yuan because they were themselves cut off from the north so that it wasn't, in that sense, a regional matter. I was speaking of how the Yüan lost touch with their original source in nature, and that this would appear rather in these southern paintings, which were already geographically out of touch.

Question (speaker not identified): In line with that answer, there were painters

continuing on from Sung well on into the Yüan period.  Secondly, we tend, I think, in dealing with Chinese art, always to assume that the dynasty began January 1 of the given reign year and it didn't. In 1279 there were probably Sung painters who were continuing the Sung tradition, but would we know it?  And as a corollary to that, if there were a definite contribution of Yüan when would it have begun?  What would be the earliest date of what one would say here is a grand style?

Kei Suzuki: I agree with the first point that there are probably a lot of painters not recorded; but then, second, that while it is hard to say exactly when you draw the line, there is a clear distinction between Sung and Yüan.  For example, in Zen painting where can you definitely say this is a Sung Zen painting and this is a Yüan Zen painting. I think there is a clear distinction which may not correspond exactly to the historical division. You should ask Professor Shimada on such points.

 

Wen Fong: I wonder if Professor Suzuki has any particular ideas about the appearance of archaism as begun in Buddhist paintings. He talks about the reaction of Asians going back to a common style but how did this come about, and is this something part of the other artisans' inherent tendencies in the late Sung period, or does this also involve an older or modern solution?

 

Kei Suzuki: I don't want to commit myself on the idea of archaism in figure paintings. I'm talking of the background landscapes of the paintings in which there is a definite backward tendency.  But as for your idea, it sounds like a very good one. They are now beginning a project in Japan to study about 1500 paintings of Sung and Yuan and at the conclusion of this project they will be in a better position to answer your question.

 

 

 

Sherman Lee:  Max Loehr, you raised the question--you summarized Professor Suzuki's talk and then the question was raised about the totality of the Yüan Period. Professor Suzuki replied that it included everything including backgrounds of Lohan paintings and so forth and so on. Would you as a general art historian accept the idea that in writing about the Yüan period the overall picture is to be weighted equally these ways or wouldn't you say that it would be the same thing as studying Quattrocentro painting and giving equal weight to the provincial followers of the Gothic tradition--giving equal weight to those as against the more creative artists? Should this be weighed or simply taken as whatever is there?

 

Max Loehr: It would be my assumption that the accent should be placed on the creative innovations in Yüan. Not everyone in the Yüan period said something new or contributed something that determines the character of the period.  The character of the period should be dependent on what was really for the first time real or enters into the world for the first time in the period. If we take everything dispassionately into account then we might come up with a marvelously complete presentation of Yüan paintings, but the - historical understanding of the period is something that has its specific character or its particular profile.

 

James Cahill: It seems to me that I would agree completely with what Professor Loehr says, that when we are writing a book, giving a lecture, trying to treat the Yüan comprehensively, of course it has no historical meaning if it takes in everything. At the same time there are certain points at which I think one has to, in theory and to some extent in practice, try to include everything.  These are, for example, if you are dealing with a particular master and trying to establish a context or background within which he works, then of course--Ch'ien Hsüan, for instance, is painting in a context that includes all kinds of little minor flower painters some of whose works we have and they are to be considered if you are working on Ch'ien Hsüan.  Similarly, if you are going to try to draw a concept of Yüan style in such a way as to make it a useful tool for determining the authenticity of Yüan painting then you have to take, in theory, everything, because a concept based on less than this will perhaps exclude some things which are really Yüan but don't happen to fall within your theory.  In other words, if you are going to say Yüan landscape has these and these characteristics, or it is not Yuan landscape, then it has to include everything by definition.  But this does not mean that if you try to make some general statements about Yüan, and what is important in Yüan, that you have to take in everything.  Depending on what you are doing or in what sense you were approaching Yüan landscape or what you were trying to do with it, you either are dealing with what is important in it, what matters art historically, or you are trying to be sufficiently comprehensive to make some statements about it that in theory apply to everything.

 

Max Loehr: I am perfectly overwhelmed at this learned position. Nonetheless I would,

in defense of the point I made, say all history of course matters and these concepts must be based on things seen and understood. It is not the same as connoisseurship, which enters, how very importantly, all decisions, especially of museum directors, But if you had to write a history--a task in which you yourself are the master--you are probably perfectly well acquainted with the point of view you take as an historian.    As for what counts in history or what is important in history, I subscribe to Jasper's admission of what is historical stuff. He says that it is only the conscious rap id changes of continuity by conscious acts of the mind which make history. The rest is existence and important for the collector and for the presentation of all that once existed, but it is not the same and one could not build up or make the history on the basis of all that once was.

 

Sherman Lee: I support that. I think one of the main points that should be made in any discussion of this kind is that the consciousness of what you are doing is important and that you know that the other stuff exists--if you ignore it then you choose to do so.  On the other hand, one other point about scientific comprehensiveness of viewpoint, is that it is based upon the misconception that you have everything at your disposal, and that the God of Fortune and the God of Chance give you everything.  A lot of it has been destroyed, or disappeared, or is lost, and so on, and so the picture that you scientifically assemble by using everything is going to be just as patchy, but unconsciously patchy, as one that is consciously chosen and made.

 

Nelson Wu:  I think it is time now for a question to the organizer and sponsor of this exhibition. Did you or did you not have the sense of Yüan contribution and significance which guided your collecting and showing of this art?

 

Sherman Lee:  The question, as I understand it, is directed to the organizers of the exhibition. Let me say, first of all, that you haven't had a chance to look at the organization of the catalogue; but I think anyone who does this will be aware of the fact that we were aware of, let's say, Southern Sung painting, or the Northern Sung tradition coming through Chin, or the Buddhist painting of Ning Po, and other traditional ones.  As a matter of fact we have organized the first section of the exhibition both in painting and decorative arts to show the traditional side of the Yüan period, to show the elements that tend to represent conservative expression.  The second part is to show what we consider to be the creative side, which I think most people would agree is wen jen painting, blue and white porcelain, and experiments in underglaze copper red, red lacquer, and so on. If there is any assumption made--and I think maybe Wai-kam Ho does not subscribe to this--it is that there is something of a break at the middle of the exhibition and this break does somewhat correspond with the period of 1340-1350. Before that time things tend to be very conservative with some other things happening and after that time things tend to be more creative and more is happening.

 

Wai-kam Ho: I think that when we conceived this exhibition we were also very much

aware of the diversity of traditions in Yuan art. For example, when we speak of Buddhist painting I think there is a danger to speak of it as an adjective. I think essentially when we speak of Yüan Buddhist painting you have to show two types. One is essentially figure painting, such as Lohans; and then the other type is essentially icon painting.    I think these two types follow very different traditions and also make completely new innovations.

 

Nelson Wu: I would like very much a quick summarization of the hourglass-shape

development of the first part of the Yuan and the second part of the dynasty. You have different characteristics, believing that 1340-1350 has some hesitation before a great move forward, the Yuan being a short dynasty. Therefore I should like to say that Professor Suzuki opened a door and seemed to suggest several interesting things.    One perhaps is this: looking at the Yüan in at least two different views.  Mr. Ho also gives us another opening so we have to get Buddhist painting without a monolithic image behind it. And Mr. Lee just said that there is no ideal situation; that you can't have everything at your disposal … (tape recording not clear) … Is Chinese painting forever a puzzle--that is, if something is not good enough to be called Sung, it is probably Yüan; if it is not good enough Yüan, it is called Ming? I think Mr.Suzuki opened a door, and we would like to see what is behind it.

Kei Suzuki: Indeed it is true that these traditions are declining in the Yuan, but it is a perfectly natural situation and phenomenon for one old tradition to decline and for something else new and likely to come up. It is not to be seen as if Chinese painting were always slipping away … and the Ming Dynasty falls into bad ways as Mr. Wu says.    I feel,in other words, that the qualities I would find in the Yüan traditional styles, whatever school, would be pretty much negative. I do not suggest that I see any positive qualities to offset these.

Richard Fuller: I think I would like to reinforce what Professor Wu just said. It strikes me that there is some curiousness that after considerable discussion we talk about the innovation in the Yüan period; I think there is a connotation of something creative and something new when we say innovation versus degeneration and yet, at the same time, we say that this artist did not fundamentally understand what was being done or that he did not do it properly.  This is a bit like saying that the artist had a faulty concept of perspective but that the issue, of course, was no longer perspective. We had already done that a bit in our discussion of the diagonal composition. I frankly do not think it is beyond the capability of the Chinese mind to invent a diagonal composition. I don't think that is a unique property of any one period.  What is more important is how one handles space in terms of the diagonal composition or a vertical one or a horizontal one. I think Dr. Lee put his finger right on this when he said if, in fact you use the same composition which always dealt with near and far, then suddenly fill in that area, and if you so change the function of that, so that really the diagonal is now just incidental, it does not mean anything. I think rather it is better to think in terms of what Yüan painters are doing in a similar composition in terms of its difference.  And this brings us right back to the question of innovation, what is new in the period. I think it might be wise to reconsider making any reference to a misunderstanding of Kuo Hsi or any other artist, and to speak perhaps of a reinterpretation and a new and innovative statement following along old lines.

Metalwork and Yüan Ceramics MARGARET MEDLEY Percival David Foundation, London

 

The impact of metalworking, as regards both form and technique, on Chinese ceramics in the Yüan period was revolutionary. It was revolutionary primarily because it brought about fundamental changes in the methods of construction and large scale production, thus opening the way for nearly all the mass production techniques in the ceramic industry used in the world at the present time.

 

The impact of the archaic bronzes on Chinese ceramics is well known, and on the present occasion will not be considered; it is familiar ground, and in any case the influence of these vessels had no real effect, contributing very little towards the changes that occurred in the ceramics of the Yüan period. Less familiar areas of metalwork are far more intriguing and stimulating.    To probe and venture into the little known areas of Chinese and foreign metalwork is to set out, like Chang Ch'ien in the Han dynasty, into the uncharted wastes of the Western regions, and in the long run wi11, I believe, be found to be equally repaying.

 

Historically one of the points we have to bear in mind is that even before the Mongol conquest of North China in 1234, the whole area northward from the Tsing-ling mountains in the west, down the valley of the Huai eastwards to the sea had already been in the hands of the Chin, or Ju-chen people.  We can therefore expect that certain alien influences to be at work in this area even in the 12th century, and that a number of new elements of art historical interest and importance would appear in this region before they could be seen in the south, an area into which the Mongols penetrated only about forty years after their conquest of the north.    Having thus briefly suggested that new influences are likely to appear in the north before they do so in the south, I am now going to suggest that even during the Southern Sung era new artistic influences were at work in the south, which were as alien to the Chinese tradition as were some of those which were simultaneously becoming apparent in the north. Superficially this sounds confusing, but it is an old adage that "Things are not what they seem," Close study of the subject makes it clear quite quickly that the kind of influences at work in the south were very different from those in the north.  As we consider these two areas, we shall see that the approach of each was strongly divergent from the other, but that in the 14th century they coalesced to produce what John Pope termed a 14th century style. In view of the fact that we shall be concerned with much more than blue and white, to which Pope was restricted, we might be better advised to use the term "Yüan style," that fruit of a conflation of aesthetic influences.  The new and clearly definable character of this style first emerges about the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries. The present exhibition demonstrates this fact with remarkable clarity.

The north of China, particularly the Peking region and northward from there into Southern Manchuria, was famous from the 10th century onward for its metalworking tradition. The Pei-huang Shan hoard, from Northern Shansi, in the British Museum is characteristic in its forms,  techniques and styles of decoration of this northern tradition.  The hoard which includes a rather mixed lot of materials, is, in my opinion, wrongly dated to the T'ang dynasty. The two examples I show (British Museum Quarterly, No.1, pls. VII a and b) cannot date earlier than the end of the 10th century and are more likely to be 11th century. The influence of this type of metalwork can first be seen in the Liao polychrome glazed dishes, with flattened rim and shallow well, that have in recent years been identified, and appreciated for what they are—spontaneous and gay copies of popular metal forms, the molded decoration reflecting the embossing of metalwork (Sekai Toji Zenshu, Vol.  10, pl. 140).  These date mainly from the late 10th and 11th centuries and were most of them produced in the far northern Chinese kilns

and in Manchuria itself, it is not until the 12th century, probably after the Chin conquest of North China, that anything comparable is to be found in the more sophisticated Chinese wares, such as those from the kilns in the Ting-chou group. In these wares there is a very subtle acceptance of influence and a skillful adaptation of technique to suit the different medium,    A good example of this is to be seen in the Ting plate lent to the exhibition by the Percival David Foundation. The form is common to silver-work, and is one of which many examples survive.    Some particularly good specimens are to be found among the finds from Anhui reported in Wen-wu in 1965, although these are rather later in date. I shall have occasion to refer to other material from the same find a little later on.  The form of this particular type of plate is in fact universal, being found even in European silver of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Not only is there a common form and style, but there is also an interesting transfer of technique from one medium to the other. The normal practice in Ting wares was, when molding, to use a bat and beat the clay onto a domed mould on a turntable. In silverworking, either the metal was beaten by hand, a slow process requiring a high degree of control, or the metal could be spun on a lathe.  This latter practice appears to have been used sometimes even in the T'ang dynasty, and was not uncommon in Korea during the Koryu period.  It seems likely that the technique became more widely used in north China during the Chin period, and we suddenly find the Ting kilns making molded pots on similar lines. The use of the bat was largely abandoned in favor of the jig and jolley method using a throwing wheel. The mould was placed on the wheel and over it was placed a thick disc of clay, the wheel was then set in motion and an adjustable profile was lowered, pressure gently exerted, and the excess clay carefully peeled off unti1 the outer edge of the jig met the outer limit of the mould where it is attached to the wheel. This method is currently used in the industry. The method works extremely well and consistently, requiring little more than well co-ordinated mechanical handling; it opened the way to highly developed mass production, which in the 14th century was to be a great boon to the centres in south China, where the bulk of production became concentrated.

 

The other technique which was to be developed was press-molding--stamping out vessels that could not be turned on the wheel.  This was the method that emerged as the result of the desire to make lobed dishes of the same kind as the Liao examples. The moulds would be in two parts, an upper and a lower mould, that were brought together under sufficient pressure to extrude the excess clay round the edges. This technique, like jig and jolleying, produces a large series of vessels of great consistency as regards the main dimensions, the thickness and the decoration.    The molded decoration itself often reflects the embossing techniques of metalwork, and thus fits well into the new technical and aesthetic pattern.

 

Plates, dishes and basins with narrow flattened rims became very popular in the late 12th and 13th centuries, not only in Ting wares, but also in Chun and Tz'u-chou types wares.   A nice example in Tz'u-chou is the deep basin in the exhibition (No. 41) painted with a fish among waterweed.  Unfortunately the repercussions of the Mongol invasion of the north caused something like a total closure of many of the kilns in that area, and the fuller and more widespread development of the new techniques was delayed until the end of the century. It was to be the southern kilns, especially those of Chekiang and Kiangsi, that exploited the new methods of production to the full.

 

In the last quarter of the 13th century, the southern kilns to a large extent freed themselves of the enervating atmosphere of court patronage, mainly because the Mongols showed no real interest in ceramics except as source of revenue.  There was, however, an important contributory factor in the demands of the foreign trade, so that production rather than slackening as the result of invasion and a change of dynasty, in fact tended to increase.

The techniques of production—molding and jig and jolleying--were introduced into the south during the latter part of the 13th century, and we find many examples of these in the ch'ing-pai. A good example of jig and jolleying is No. 90 in the exhibition. We find too that with the exception of small boxes, bowls and jarlets, that the forms and often the decorations tend to be alien in origin, stemming for the most part from Islamic sources. The classic form is, of course, the large dish or basin, found in both Lung-ch'üan celadon and in the blue and white of Ching-te Chen.  Reference to Smirnov makes it clear that the large dish form with flattened, foliate rim, was in the first instance a metal form; a fine example came from Beidansk which is generally regarded as of 14th century date.  Ceramic examples of the form are well-known and hardly need illustration, but a particularly interesting specimen in the exhibition should be mentioned.  This is the blue and white dish from the British Museum (No. 151) with molded decoration in the well, or cavetto, left reserved in white against a blue ground.  Round the rim of this piece, and concealed by the wave pattern in blue, are florets in relief, also part of the mould.  A second piece from the same mould is to be found in the Topkapu Serai collection in which the florets on the rim are left undecorated and just with the centre picked out in blue (Pope, Fourteenth Century Blue and White, pl,14a).

 

An important effect of Near Eastern metalwork was the startling appearance of faceted vases and ewers based on Islamic forms.  Examples of both these basic forms are to be found in the hoard at Pao-ting, reported in Wen-wu in 1964.  These faceted forms seem to originate,  interestingly enough, not in Persian metalwork but in that of Ayyubid Syria and Mamluk Egypt.    This has only recently been discovered and the full implications of this fact are not yet fully apparent.  One thing, however, is quite clear. As the result of this discovery, the study of the trade routes, not only to and from the Far East will have to be considered, but also those within the Islamic world.

 

Another form copied in the south is the spouted bowl best known in silver examples from Persia and probably Central Asia.  Silver ones are known from China as well, and half a dozen were found among the silver objects from the Anhui tomb dated 1333 in Anhui, apart from the one shown in the exhibition. In ceramics we find it copied in wide variety of wares, Shu-fu, blue and white, underglaze copper red, slip reserve blue and in Lung-ch'üan celadon, of both the plain and the spotted type.  One point worth noting in passing is that all the Chin-te Chen examples have a curl under the spout; this is omitted in the Lung-ch'uan group.  Another point to notice is that so far the form has not been found at all among the northern wares.

 

So much for a few basic forms.  What about decorative techniques?

 

Here we find, as so often happens in Chinese ceramics, something wholly inappropriate to the medium, contradicting the potential of the plastic clay.  The most startling decorative innovation had only a short life of about thirty years, and in its most extreme form, probably less even than that.  Here we no longer have foreign influences at work, unless you wish to call Buddhist sculpture foreign.  The gilt bronze Bodhisattvas are the starting point, with their trailing necklaces and elaborate arm bands.  The ch'ing-pai figure group takes over directly from sculpture in bronze, and perhaps also from wood.  These figures dating, on the basis of the Nelson Gallery example, from the very last years of the 13th century introduce a moniliform element into the decor of a range of other pieces, such as the Cleveland cup and the Bristol City Art Gallery stem-cup.  This type of work reaches its extreme in inappropriateness, of course, in the Fonthill-Gagniere vase, to which the nearest parallel in the exhibition is the example from the Victoria and Albert Museum (No. 107).  This has the additional complication of applied floral reliefs, the most exaggerated specimens, and the most elaborate, being the two large wine jars, one from Pao-ting and the other in the David Foundation, in which the half inch thick wall has panels cut into it a quarter of an inch deep and of ogival form.  Into these panels are set, on plugs of clay, floral reliefs made from moulds, the panels then being bordered by a double band of beading.  The origins of this peculiar form of decoration are not hard to find, even in this Sino-Islamic setting.    We only have to turn to Chinese metalwork to find the same kind of thing appearing in cut silver, as in the comb in the Kempe Collection; this in fact has beating, embossing and cutting, and most important of all, it shows a liking for openwork, such as is reflected in the wine jars.

 

This brings us to one final point of interest—decorative elements.  There is time only for one, but an important and interesting one, on which there is a surprising amount of material, that I am hoping to publish in detail before very long.  This is what I call, for convenience, the "angular meander." It has a long and interesting history, but for our present purpose it is enough to say that in the ceramics of the Yüan period it stems directly from metalwork.    Examples of Liao and Chin metalwork both display it; we find it round the rim of the Sedgwick handled cup, and round the inner edge of the splendid silver and part gilt cup (with its own stand)in the Art Institute of Chicago.  We also find it as a banding element on an incense burner from Syria in the second half of the 13th century and at the same moment in a very handsome wine jar of painted Tz'u-chou type from Pa-ts'un in Honan, illustrated in Wen-wu,  ]964, no. 8. This motive appears very frequently in the Tz'u-chou type wares, whatever the decorative technique, but it does not reach south China until after the conquest of the south, and then it occurs in a slightly corrupted form in the Lung-ch'üan celadons, in the blue and white and in the Chi-chou painted wares.

 

There are many problems in connection with the dating of ceramics, as everyone is aware, but some can undoubtedly be sorted out if we pursue with the greatest diligence the relationship between ceramics and other media, of which probably the most important is metalwork.  The influence of metalcraftsmanship also is something to be born in mind.  Technique, form, decoration; these three had a great influence at this critical stage in the history of Chinese ceramics, and the present exhibition with its splendid cross section of arts and techniques presents an excellent opportunity to make a serious attack on these prob1ems.

 

 

CERAMICS DISCUSSION

Sherman Lee:  We had a very interesting informal discussion when Basil Gray was here

about the relative weights to be assigned to the influence of the Near East on the initial development of blue and white porcelain, and I detected from our informal conversation a difference of opinion--that our British colleagues felt that the weight was more toward the Near Eastern area being the dominant forming influence whereas the "middle western" position was more largely a Chinese oriented one, that there were relations with the Near East and that the trade that went on was certainly a means of heavy influence, but in the initial stages it was primarily a Chinese development.  Would you like to comment on that?

Margaret Medley:  Yes, I think the blue and white is only part of the problem.  I think you've also got to consider the ch'ing pai and celadons and the fact that towards the end of the Southern Sung period the Sung government made a determined effort to stimulate the Near Eastern trade.  And much of the earlier large dish types, without particularly distinguished decoration is probably made for this Near Eastern market.  I can't conceive what earthly use those large dishes would be to the Chinese themselves.  Whereas in Islamic households they would be quite natural.  The Islamic communities in China were considerable and the superintendent of trade in the Southern Sung period was in fact a Persian who had a very large trade with about 500 ships and continued his activities in the Yüan. The Near Eastern ceramics, of course, had always been more lavishly decorated. It was a little bit out of keeping with the rather more subdued colors and spray decoration; and blue (imported cobalt blue) of course is one of the keys to the

whole problem, I think.  Undoubtedly it stimulated the Chinese to try to do something a little bit like the stuff already made in Islam.  Cobalt blue was used in the Near East since about the ninth century in Umayyud wares and they would be quite happy to buy those kind of things. Interestingly enough the pieces that do survive from the fourteenth century in China are mostly not small pieces--bowls and dishes.  And it is astonishing if you start analyzing the pieces of fourteenth century date that they are very largely pieces intended for temples and shrines but I do think it's a problem that still needs quite serious consideration.

Sherman Lee:  It does seem to me, though, quite significant that you have this rise of decoration, of an interest in a decorated piece, as opposed to monochrome or molded or incised decoration under a monochrome glaze.  You have it as early certainly as the Liao, which is perhaps a continuation of T'ang, but it does occur in the north in Liao and Chin and in the red and green decorated Tzfu-chou wares.  These are all wares that are a response to a combination of Chinese and Tartar markets, not an Islamic one; and while the cobalt blue certainly comes from the Near East and the technical means as well, it is certainly due to the influence of the Near East.  The significant thing, it seems to me, is that the initial product ion are those small stem cups represented in the exhibit ion which are really a translation of Ch'ing-pai and Shu-fu techniques, shapes, and fabrics, with the addition of a Chinese decoration, in this case a dragon. And the earlier pieces of that type are not found outside of China so that I think it is an area in which we've got to pull in other wares other than the blue and white in order to determine whether this is a primarily Chinese thing or primarily in response to a Near East stimulus.

 

Mrs. Aga Oglu:  I have been interested in this problem and I often think, for Instance, cobalt was originally used in China of the T'ang period.  Then there is the Tz'u-chou ware which has brown pigment--it's not a cobalt, but the Chinese potters knew how to paint so that I think that the Chinese and this new stimulation coming with this cobalt blue under a transparent glaze, was used then for decoration in the Yüan period.

Michael Sullivan:  I think possibly the tradition of underglaze painting in South China is fairly old and I think that some of the wares  ... of the T'ang and early Sung do seem to use underglaze painting techniques.

 

Margaret Medley:  I don't know if any analysis has been made of this, but there's a

technique which has probably been referred to as on-glaze painting.  It's rather different in fact.  It's not really on the glaze.  After you've glazed your piece, while it's dried off, then paint it another color.  And this is what they did a good deal in the Near East.  And it depends on the type of glaze you use and also on your firing temperatures.  But I don't think that the Tz'u-chou pieces which are painted mainly in green and brown could stand the high temperature I think one needs for porcelain glaze.  There's always this problem of the material and the problem of different temperatures.

Michael Sullivan:  I wasn't thinking especially of porcelain but of the South China technique.

 

Margaret Medley:  Yes, yes, indeed.  But it's so different, don't you think?  All the methods of blue and white are completely different from the sort of thing one finds in the Tz'u-chou.

 

Sherman Lee:  But blue and white decorative motifs, with few except ions, are really Chinese.    There are a few Near Eastern motives that come in and one Mongo1 or Tibetan-Mongol motive — the cloud collar motive—but the lotus, the peony, the scroll, the dragon, the fish, and so on, all these things are really Chinese motives.    Perhaps somebody who has wide knowledge of Chinese domestic customs can elucidate this. Is there any inherent reason why the Chinese did not have large plates?  Were all large celadon plates made only for export?

 

Margaret Medley:  About the large plates, of course the eating habits in China are quite different from those of the Near East.  You eat with your hands in the Near East; you put it in one of these large dishes.

Sherman Lee:  We see in Chinese painting, plates with stacked up fruits in pyramidal form.

 

Margaret Medley:  In the fifteenth century you find large basins, but I think I can only name about eight altogether of a Chinese origin. They are now in the Palace Museum of Peking.

 

Peter Swann:  It would be interesting to explore the possibilities of reasons for the sudden change in Chinese taste at this time, a sudden bursting out of decorative forms.    What were the we11springs of this reason for overal1 decoration?

Answer (unidentified man):  If I could make a suggestion about this, possibly in the rhythm of the development of Chinese art in various forms you get a certain alternation of long periods between periods when the doors are wide open, as they were in the Han and the T'ang and the Yüan period when people are very cosmopolitan in their taste and they borrow ideas very freely, and then there's a kind of closing and consolidating once more. And this just may be a similar example, something that happened in the T'ang and also in Han.

Sherman Lee:  There are several periods that do that and we mention it here in the catalogue in two particular contexts. But as we must touch on the David vase, it quite clearly indicates that this is made for somebody we gather is middle-class but of a social status that I think perhaps in the Sung Dynasty might have more normally been supplied with Tz'u-chou ware.  It may we11 be that there was a slight leveling up so that this kind of taste represented by Tz'u-chou was then carried over into the new kind of mass-produced more permanent and more desirable ceramics.  The second point that I think again might make some sense, that the same kind of reaction which occurs in painting against Southern Sung painting may be represented also in ceramics by the decline of pure celadon dishes, a desire to decorate celadon with spots with the biscuit decoration and so on, and then instead to have a new kind of ceramics, a richer more florid style that would be quite radically different from the monochrome dish in celadon, ch'ing painting yao, and so on.

Margaret Medley:  We do not know how far the contemporary bronze casting of the late Sung and Yuan had an influence, from a decorative point of view, the David vase particularly is quite frankly hideous.  It's the sort of form that is found very commonly even today in temples in Japan with rather lavish molded decoration-cast decoration on the outside. Perhaps it has come in from the Buddhist side or the Taoist side, this rather lavish type of decoration.

Mrs. Aga-Oglu:  It has just occurred to me that you were talking about the fact that there was no Shu-fu or other ware with blue on the outside found outside China and yet there are possibly earlier counterparts, the little pieces published from the Philippines, the blue and the underglaze red found in Kenya were exported.  Is there an explanation for this?

Sherman Lee:  Were they found in contexts that were quite clearly the fourteenth century?

 

Mrs. Aga-Oglu:  Not in our experience, this being in Manila.  In our digs and the Michigan collection we have fourteenth century pieces together with the sixteenth.  And I couldn't date them there; they didn't agree, they didn't jibe. But this is what bothers me about this whole business of dating.

Sherman Lee:  This is the kind of circular argument used in the Philippines, and I've yet to be convinced that a great many of these Philippine and other fragments and shards which bear some kind of resemblance to the real fourteenth century pieces are not simply a matter of later, more provincial export production.  It doesn't have to be a great deal of time, but if they're just fifty to a hundred years later they are then outside the argument.  And I don't think there is any scientific evidence at all for a fourteenth century date for any of the Philippine pieces.

 

Michael Sullivan: I think possibly the total absence of blue and white ware from the site is suggestive of an early date. And you do find such sites in the Philippines which do have blue and white which I think could quite securely be dated fourteenth century on those grounds. Now whether I could take any of them back to the thirteenth century, which a lot of people would like to do, is another question.

 

Margaret Medley:  Even fourteenth century gives you a nice, large bracket to play with. The trouble is that trying to date the ceramics by their glaze. You can't try to date the ceramics by the glaze, so where are you?

George Lee:  There's one piece that we might think about, although I'm rather vague, which might tie in with the discussion we've had so far.  There is a ch'ing-pai mei'ping in the Chicago Art Institute from a … with a more or less overall incised spiral design with the spiral scattered rather widely over the body.  It ties in also with a piece of silver that has been recovered, and I think that might tie in both the metalwork and the decoration discussion that we've had.

 

Margaret Medley:  Yes, I remember the piece. The silver example is supposed to be Southern Sung.  It was excavated in Szechwan.  This almost really ties up with Dr. van Rague's section because there is an overlap here between the ceramics on one side and the lacquers on the other.  This is the beginning of the guri style, motif that you find in the ceramics not only in ch'ing-pai but also in the Fukien wares, boxes, similar to the one in the exhibition in the British Museum and also with some of the lacquer pieces.  And you have to remember that Szechwan is not only the place where metalworking was done, but also it was a lacquer producing area.

 

Jean-Pierre Dubosc:  There is a fourteenth century blue and white dish in the

exhibition, no.150 in the catalogue, with an Islamic inscription on it.  Is it the first known piece or is it the only one with an Islamic inscription of that date and what is it meant to be for?

 

Margaret Medley:   This particular dish is, so far, the only one that bears an

inscription in Arabic characters and it was purchased in India before it came to Europe and then subsequently to America.  The inscription we haven't so far been able to disentangle.  Whether it really says something or not we still don't know.  The procedure was to put together a lot of squiggles. It is under consideration at the moment.

(At this point the discussion between Mr. Dubosc and an unidentified man is not clear

on the tape.)

Sherman Lee:  Are you saying that the plate looks like a Yung-lo plate?  What does Miss Medley think of this piece as regards the date?

Margaret Medley:  As regards the date?  I don't think there is very much doubt about it in my own mind.  I would have thought it dated very close indeed to the dated vases which would put it long about the middle of the fourteenth century. I certainly wouldn't put it late in the century, certainly not in Ming.  I have had several other people I've shown it to examine this particular piece and track it back on some decorative motifs.

 

Robert Poor:  I have just a very minor point.  This has to do with the Arabic

inscriptions. There are, you know, quite a few bronzes with this material, the two earliest I can think of date 1341 and 1344.  Naturally it is the Chinese characters that give you the date; the Arabic inscriptions do indeed say things like "Praise be to Allah" and tail off and apparently it is frequently the case that the inscriptions are platitudes or gibberish.  In passing, by the way, Dr. Lee mentioned the prevalence of predominantly Chinese motives on apparently export work. It is interesting on the bronze material whether it's actually an Islamic inscription that one finds almost ubiquitous Chinese materials.  You find an Islamic inscription right next to the Chinese dragon. Even in one case of the so-called five-clawed dragon, which was supposedly to be dedicated to the emperor, one finds the "Praise be to Allah" and the dedication to the emperor.

Sherman Lee: I have one question about a specific object, no. 163 in the catalogue. This piece has been questioned by someone, and I wonder if anyone has any experience with ceramics of this nature and could offer any comments based on experience. It is the large mei-ping from St. Louis that I took to be a characteristically Liao version of the Tz'u-chou tradition with perhaps the glaze copper red or something that anticipated the underglaze copper red.  One visitor suggested the piece was a complete forgery, and I just wondered if anyone had any particular comments on that piece?

Margaret Medley: I have only one comment about the piece and that is that it doesn't seem to me to be copper red. It is too orange for copper red, but one must wait for x-ray spectroscopic evidence.

Yüan Lacquer

Introduction SHERMAN E. LEE The Cleveland Museum of Art

 

You will note there is only one jade, in the exhibition, and it may seem that we just put it. there because it belongs to us; but believe me we made a really thorough search, including one of our souls, and we could only come across two jades that we thought were Yüan, and one of them we couldn't get on loan because it was in London -- and wasn't available--and the other one is the bowl.

 

But in connection with the lacquer, Mr. Lerner worked a great deal on some research here and so did Mr. Ho on sources, but we made one terrible mistake which we unfortunately had not been able to catch before the catalogue actually came out: we call your particular attention to the 1937 translation by Otto Maenchen-Haelfin of that basic text which we had thought had not been published before.

 

This session will be on lacquer, and though Beatrix von Hague assured me with horror she would never set foot on the stage and discuss Chinese lacquer--she is a Japanese lacquer expert--nevertheless she is going to do it and we are very grateful to her for taking on the responsibility and grateful to Mr. Lerner for taking on the second part. Dr. von Rague is known to you for her excellent technical and concise work in the field of Japanese lacquer.    In doing this she naturally has come across a great deal of material in Chinese lacquer, and she' s going to give you first a rundown of what one might call the background, that is, documentary materia1 of one form or another that is available as a starting point for Yüan lacquer.

 

 

BEATRIX VON RAGUE

Ostasiatische Kunstabteilung, Staatliche Museen, Berlin

 

Nobody familiar with Chinese lacquer art will expect me to give a full lecture on Yüan lacquer today--we simply don't know enough about it. But what I can do — before Mr. Lerner talks about the objects selected for the present exhibition—is to point out four starting points which we do have at hand, when we want to learn how Yüan lacquer might possibly look.

The first point is the written fourteenth and fifteenth century sources as well from China as from Japan.  I have to dwell upon these sources in some detail, because not even the magnificent catalogue of the present exhibition mentions all of them. Let us first look at the Chinese Sources.

 

Chinese Literary Sources

  1. Nan Ts'un cho-keng-lu by T'ao Tsung-i, preface dated. 1366. In the thirtieth chapter the author writes about the manufacture of lacquer utensils. He mentions plain red and black lacquer ware and lacquer ware with engraved and gilded decoration lines, the so-called ch'iang-chin technique.
  2. Ko-ku-yao-lun written in 1387 by Ts'ao Chao and published in 1459. Lacquer is mentioned in the beginning of Book 8.  For the Yüan period the author mentions

guri lacquer with many layers and deeply carved.  But he complains that those with a yellow base are separating from the base easily.  For carved lacquer he mentions one kind with a black guideline and another kind being entirely red without a guide 1ine.   The carved lacquer wares made by Chang Ch'eng and Yang Mao were, as the author states, very much appreciated, and not only in China but in Japan and on the Ryukyu Islands too.

 

Furthermore, the author writes about the ch'iang-chin technique with engraved and gilded lines. He says that in the early Yüan period P'eng Chün-pao was a famous artist in that technique. I want to mention here, that Mr. Sammy Lee in his 1964 Edinburgh catalogue says that this artist P'eng Chün-pao has already been mentioned in a Chinese record of 1279.  That means that he worked from late Sung into the early Yuan period.

The next entry in the Ko-ku-yao-lun mentions lacquer ware with mother-of-pearl inlay.    We learn that since the Sung Dynasty it was specially made in Kiangsi Province. During the whole period of the Yüan Dynasty, rich families enjoyed having mother-of-pearl lacquers made for them, for instance, long benches, chairs, tables, boxes with covers, and so on. The lacquer is said to have been solidly put on, the decoration being perfectly designed and beautifully finished. For his own time, only nineteen years after the end of the Yüan Dynasty, the author mentions a heavy decline in the quality of mother-of-pearl lacquers.

 

The next two sources are two lists of gifts given by the Emperor Yung-1o to Japan and both containing carved red lacquer objects.

  1. The first has not yet been published in Western languages. According to the exhibition's catalogue, this early Ming source records a group of carved red lacquers given to the consort of the Japanese Shogun in 1403 or 1404. Fifty-eight pieces are said to be listed with detailed descriptions and measurements, the decoration covering a wide range of designs. The publication of this material would certainly be very interesting.
  2. The second gift list was written only a few years later, in 1407, and has been published by Figgess.  These gifts, a present to the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, included twenty pieces of carved red lacquer round dishes and thirty pieces of carved red lacquer incense boxes. There is no description of these objects besides the measurements of one foot in diameter for the dishes.
  3. By other sources, partly later and most of them mentioned by Mr. Sammy Lee in the Edinburgh catalogue or in his unpublished manuscript of 1967, we learn that the tradition of Chang Ch'eng and Yang Mao was continued under Emperor Yung-lo in his newly founded Imperial Workshop Kuo Yüan.  Chang Te-kang, a son of Chang Ch'eng, was working there as an official lacquer artist.  Under Hsüan-te, a follower of Yang Mao, who had possibly been his student and whose name was Pao Liang, became Head of the Imperial lacquer workshop. So the center of carved lacquer, which had been in the Chekiang Province during the Yüan Dynasty, afterwards shifted to Peking.

 

Japanese Sources

1.  The first of the Japanese sources is the earliest source of all we have for Yüan lacquer. It is the Butsu-nichi-an komotsu mokuroku, a catalogue of the more important art objects in the collection, of the Hojo regents of Kamakura. It was compiled in 1363 by a priest at Butsu-nichi-an, a sub-temple of the Enkaku-ji in Kamakura, and is in the Enkaku-ji now.  This catalogue, often referred to in Japanese articles on lacquer art, gives a list of various Chinese carved lacquer objects. It mentions carved lacquer plates, bowls, incense containers and several kinds of boxes.

As that catalogue was written five years before the end of the Yuan Dynasty, there is no question any longer that carved lacquerware did exist in the Yüan period and that it came to Japan already before the middle of the fourteenth century.

  1. Next we have the 1466 Zenrin-kokuho-ki which mentions a 1433 gift of the Chinese Emperor Hsuan-te to Ashikaga Yoshinori.  The gift included several articles with ch'iang-chin decoration.  For 1435, Japanese sources mention again Chinese lacquer objects with engraved and gilded designs.
  2. The latest Japanese source I want to mention is the Kundaikan sayu-choki, written in 1475 as a catalogue of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa's private collection. Here we find several carved lacquer articles and Japanese names for different Chinese carved lacquer techniques.

 

From the fifteenth century Japanese sources, which were quite enthusiastic about Chinese carved lacquer ware, much more so than about the wares with engraved and gilded design--we learn quite a lot about the differences of Chinese carved lacquer ware technique. They were different with regard to the colors of base and surface, different with regard to the number of layers in between, and different with regard to the depth of carving.    According to these Japanese names and descriptions there must have been at least ten different kinds of Chinese carved lacquer. Whether all of them existed already in Yuan times, we don't know. But at least in the fifteenth century, Chinese carved lacquer must have had many variations.

 

If we put all the information together which is provided by these sources, what do we then know about Yüan lacquerware? We know about five groups of lacquer, all of them represented in the Cleveland exhibition:

 

1.  Plain red and black lacquerware.

 

2.  The ch'iang-chin technique of engraving and gilding the lines. The first artist known to have worked in this technique, P'eng Chün-pao, worked from the late Sung into early Yüan Dynasty and still in the Hsüan-te reign, objects decorated in this technique were sent to Japan as Imperial gifts.

  1. Mother-of-pearl inlay of a complex, time-consuming kind was of outstanding quality and highly esteemed during the whole period.
  2. Guri lacquer with many layers were made, deeply carved, and some, if not all, on a yellow base.
  3. Carved lacquer must have started early because quite a number of pieces arrived in Japan already in Yüan time and at some time in the fourteenth century on the Ryukyu Islands too.  Chinese carved lacquer was highly esteemed in both of these countries.  Chekiang Province with the late Yuan artist, Chang Ch'eng and Yang Mao, played an important role although the question remains open as to whether it was the earliest and only center of Yüan carved lacquer ware.

At least at the end of the fourteenth century carved red lacquer was known with and without a black guide line.  At that time, about 1400, production of carved lacquer ware must have been on a large scale, because just in the four years between 1403 and 1407 more than one hundred pieces arrived in Japan as Imperial gifts.

From fifteenth century sources we know of many color variations for the base and surface of carved lacquer and of a wide range of color combinations.  Whether that was true for Yuan Dynasty lacquers, too, we don't know.

The second and third of our starting points are presented by those objects, which without any doubt were made during the time in question.  First to be mentioned is a well-known group of sutra boxes, all of them now in Japan.  Three of these boxes-one of them in the exhibition under catalogue #285--bears an inscribed date corresponding to 1315 and the further inscription that they had been made in Hangchou by members of the Chin and Sung families respectively.

 

The box from the Komyo-bo in the exhibition is an unimpeachable Yüan lacquer object and will certainly be discussed later on in connection with the writing set (#286) as well as with the bowl and stand (#292).

 

The only other piece of lacquer work which certainly has been made in the Yüan period is the small carved lacquer box illustrated in the catalogue as Fig.11.  This box has come from one of nine tombs of the Jen family near Shanghai.  The tombs are dated between 1338 and 1351.  This box is the earliest carved lacquer object we know of at the present time.    Mr.  Lerner will show a slide of it, and it certainly has to be discussed in connection with pre-Ming carved lacquer, although we don't know to what degree it is typical for the whole carved lacquer ware of the Yüan Dynasty.

The last of our four starting points is the comparative material in other media of Yüan art.

 

The Cleveland exhibition provides us with a unique opportunity to observe and study this related material.  There are many relations between lacquer art on the one hand and celadons, blue and white porcelains, metal art, painting, and even sculpture on the other hand. Relations between decorative motifs and their treatment in lacquer ware, and in ceramics or porcelain, have to a certain degree been known to all of us. But I must confess that the very comprehensive corpus of Yüan decorative motifs presented by the marble Chu-yang-kuan Gate north of Peking dated 1342 to 1345 has been a great surprise to me.  Two details of the gate are reproduced in the catalogue as Figs.1 and 2 and we will see some slides later on.

 

As the comparative material, our last starting point will appear again and again in our discussion, I don’t need to go into details now.  But I would like to add a few words concerning Japanese imitations of Chinese carved lacquer ware, because that question is related to all research on Chinese lacquer and is confusing indeed.

As we know from the sources and as we see with almost every carved lacquer object supposed to be of Japanese origin, the artists in Japan tried very hard to make their carved lacquer ware look like the Chinese prototypes.  There is a fundamental difference between all the other Japanese lacquer art, which has since the Heian period an unmistakable Japanese flavor, and Japanese carved lacquer ware.

Not before the middle of the nineteenth century do we find a real Japanese style in carved lacquer wares. If for certain reasons a given object is supposedly made by a Japanese artist,  the underlying idea is nevertheless Chinese.  And the more skillful the Japanese artist was, the closer he would come to the Chinese original.  It could therefore be possible that even Japanese imitations could be a help in establishing the underlying Chinese carved lacquer style.

 

But unfortunately that does not seem to help us very much with our problem of Yüan lacquer ware.  As far as we know, and that includes the modern Japanese experts too, the earliest Japanese imitations have been made in Kamakurabori technique, that means not by applying many layers of lacquer to be carved afterwards but by carving the wooden core. The carved wooden relief was then only coated with a layer of lacquer.

The oldest Kamakurabori piece in existence, an incense box with peony design, is generally dated today at the end of the fourteenth century.  It took about a hundred years more until the first Japanese artist, working around 1470 to 1490, is said to have made real carved lacquerware.  His name was Monnyu.  Nothing of Monnyu's work is known today, but the sources report that he worked in an entirely Chinese style.

The sixteenth century with its terrible civil wars has not been favorable to the whole of Japanese lacquer art.  And certainly not to such expensive and time-consuming techniques as carved lacquer.  But after that, from the early seventeenth century up to the twentieth, the so-called Tsuishu School specialized in carved lacquer.  But again, we know their work up to the nineteenth century only by the written sources.  However, it seems important that the founder of the Tsuishu School, Tsuishu Heijiro, who lived in the first half of the seventeenth century, made his artist's name Yosei out of two Japanese pronounced characters from the names of the Yüan artists, Yang Mao and Chang Ch'eng.  That means that he based his own work on Yüan Dynasty lacquer rather than on Wan-li lacquer of his own time.

 

Up to 1952 the artists of the Tsuishu School used Yosei as their artist's name, and we might therefore be prepared to find Japanese carved lacquer wares even from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries reflecting early Chinese lacquers. But I doubt whether these late Japanese artists had any clear idea concerning the difference between Yüan period lacquers which are our problem today and those of the early Ming period.

 

 

MARTIN LERNER

The Cleveland Museum of Art

 

To start off, let me state that this talk is predicated upon the belief that Yüan lacquer exists, and apologize to the symposium for presenting an extemporaneous talk whose only cohesive thread is Chinese lacquer.

 

You will be confronted with a cursory justification for the inclusion in 'this exhibition of some of the lacquers; visual corollary material in various media;' suggestions of some lines of development in lacquer decoration; and finally be exposed to some of the famous problem pieces not included in this exhibition.  Those pieces which seem to me to pose the fewest problems will be treated rather rapidly, as will material recently published.  This in particular refers to the Komyobo sutra box group and that group of lacquer dishes whose basic decorations are a lotus petal motif with either a cloud collar or classical scroll decoration on the reverse.  Those pieces which were included as a kind of finale to the whole problem of Yüan lacquer will not be discussed at all.

 

First, a group of slides of the Peking gate mentioned by Dr. von Rague, the Chu-yung-kuan, datable between 1340 and 1345.  (slide) These slides are presented to acquaint those who are unfamiliar with the gate with the kind of repertory available in sculpture, in most cases in relatively low relief, which lacquer workshops could draw upon.

 

(slide) The point to be stressed is that there is a wide range of forms available to carvers.    One finds on this one monument a variety of methods to represent the same motifs, be they rock forms or cloud formations and the same holds true for Yuan lacquers.  I think,  therefore, it is a mistake to insist upon a specific Yuan cloud form just as it is a mistake to insist upon a specific Yüan dragon. Above you see a tall gadroon pattern or stylized lotus petal motif occurring so very often on ch'ing-pai and blue and white.  All of the armor being worn by the guardians of the four cardinal points are covered with phoenixes, dragons, and cloud formations in a very low relief but in a very detailed and pictorial fashion that is closely related to designs on blue and white and carved lacquer. (slide) Again a detail, the same one occurring in the catalogue.  It should, but does not, clearly show the dragon in the central medallion which is ogival and fairly similar to the ones occurring on the Komyobo sutra box group.

 

(slide) Here we see more clearly a rock formation pierced through and rather sculpturesque in its treatment, while the flowers immediately above are flat, making an interesting juxtaposition of these two styles. (slide)I bring in a detail of the famous Hsüan-te table belonging to Mr. Low-Beer to show a continuation of a tradition.  The comparison to be made is with the floral forms within the table itself.  It is handled in a relatively flat fashion with a kind of outlining of petal form not very dissimilar from methods of representation on the gate itself.  (slide) And this then would agree with the last of the slides of the Chu-yung-kuan showing the very flat treatment of the floral forms interestingly enough outlined.  This particular technique of outlining a form be it a floral motif or a cloud form occurs very often in the Yüan Dynasty.

 

(slide) I would prefer to go through the Komyobo sutra box group as rapidly as possible.    It has been well published by Mr. Figgess.  The box in color, of course, is the one presently in the exhibition.  It is compared to another in the group, in this case I believe the one in private hands; the uniformity of this group has been pointed out and is fairly well established.  I would call your attention to the border on this box which has inlaid fragments of mother-of-pearl.  The same technique occurs on the Sammy Lee writing set.    Mr. Figgess when he published these sutra boxes suggested that the inlay as it occurs on this box is probably a later restoration.

(slide)  An interesting precedent exists for the whole group of sutra boxes.  It is a silver box, dating to 1078, making use of an ogival center medallion. The scrolling forms, while not clear at all in the slide, have some similarity to the later sutra boxes.  Even though there is a wide chronological separation between these two, the influence of metalwork on lacquer is quite clear.  (slide) In addition to the Komyobo group, all of which are quite similar in size and decoration, there is this box presently in Todai-ji which Mr. Figgess has properly included in his article, I think on the basis of technique and style.    Although it is difficult to read the style of the cloud forms, they are again similar to the Komyobo group and to the Sammy Lee writing box.  Another interesting motif occurring on this particular box is the diaper pattern, made up from a diamond with a dot in its center.  I've been told by a dealer particularly interested in this media that he has a group of lacquers he believes to be of Sung date, utilizing this same motif.  It is interesting to note that on a woodblock sutra, dated 1307 from the Princeton Library, the same diaper motif occurs together with a swastika diaper.

(slide) This is the exterior of the writing set in the Sammy Lee collection. The choice of including this particular set was primarily predicated upon the exterior with its affinity to the Komyobo group.  This whole group is also of the incised-and-filled in type.    The design, and certain motifs within the design, occur on various boxes of the Komyobo group, such as the Buddhist emb1ems.  The treatment of the c1ouds is very similar.   This diaper pattern, which is not easily read here, is something like a quatrefoil set into a diamond.  Also this particular method of decorating a corner occurs very clearly in the Peking Gate (I apologize for not having a slide), but a photograph will be available later for those who might wish to examine it.  The decoration is of kylin type creatures sporting in the landscape. (slide) This is the top portion of the box.  In terms of quality of decoration it is not so good as that of the four sides.  Also there are variations of technique. This is to be interpreted by the individual members of the symposium in whatever way they desire.

(slide) This slide shows very clearly the diaper formation with that kind of cross between a four-pointed star and quatrefoil set into a diamond. Dr. von Rague has cited sources for the popularity of the inlaid mother-of-pearl technique.  I'm not quite sure if the writing boxes are of the same period as the exterior cover, but I do feel that all of the individual motifs as they occur on this particular box--al1 of the inlaid mother-of-pearl decoration--can be fairly easily matched within the Yüan Dynasty or with objects of slightly earlier date.  Although I will not attempt to show you corollaries for all of them, there are one or two I would like to point out.  (slide) Another of the details from the Chli-yung-kuan to illustrate the interwoven motif.  This method of interweaving often occurs on armor.

 

(slide)  I wish to call your attention to something that is relatively obvious; the maker of this particular writing set very clearly had no intention of repeating any of the decorations.  And this is very common.  One finds this in earlier examples, with architecture.  The stone lattice work on this Liao Pagoda in Peking very clearly avoids repeating a design.  There were available to artists architectural books illustrating various designs, so that again the hypothesis that the Yüan artist possessed the complete range of motifs as they occur on the mother-of-pearl writing boxes, I think, is not difficult to digest.

 

(slide) There are well-known groups of lacquers that have been dated to the Sung Dynasty and are accepted by most.  The first dish that I show you, from the collection of Sir Harry Garner, is a simple dish of foliate rim easily matched in terms of form with the blue and white dishes.

 

(slide) I am going to show a group of interesting precedents, excavated pieces, again in metalwork.  First, a silver box whose decoration is composed of cloud-collar motifs from a tomb datable to 1162.  There has been published in Wen Wu (1957, #7) a carved lacquer covered box whose style is really not very dissimilar from the silver box.  This particular covered box bears a Chang Ch'eng signature.

(slide) This is another example of silverwork showing the same kind of cloud-collar decoration coming from a tomb datable before 1340.  I think that the connection between these two is fairly obvious.  There is at least a justification for the existence of the carved lacquer box in the Yüan Dynasty based on excavated material. (slide) A covered ch'ing-pai box in the exhibition, again, is reminiscent of metalwork and the so-called guri type lacquer boxes with scrolling decorations.

 

(slide) This is a cup stand recently acquired by the British Museum. The museum dates it to the Yüan Dynasty, and I think the similarity to Chi-chou ware of this period corroborates this datings.

There exist prototypes for this kind of decoration, that is, different color lacquer of many layers, the so-called guri type. I would like to remind you of two particular sources, The first, from Soame Jenyns, who seems to have handled the problem of carved lacquer (and lacquer in general)  in a rather reasonable way (from the book Chinese Art,:vol. II, The Minor Arts,  1963, by William Watson and Jenyns), "It has also been suggested that the first carved lacquers date to the T'ang; and when we reflect that carved wood covered with lacquer was known by the later Chou period, it would not be surprising if the further step of carving the lacquer itself had been taken as early as T'ang times."

 

In the collection of the British Museum there is a group of multi-layered lacquers on leather fragments--probably once part of suits of armor--recovered by Aurel Stein from Fort Miran in Eastern Turkestan.  Sir Harry Garner, in an article "Guri Lacquer of the Ming Dynasty" (T.O.C.S., vol. 31, p. 65) accepts these fragments as Chinese dating to the eighth or ninth century and describes them in this way.  "The piece of armor …is covered with seven layers alternately of brownish red and black, finishing with brownish-red on the surface … Circular pieces have been cut out… so that alternate rings of black and red-brown are clearly revealed."   Now this particular technique is not very dissimilar from the kind of thing that one sees with the British Museum's Yüan stem cup.  Those examples recovered from Fort Miran are of a more primitive type but are a true prototype.

 

(slide) I think the relationship of the Edinburgh plate (Cat. #287) to excavated silver pieces is also fairly clear.  The dish has cloud-collars on it.  Here I would like to point out that there is an error in the catalogue.  The Edinburgh plate is not carved red lacquer but rather has alternating layers of red and black lacquer. This is very clear from certain areas where a later restoration or coloring has flaked off. This also related the plate to the Low-Beer bowl and stand(cat. #292).

(slide) The group of lotus petal dishes, we 11 published by Mr. Dubosc, will be examined rapidly.  As you can see they occur in both black and red.  The forms for some of them are very similar.  I think the suggestion that the chronological difference between the manufacture of these two (cat. #290, #291) is minimal is readily acceptable. I call your attention to the grooved rim on one and the rounded rim on the other, both of these have on the underside either a cloud-pattern set into some sort of classical scroll formation or the cloud-collar.  The next, a dish not in the exhibition is in the collection of Edward Chow.    Here are two different examples, one in the collection of the museum, the other in the collection of Lady David; the Lady David lacquer is quite definitely on a metal base.  I'm not quite sure at this late stage whether we are to regard these as later manifestations or continuations of motifs found in the earlier two, or whether they are just what a Japanese carver imitating the earlier two might have done.  This is also up to discussion.

There are lacquers in the exhibition which have been included on the basis of photographs, and because of their similarity to corollary Yüan material.  In connection with the Ryugen-in covered box, I would like to point out some similarities to other media.  First the Philadelphia celadon plate with dragons and rosettes in biscuit relief.  Now the Millikin dish, again dragons in biscuit relief on celadon. Notice the similarity of the dragons both on the celadon and on the Ryugen-in cover. A comparison should be made between the floral decoration along the rim of the covered box and the covered box with narcissus decoration in the Sedgwick collection.  Another covered box of great interest because of its similarity to the Ryugen-in covered box and the similarity of the dragon to those in biscuit relief on celadon pieces is in the collection of Mr. Dubosc.  Here we find the dragons set into scrolling cloud formations.  The scrolling c1ouds are quite similar to those occurring on Yüan ceramics.  This is a black covered box and Mr. Dubosc informs me that there are traces of gilding in the bottom of the box itself.

 

We come now to a group of problematic but rather famous or notorious lacquers. Possibly the whole discussion of Yüan lacquer must revolve around one of these pieces.  The first one is reproduced in the catalogue on page 64.  This box startled scholars because of its having been excavated from the Jen family tombs datable between 1338 and 1351.  In some cases the box has been published as coming from the specific tomb datable to 1351.  In all events we have here, I think, the first clearly documented example of Yüan carved lacquer whose historicity is unimpeachable. Just as the Komyobo sutra boxes are vital for any discussion of the engraved and filled-in technique, so the Jen box is vital to any discussion of carved lacquer. I would like to suggest here a stylistic development which takes three specific motifs into consideration.  These developments seem reasonable to me and perhaps will find acceptance by the symposium but I must unfortunately be brief.    I find the single most striking common denominator for a group of four carved lacquers to be a kind of "vision of landscape."  By this I mean that the four examples which we are going to see utilize an intimate scene set quite close to the viewer.  The scenes are composed of a foreground and middle ground.  The possibility of extending the depth

of the picture plane into the background is not purposely rejected--it is simply not exploited.   Now all this in contradistinction to early fifteenth century carved lacquers with landscape decoration.  I would like to lead up to one of the best (certainly in terms of quality) of the early fifteenth century landscape examples, a round covered box in the British Museum which I feel definitely belongs to the Yung-lo period.  Now let me compare the Jen Family box with a second round covered box, not from an excavation but bearing the signature of one of the two famous Yüan lacquer carvers, Chang Ch'eng (Wen Wu, 1956, #10).    For those who have not been keeping up with the writings of Sir Harry Garner on lacquer, he finds little similarity between these two boxes, and I'm afraid that I completely disagree.   There are similarities, I think, and the similarities very much outweigh the differences, for example, the treatment of the rocks.  (I realize that it's quite difficult to see these points that I'm trying to make--I don't even know if you can read this, but if you will turn to the illustration in your catalogue hopefully it will become a bit more clear.)  The salient point is, we have with both a very intimate scene with the same basic ingredients.  There are rocks, trees, figures, and a key fret border going around both of the boxes, and then there are the obvious minor dissimilarities. I would imagine that the Jen Family box would be of slightly earlier date than the box with the Chang Ch'eng signature.  This is based primarily on examination of the corresponding diaper patterns.  The one on the Jen Family box (and I have the advantage of good photographs)is of a wave pattern, quite similar to those occurring on the early fifteenth century lacquers with landscapes.  What you can't see in these two boxes is that the wave pattern is very dissimilar to most of the wave patterns on blue and white and the embroidery from Japan dated 1295 (cat. #304).  The waves are not uniform; in that area where the waterfalls hits the water you see it splashing, also great disturbances are set up within the wave pattern itself.  We do not have a waterfall in the Jen box, but nevertheless there is wave diaper and again a disturbed one, as if there were ripples flowing through the wave pattern itself.  By the early fifteenth century the wave pattern had become very repetitious, with a uniformity that does not occur on any of these earlier lacquers.  Next, an octagonal dish bearing the signature of Yang Mao, the other carver of that famous duo.  Once again there is a fairly simple representation of the landscape with no attempt really to penetrate into the depth of the picture plane.

 

At this point I must introduce another motif which I feel is a clearly developed stylistic line.  There is a development in the treatment of the floral motif running along the border, from a relatively flat treatment to a type recognizable by a deep scooping out of the petal form which do not occur at all on this Yuan or late Yuan group. (These photographs come to us, by the way, through the courtesy of Mr. Dubosc who obtained them from a French student who was able to photograph these lacquers in Peking.)  This interest in an intimacy of nature which I am frankly at a loss to pinpoint as to a source of origin, can be found on other objects; a belt buckle of the Yuan Dynasty showing a seated figure fishing, with a wave pattern again unfortunately unreadable to the audience but which under a magnifying glass and looking at the original illustration clearly shows a disturbed, eddying water pattern. The figures themselves are relatively small, the composition is tight with no recession into the depth of the landscape.  Now a Lung-ch'uan vase of Cha-tu form presently on exhibition in the permanent collection and a carved lacquer of the same shape (Wen Wu, 1956, #10, p. 57) with a Yang Mao signature. It is our contention that the lacquer Cha tu vase is of fourteenth century date based in part on the treatment of the peony petals.  They are flat at the edges and exhibit none of the scooping out technique which is a hallmark of early Ming lacquers.  This superb mallet-shaped vase from Copenhagen illustrates this later technique very well.  You will notice that the quality of all of the objects that I have shown to you is very high; the box excavated from the Jen family tomb is by no means a primitive box.  It obviously suggests prototypes of no mean technical achievement. There's also another illustration of a very important piece occurring in the, catalogue.  It is signed Chang Min-te. I've just been informed that I have very', little time in which case rather than continuing, let me just run through the slides which I think will be of interest to everybody. This is the British Museum Yung-lo covered box where the recession into the depth becomes much greater, there are definite visual stepping stones set up to enable the viewer to go into the picture plane, there are much greater contrasts to accentuate this recession.  Next, what would seem to me a continuation of the same tradition, the finalizing of a specific line of development, a diaper pattern of ground, water, and air that is similar to almost all of the early fifteenth century pieces.  he final example is of a Hsüan-te lacquer with a clear emphasis on a pictorial richness.

 

Now the rather important lacquer bowl and stand (cat.#292) which I'm sorry I saved for the last. It's a lacquer which in terms of style cannot be matched after the fifteenth century. There's a clear segmenting of individual forms, for example, in the floral motifs and palmettes.  The tight knit construction of the piece is related to the organization of forms on the sutra boxes.  The form of the bowl can be matched in Yüan ceramics.  Next, a comparison showing the palmettes as they occur on the Komyobo sutra box and the fairly similar representation on the carved bowl. The bowl and stand are composed of alternating layers of red and black of approximately the same thickness carved on a fairly deep diagonal. Two examples which I think are related in some ways to the Low-Beer bowl and stand are a landscape dish in a Japanese collection—and I've been informed by Mr. Ho that according to tradition the dish was brought to Japan by the Chinese founder of Engaku-ji in 1279, Priest Mugaku Shogan (1226-1286).  This dish is part of a small group of lacquers that fall into a definite type and which are related to the Low-Beer bowl and stand by the style of decoration of the floral motifs.  The diaper pattern on one of these dishes is stylistically,I think, related to the exterior box of the Lee writing set with its pattern of a quatrafoil set into a diamond.  These particular pieces for me are a group although I don't really know what their relationships are, for example, to the excavated Jen family box. This is another one stylistically of the same group. The segmenting of that central floral motif is very similar to the way it occurs on the Low-Beer bowl and stand.  The same is true of the gouging out of the leaves themselves, it is rather tight knit with small motifs making up the decoration of the dish. Once more, the Low-Beer bowl and finally a bowl published in Shina kogei Zukan (vol. 3, pt. 1, pi. 41-1) as being Sung to Yüan, in the collection of Ban-na-ji, Ashikaga, stylistically belonging to the same group of early lacquers. I do not know how to correlate these last lacquers with existing materials except that they are a definite group. Whether they are to be considered examples of Sung carved lacquer or examples of early Yüan I do not know, but I leave this up to the symposium.

 

********

 

LACQUER DISCUSSION

Sherman Lee: I should like to say one word before we begin discussion on something

Dr. von Rague mentioned. Some of you may know the Japanese publication with the rather poor reproductions of the famous Chü-Yang-kuan outside of Peking dated 1342-1345, and we did make a point of getting original prints from Japan. And they have been extremely illuminating because examined carefully with the glass in all respects one can find a complete repertory in terms of stylistic handling of the shapes of flowers, of technical handling of depth whether one, two, or three different layers or divisions of depth, flat surface or undulating surface, and so forth, so that I think that whole situation of Yüan lacquer in terms of what can be considered Yuan is rather broader than one might think unless one really knows the sculptures on this gate.  With that I think I may open the floor now to discussion.  We have several people who travelled great distances to hear the lacquer session; I hope we will not leave without hearing from them.

Fritz Low-Beer:  I would like to make one or two points.  We have heard two very good papers giving the positive views of Yüan lacquer.  We have heard somewhat less about the problems of actual identification and the possibilities of carving. We have heard something about individual motifs, but the Ryugen-in box shows, for instance that the motifs could and have been very we 11 copied.  There are other evidences of such copying.  The recent researches of Sir Harry Garner have shown that especially the Ch'ing chin technique was apparently carried on in the Ryukyu islands for quite some time.  And as I told you, yesterday I got a letter from Sir Harry Garner saying that although he has not seen the red lacquer box upstairs (a very important work), he considers it on several grounds which he states in his letter to be a Ryukyu piece dating not much earlier than the early fifteen hundreds. So that there are all kinds of things which may be called Yüan but it is still extremely difficult to say that anything is Yüan.  And one point which has not been made and which relates especially to flora 1 decoration is the characteristic of the early fifteenth century of just slightly modeling the surface of any object without really breaking it.  Now there are quite a number of piece in Japan and in fact some pieces, especially with flower decoration, which could be roughly divided into two groups, one of them fragments the decorated surface inside, whereas the other integrates' the surface.  You can see evidence of sort of an anxious contriving and here and there you can see a failure due to what seems to be a naturalistic instinct of the designer. That is, he tried to compose so that relatively little background will show. Some of these have not been accepted by everyone.  The question I ask, are they Japanese or not?  It will only be possible, I think, to really get further in the identification of Yüan pieces when we can decide or find out more about what the Japanese really think because during the last ten years I have become more and more convinced that there are far more Japanese carved lacquers than anyone can say.

 

Beatrix von Rague:  I think it would be extremely interesting to find out which pieces are Japanese because the Japanese always try to make them look Chinese, and if you want Chinese Yüan lacquer I don't think you can answer with Japanese lacquers and the copies are certainly later.  So there are two different kinds of Japanese early carved lacquer.  I don't think we have any answer to Japanese carved lacquer of early times.

 

Fritz Low-Beer:  I don't know what the problem is, but as long as these doubtful pieces are being called Yüan everywhere, let us stop this idea of Yüan.

 

Beatrix von Rague:  I think there are many question marks behind this Yüan attribution

always.

 

Fritz Low-Beer: Here now, not in England apparently, and I think many of these pieces also give the impression of a naturalistic design compressed into a circle; but I don't believe the Chinese would ever have designed that.

Sherman Lee:  I think there we're getting into questions of stylistic methodology which I could argue with you at considerable length.  I think it's kind of a circular argument, to decide what, you think is a good design and that this must be Chinese.

Fritz Low-Beer:  There is one point that I would 1ike to make and that is the relation-ship between, decoration and shape.  It means decoration itself in respect to shape, and you find when you look at regardless what Chinese object of approximately a period, say, the beginning of Sung to the middle of the sixteenth century, there is always a definite rhythm in the relationship between the two.

Sherman Lee:  There is one little detail on the gate, remember that we looked at the base of the column.  It was too dark and we couldn't see it … there's the rock with the stylized lotuses above beautifully designed and just to the left of the rock coming up out of the ground next to it is an absolutely naturalistic little kind of chrysanthemum which comes up and it is just completely unrelated to anything else there, but there it is:

 

Fritz Low-Beer:  How about the decoration and background relationship.  I'm not speaking now of naturalism; I'm speaking of the effect the thing makes on the decoration and then there's the background.  Take for instance the scroll on a blue and white, you have the flower and then the leaves of whatever it is, the scroll, and then perhaps there is more blue or suddenly there is more white, but the whole thing follows a definite rhythm and it is not based on naturalistic fact-it is based on the demands of the period.

 

Beatrix von Rague:  I think we should see the possibility of different qualities. Not all of even the Chinese things hang together, and sometimes the relationship between background and design might be different.  I don't think we should always put these things into the category of painting.  There are other reasons I agree with you why this should be Japanese, but it's not only because of the relationship of background and design and I don't see how this question solves the problem.

 

Fritz Low-Beer:   But there is the problem of these dishes in England. These pieces are inconsistent.  Now I think it is an accepted fact that inconsistency in a work of art is suspicious.  These pieces are excellently drawn, they are excellently carved.    It is only the composition of the decoration which fails; and the second thing is that you do not find such faults in composition.  I have looked at a lot of things from that point of view.  We do not find bad composition.

 

George Lee:  With two lacquer experts in front of us, there is one related question

that I find irresistible.  There is a reference to 1235 and another, as I recall it, to Ch'ing-pai ware and lacquer.  I haven't kept a complete record of the inscribed lacquers, but there are references to Hangchou lacquers, and I would 1ike to know if either of you know of any pieces bearing inscriptions?

Jean Pierre Dubosc:  Mr. Sammy Lee would be able to answer better than I.

Sammy Lee (interpreter):  Please repeat the question.

 

George Lee:  There are a number of inscribed pieces, documented finds, of Hangchou _ were there is a reference in 1235 to Ch'ing-pai ware and to lacquer. There is a second reference also involving both Ch'ing-pai and  .... Do we have any inscribed pieces?

 

Sammy Lee (interpreter):  Mr. Lee says that he has published in his book that there

is mention in Hangchou of producing such objects, but after the twelfth century. It is too involved a problem to say in very brief sentences.  If you are interested, please read his book.  Mr. Lee does agree with Dr. von Rague and Mr. Lerner with the comparison of the dating of the Yüan Dynasty.

Jean Pierre Dubosc:  I think Mr. Low-Beer made a point about one piece of lacquer

which comes perhaps under suspicion although I have not examined this piece and I would be inclined to leave it open for discussion.  But you generalize and are obsessed by the idea that there are so many Japanese copies, and I think that Mr. Low-Beer may be upset by this idea.  Rather I would have him comment on the pieces that are under no suspicion of being Japanese copies, that is, the pieces we have seen on the screen and which are in the Palace Museum in Peking. They agree in style enormously, as  Mr. Lerner has justly pointed out with pieces which we are accustomed to date fifteenth century and earlier, and it seems to me that Mr. Low-Beer fails in a certain measure on a basic issue in not examining these pieces and saying frankly what he thinks about them.

Fritz Low-Beer:  Which pieces?

 

Sherman Lee:  The pieces in Peking.  He says how can he have seen them; they're in Peking?

 

Fritz Low-Beer:  I've gone as far as I can.

 

Sherman Lee:  But wouldn't you say that if we leave those early flower plates out for the time being, that what we've seen on the screen provides pretty decent proof.

 

Fritz Low-Beer:  (taking a photograph from his pocket) Surely you don't think that's Yüan!

 

Sherman Lee:  I can't tell from the photographs.  If there's any one thing an

exhibition like this proves, I can only say go in the front door of the main exhibition and look at the case at the left and the case at the right and realize that photographs are great liars.  And I think it is absolutely true, one hundred percent, and I'm talking now in terms of authenticity, copying, anything else, the good object, the object of high quality and authenticity always looks worse in the photograph; the bad object always looks better; and they never look like the photograph.  And perhaps some of the trouble in this lacquer business is not having had the originals together.    You have a few here in the exhibition. I think it would be interesting to examine them and perhaps later on there'll be some comments for publication because they are juxtaposed in the original. I think in view of the lateness of the hour that we can adjourn.

 

Yüan Sculpture

Introduction SHERMAN E. LEE The Cleveland Museum of Art

 

This session is to be devoted to sculpture.  You will note that in the exhibition we have quite deliberately, as expressly stated in the catalogue, taken the liberty of having, as in the lacquer, a prologue and a post-logue.  That is, there are works of Liao, Chin, and early Ming sculptural works in the exhibition.  These have been put there specifically to indicate sources of Yüan style in sculpture and some works dated Yung-lo which help to show what the end of the Yüan was like and also the differences between that new Ming idiom and the classical earlier style of the early Yüan Period.  The paper is to be given by Mr. Wai-kam Ho, Curator of Chinese Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  As you know, Mr. Ho is co-author of the text part of the catalogue and responsible for the painting and sculpture catalogue entries with the notable assistance of Mr. Tom Wu, as well as that of Mr. Czuma.  As I said in the catalogue, this is really a kind of team production, and I think for any kind of memorable progress to be made in the field of Far Eastern art, this kind of collaboration is absolutely essential.

 

 

Government Administration and Supervision: An Important Aspect of Yüan Sculpture

WAI-KAM HO

 

The Cleveland Museum of Art

 

 

Among the many questions that I wish to raise in the discussion of Yüan sculpture, I have to limit myself to only one topic of consideration which I think is basic to the understanding of the historical background for the sculptural programme in the Mongol period.  By sculptural programme I mean only Buddhist sculpture, sculptures which involved an artist-patron relationship, a system of technical specialization and labor distribution and which usually required a continuity both in time and effort.  The topic to be briefly considered here today is the centralized administration of sculptural work in the Yüan period.

 

Buddhist sculpture in the Yüan Dynasty was a highly organized, often collective, enterprise.  This is one of the most important aspects of Yüan Buddhist art which seems to me so far neglected by most historians.  The historical literature of the Yüan period,  such as the Yüan Tien-chang or the "Yüan Administrative Codes" provide extensive documentation for the official organization of artisans, the government control over their products and the centralized administration of the handicraft throughout the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.  A great majority of the artisans and craftsmen in the land, whether he was a goldsmith, a jade carver, or a sculptor, whether the artisan himself or his immediate family, were under strict government control.  To begin with, he must register as a chiang-hu or "craftsman household" which was hereditary and irrevocable.  Even his personal life was tightly regulated--he was not free to move from city to city, for instance, and it was even illegal for a sculptor to marry without permission, a girl whose family did not belong to the same professional category.  On the other hand, an artisan enjoyed a good number of enviable privileges which were usually denied to most

other people.  He was ranked, unofficially, number seven in the ten classes of citizens,

way ahead of the Confucian scholars.  He was exempted from most regular taxes and duties, and his service was often compensated, in addition to his wages, by free lands granted by the government, although the land grant was theoretically untransferable and could not exceed 100 "acres" for each person.

 

This unprecendented high social status accorded the artisans reflects the nomadic conqueror's traditional respect for the utilitarian and technologies which to them were symbolic of civilized life and material well-being.  It underlined a taste for mundane luxuries newly acquired by the Mongols.  From the very beginning of the Mongol conquest the artisans were almost the only lucky people to be spared from the mass slaughter whenever a city was overrun by the Mongol cavalry.  When Samarkand was sacked in 1231 by Genghis Khan most of the populace was put to the sword except 30,000 artisans and craftsmen who were spared and sent to Inner Mongolia to establish a leather and carpet industry which later became famous.  When K'ai-feng, the capital of the Chin Dynasty, fell in 1233 many people escaped death by disguising themselves as carpenters or other craftsmen.  These included a large number of Confucian scholars and even Buddhist monks.  Most of these newly captured craftsmen were then resettled at the capital as well as at other cities in Ho-pei and in Shansi Province, such as P'ing-yang and Chen-ting, one of the traditional centers of Buddhist sculpture northeast of the Yellow River.  To govern and supervise the work of these craftsmen and artisans the Mongols devised a bureaucratic system which was perhaps by far the most elaborate, most complex, and immense ever known in Chinese history.  To outline briefly a very complicated picture, I need to mention only two related organs which seem to have worked side by side in many of the important sculptural projects. The first of these is a uniquely new government department established as early as 1288.  This is called the Hsüan-chen-yüan whose function included the supervision of all Buddhist affairs in China as well as administration of the newly conquered kingdom of Tibet known as Tu-fan in the Yüan times.  The overlord of this politico-religious organ was as a rule a high priest from Tibet. He was given the title Ti-shih or Preceptor of the Emperor, whose words carried the dignity and power almost equal to that of the almighty Khan himself. Under the Imperial Preceptor there was a titular administrative head of the Hsüan -chen-yüan, the High Commissioner.  This office was often nominally assumed by the prime minister himself, whose ecclesiastic authority was largely delegated to the provincial branch offices including the most important one located in the old Southern Sung capital, Hang-chou in Chekiang Province.

(slide) It should be pointed out that two of the best known sculptural projects undertaken in the Yüan period were both related to this office.  The Chü-yung-kuan Gate and its famous marble relief was a project completed in 1345 under the auspices of the eleventh Imperial Preceptor, Kun-dgah bzan-po,(slide) and some of the principal images in two of the most important Buddhist stone caves in Hang-chou were made by order of the provincial chief of the Hsüan-chen-yüan.  (slide) For instance, the Rajrasattva in cave Ch'ing-lin tung or Niche no. 5, and the Guardian King of the North, To-wen-t'ien, in Niche no. 43, were dated in 1292 and both reflect the imported style and the esoteric taste of their Tibetan inceptors.

The second government organ which had direct control over the artisans and was responsible for the execution of many of the sculptural projects is much too complicated to define in a simple outline.  There were not one, but a whole body of very similar government establishments supervising all kinds of work and craftsmen which must have overlapped each other in some of their functions and jurisdictions. The chapter on the bureaucratic system in the administrative code of the Mongols as well as the official history of the Yuan Dynasty devotes almost half of their space to these artisan-functionaries classified separately as "craft-officials."  To avoid unnecessary confusion I want to mention only two of the central offices in Peking. The first of these was under the Ministry of Works known as Chu-she-jen-chiang tsung-kuan-fu, or "the Central Administrative Board of Artisans and Craftsmen in Different Areas of Specializations." This was created in 1273 (or 1275) and the first administrative head of the board, appointed in the same year by Kublai Khan, was none other than A-ni-ko (1244-1306), the celebrated Buddhist sculptor of the royal family of Nepal.  This board had more than thirty branch offices all over north China, mostly located north of the Yellow River and the greatest concentration of these branch offices were in Shan-si Province. Immediately under the central office were eleven departments, each supervised one type of craft, including for example, gold and silver, precious stones, bronze and iron casting, stone carving, embroidery, textile, carpentry, and lacquer. Among these departments two seemed to be considered particularly important and each was headed by a much higher ranking official.  These were the Bureau of Buddhist Images, Fan-hsiang t'i-chü-shih, which was in charge not only of clay and wooden sculpture, but also Buddhist painting.  Equal in importance was the department which specialized in the making of Buddhist bronze images. This was called Ch'u-la-chü or "Bureau of 'Lost-wax' Products."  It was so named so its very specific function could be distinguished from that of the other ordinary bronze foundries.

 

Apart and independent from this government craft administration were the numerous imperial workshops created exclusively for court services. These covered almost the complete range of crafts and decorative arts, including a few of particular historical interest. The imperial Bureau of Pottery in Ching-te-chen (Fou-liang tz'u-chü) created in 1278, for example, was entrusted not only with the administration of ceramic products but surprisingly, also lacquer ware.  This seems to suggest a close relation of the two important innovations of the fourteenth century, the carved lacquer and the blue and white porcelain, perhaps in terms of a common repertory of pictorial themes and decorative patterns. The Bureau of Paintings was more concerned with general architectural and ornamental designs rather than painting.

(slide) The Bureau of Embroidered Buddhist Images was established sometime before 1300 and probably not later than 1295 which happens to be the date of this "Kuan-yin of the Willow Branch" in the collect ion of the Kyoto Museum.  I may mention in passing, since it is omitted in the catalogue entry, that the silk and gilt embroidery for this image seems to reflect, the special technique and patterns employed for the most elegant and luxurious fabric of the fourteenth century known as "nacisi," a material made especially for a kind of Mongolian courtdress called the "Jisün" garment and worn only by the highest nobility and Household Guards in an imperial banquet.  We do not have much information on the number of people employed in these palace workshops.  We do know, however, that a similar system of centralized control of crafts and craftsmen was partially adopted and continued in the early Ming Period but on a much reduced scale.  But even on a much reduced scale the number of artisans serving in Peking around 1570 still exceeded a total of 12,000.  This includes, and I will cite only those craftsmen of art-historical interest, 400 in picture mounting, 223 in architectural and decorative painting, 255 in lacquer ware, 57 in bronze gilding and 92 in wood and clay sculpture.

 

The significance of this centralized control of crafts including the making of Buddhist images seems to be many-fold, if I am allowed to make a few generalizations.  First, it tended to encourage the development of a homogeneous, corporate style in Yüan sculpture officially sanctioned by the central authorities in the work bureaus and in the Buddhist church, whose powerful agency in the government was the Hsüan-c hen-yüan and its provincial branches.    Individual expression and innovation were likely suppressed or overshadowed by the wish and the convention laid out by the supervisor of the work team who was very often a Tibetan, a Nepalese, or a Central Asian.  (slide) This inevitably led to a conservatism which was more ready to borrow than to experiment, to adapt to what was officially approved than to try for the new and unknown.  The result was of course the gradual degeneration of Chinese sculpture into stereotype and mediocrity toward the end of the fourteenth century.    (slide) This shows you the kind of stereotype common in the early Ming Period.  I'm sorry I can't substantiate this observation with better slides of documented or dated works of

Yüan sculpture, but an example from a Buddhist woodblock print might just as well illustrate this point. (slide) This is another example of the kind of conservatism underlying most Yüan sculpture. I think we have mentioned in the catalogue that the Udhyana image of the Buddha was extremely popular in Peking.  As a matter of fact, the Ta-sheng-shou wan-an-ssu, one of the most important temples in Peking, constructed between 1272-1288 under the direction of the central Buddhist administration headed by the second Imperial Preceptor, Erincin, was particularly built to house the Udhyana image and it was therefore also known as the Temple of the Auspicious Image. This gilt bronze from Minneapolis (slide) I think essentially conforms in style to the Northern Sung wooden statue now in the Seiryōji Temple in Kyoto although a few deviations derived from Tibetan influence can be noted, for example, the facial features, the bald spot on the top of the head, and the jewel on the top of the topknot. (slide) I just showed an example from a Buddhist woodblock print to demonstrate that one of the reasons for the conservatism prevailing in Yüan sculpture was derived from the fact of the centralized control of the projects.  Now I would like to call your attention to the names of two artisans discussed in the exhibition catalogue which I think are particularly interesting and illuminating.  These are the printer Ch'en Ning and the artist Ch'en Sheng which appear in the two lower corners of the frontispiece print for the Maha-parinlrvana-sutra (no. 278 in the catalogue) datable to 1301.  Both of these names appear in the woodblock illustrations from at least six other sutras, including five from the Chi-sha edition, and one from the contemporary Ho-hsi edition of the Yüan Tripitaka with Uigar scripts discovered in Sinkiang (Chinese Turkestan)in 1929 by the "Northwest Scientific Investigation Team." If you compare these Chi-sha woodblock prints from the Dubosc collection with a similar design dated 1307(slide) from the Gest Oriental Library at Princeton University, you will note the latter is not exactly of the same artistic quality and craftsmanship as the earlier examples of 1301 from the Dubosc collection.  However, much of their overall composition and individual motifs are very similar to each other suggesting the possibility of a repertory of basic designs which might have served as the common models for different artists and printers who were commissioned in separate times and places to work for the Chi-sha project. This common repertory of designs, I would venture to say, was in all likelihood a product directly influenced or even supervised by the branch office of the Hsüan-cheng-yüan in Hangchou.  Another aspect of this paradox is the fact that these woodblock print illustrations, designed by the same artist and printed by the same man but distributed thousands of miles apart for people who used different languages, display styles which are at once closely akin to each other and yet distinctly different.    Those from the Chi-sha edition published in Su-chou show strong Nepalese-Tibetan influences, while the single leaf with Uigur script discovered in Chinese Turkestan is strictly Chinese of the orthodox tradition of the Liao-Chin period.  Feng Chia-sheng suggests that the latter was also designed and printed in Su-chou for circulation in the Uigur area. An explanation for the stylistic discrepancies could be this: in Su-chou where the design and publication of the Chi-sha edition of the Tripitaka was under the direct supervision of the branch office of the Hsüan-cheng-y'uan in Hangchou, the influence from Tibetan art worked most strongly.    But when a commission came from far away where the product was not for local consumption, the artist, in this case the same person, Ch'en Sheng, might have been allowed the freedom in choosing a style either preferred by himself or dictated by his client, in this case the Buddhist authorities in the Ho-hsi Corridor.  In other words, within the limits of this system of centralized administration of Buddhist art, depending on how strong was the control exercised by the local craft bureau, and the local church, there was definitely still room for differences derived from individual or regional traditions.  How shall we identify and define these regional styles of Buddhist sculpture in the Yüan Period?  Or, to be more exact, how shall we draw a line of demarcation, both in chronology and style, between the three main sources of influences for Yüan sculpture, namely the tradition of the Liao-Chin orthodoxy in the north, the imported modes from Nepal, Tibet, and Yunnan, and the Southern Sung school surviving in southeast China from the seacoast to Szuchuan Province. How did

these traditions react to and accommodate each other?  These are some of the problems still looking for more detailed answers.

 

The second point I want to make in conjunction with the official control of craft under the Mongols is the introduction of a code of proportions and iconography in Buddhist figural art.  This is the Silpa-sastra, the Buddhist canon which enumerates the regulations and set the standard for correct representation of Buddhist images. There were three different versions of this manual of the laksanas, all surviving only in Tibetan.  Although its Chinese translation for popular, circulation appeared as late as 1742 in the Ch'ien-lung Period, there seems to be plenty of evidence that its use by the Tibetan officials in Buddhist image-making during the Mongol Period was not only very early but probably quite universal.  (slide) If you compare these pieces, most of them dated quite early in the fourteenth century with the sculpture from the caves at Hangchou, I think you will agree that their proportions and many of the iconographical peculiarities were not derived from any preceding traditions of the Sung or Liao-Chin periods but rather based on a completely new set of rules which I think are almost identical with the Silpa-sastra in the Tibetan Tripitaka known to us today.

 

In addition to this new code of proportion and iconography, which set an official guideline for Buddhist image-making, there was another factor which seems to have helped to mold the style of Yüan sculpture and reinforced the movement toward homogeneity and stereotype in the second half of the fourteenth century.  This was the development of a widely adopted technical tradition among the artisan-painters and sculptures, a "trade formula" handed down from the master to the apprentice from the earlier times which seems to have moved toward standardization or crystalization during this period.  For example, since the late T'ang Period one of the formulas used widely by the portrait painter and the sculptor in depicting a face is abbreviated in a catchphrase like this; "Cut an egg into two halves and then draw a vertical line in the center." (slide) This is, I think, quite early, maybe at the latest the eleventh century or probably earlier.  (slide) Then in the fourteenth century we see that another new code had firmly taken shape which is essentially similar to the old formula but with just one basic difference, that is, "cutting an egg into two halves but draw two vertical lines."  Now what does this mean? The starting point, as we know, that a Chinese portrait painter or sculptor would take when they set forth to do a face was usually the nose bridge.  In the early Sung times, or earlier in the late T'ang and Five Dynasties, the nose was usually represented by one line as presumably dictated by this kind of trade formula.  But then you will see how this was changed into two parallel lines in the fourteenth century, especially toward the end of the fourteenth century, and it became the dominant mode in the Ming and Ch'ing period.  This first step for doing the face is of paramount importance because the position and delineation of the nose bridge not only establishes the relation of other facial features but also determines the proportion and shape of the head and subsequently, the rest of the body. In other words, a seemingly ordinary technical convention could become significant as a decisive stylistic factor, the means of representation could become a mode of representation.  And usually this kind of convention tends to perpetuate itself in a highly organized and regulated profession.  The result was the rule of stereotypes and the inevitable decline of Yüan sculpture as a creative form of art.

 

I think we will stop here for our discussion of this problem about the centralized control of crafts and sculpture during the Yüan period.  I have a few slides chosen rather randomly to suggest some other possible topics for future discussion.

 

(slide) This one is about the Tibetan and Yunnan influence upon Yüan sculpture. Let us first look at the military pattern of the Mongol invasion of China.  We know they came down from the north and their target of conquest was the plain of the Yellow River and the Yangtze basin. But before they attacked the plain in the East they usually first took the highlands in West China to take advantage of the mobility of their cavalry.    So, for example, in 1234 after the fall of the Chin capital Kaifeng, the Mongols immediately launched an attack on the Southern Sung. But surprisingly its main force did not come across the Yellow River; instead its main force turned west to Szuchuan.    Szuchuan was overrun in 1235. In the same year Yünnan was taken and Tibet fell in the following year.  This chronological sequence implies that as a consequence of the Mongol military success the influences from Yunnan and Tibet on Yüan sculpture was brought to North China almost a half century earlier than the fall of the Southern Sung.    This is why we suddenly confront such a heavy Tibetan flavor in the stone sculpture in the Hangchou caves only three years after the end of the Sung Dynasty.  The Tibetan tradition indeed had long been established before 1279 with the central craft administration in the North and its introduction to South China was as sudden and arbitrary as the triumphant entry of the tyrannical Lamaistic church.

(slide) This is what I consider an example of a Yünnan image of a very particular Buddhist cult, the A-ch'a-o cult which centered around the worship of the A-ch'a-o Kuan-yin or the so-called Fearless Avalokitesvara.  I don't know of any area in China other than Yünnan which had also accepted a similar Tantric cult of Abhetti.  This in itself is a fascinating subject in the study of Yüan religious art. (slide) But the traffic was by no means one way. Evidently, after 1235 when Tibet was subjugated by the Mongols, the Buddhist art of Tibet also was subject to the influences of Chinese sculpture which was probably imposed upon them by the new conquerors.  These are examples published by Tucci from a temp1e in the Kantse area in the eastern part of Tibet which clearly shows the influence of Chinese figural style dating back at the latest to Northern Sung or earlier, the tenth century.

(slide) In fact, the one on the left I think is almost identical in iconography with the figure of the Tibetan King represented in the famous hand scroll Pu-lien-t'u or "Emperor T'ai-tsung on a portable palanquin" attributed to the T'ang master Yen Li-pen. (slide) This Chinese influence introduced to the Tibet and Yunnan area was basically derived from a northern tradition, which I would call the "linear tradition" in Chinese figural painting and sculpture that was the dominant style of the tenth and eleventh centuries in the Ho-nan, Ho-pei and Shan-si Provinces. (slide)  This, for instance,is a fragment of a Northern Sung wall painting in the Minneapolis Institute of Art which, I think, can be dated safely no later than the first half of the eleventh century, probably earlier.  (slide) The other one, a Liao statue of a bodhisattva from the Lower Temple of the Hua-yen-ji at Ta-t'ung in Northern Shansi, is simply a sculptural translation of the same linear style in figural painting of the period.  Note, for example, the symmetrical spiral design for the drapery on the chest is one of the characteristic, decorative motifs of this Linear style of Northern Sung wall painting exemplified by such we11-known examples as the Seiryoji woodblock print of Maitreya designed by Kao Wen-chin in 984.  This was a style particularly popular not only in the Sung capital but also in the southeastern part of the Shansi province and its neighboring area.  It is also a style which has somehow been mistaken by later critics as a derivation from the Central Asian tradition.  To be sure one cannot deny the existence of Iranian influence in the formation of this style, but historically the synthesis was clearly a Chinese product of the tenth century and not earlier.  As a result of this confusion a good number of early figure paintings bearing the imprint of this decorative linear style have been doubtfully attributed to such early masters as Wei-ch'ih I-seng and Yen Li-pen.  The wel1-known handscroll in the Stoclec collection in Brussels, sometimes called the Drunken Monks and supposedly a work of the Wei-ch'ih I-seng school is in my opinion a good example of this court style of the early Sung Academy.  The handscroll of "The Tribute Horses" by Jen Po-wen in the Brundage collection is again an echo of exactly the same tradition resounding as late as the second half of the fourteenth century.

(slide) The next example is a standing Bodhisattva at Mai-chi-shan in Kan-shu which illustrates the wide-ranging influence of this same pictorial style upon the sculptural works of the Sung Period.  It shows a number of the same type of decorative and linear features such as the spiral drapery scheme I just mentioned.  This, for lack of a better description, may also be called the "symmetrical" style in the Liao and early Sung sculpture.    Every decorative motif, including such small details as the characteristic linear play under the knees of the figure are arranged symmetrically, point counterpoint.

 

(slide) This is another example among the sculptures in the lower temple of Hua-yen-ji at Ta-t'ung to show what I mean by the symmetrical style in the drapery and overall:

design.

 

(slide) This Amitabha of the Forty-eight Vows in Kansas City is datable to the turn of the tenth and eleventh century.  I think it is still basically symmetrical in its drapery design especially when you compare it with similar figures of a later period which demonstrates a gradual deviation from this main stream.  In this particular example I think the nose bridge is still basically represented by one vertical line. There's still no conscious effort to make the nose bridge look angular with two parallel lines.  But you will note a subtle change was already in the making and the modification will become conspicuous when we come to some of the bronze figures of the early Ming period.

 

(slide) This is another example to illuminate the working of another trade code or formula practiced by the sculptor's profession.  This is the kind of emphatic treatment given to the eyebrows by the late fourteenth century or early Ming period artists, a smal1 convention easily overlooked but apparently representing one of those small tricks handed down from one artisan to the other.  The evolution will become more obvious if we examine the profile of this figure side by side with a comparable specimen of the earlier period before the fourteenth century.  Then it will become clear that a new emphasis on the plane of the forehead is achieved by the distinctive depiction of the eyebrows in raised lines, a trick particularly favored by the later sculptors.

 

(slide) As time went on the 1inear tradition of the early Sung figural art which stressed a certain decorative or pictorial effect on the surface, seemed inevitably to show a tendency to move toward a greater realism or a greater awareness of a more plastic sculptural form.    This is especially evident in the wooden sculpture of the Chin and Yüan period in which the sensation of linear movement and the effect of light and shadows on the surface created by deep carvings is much more pronounced than the early Sung work.

 

(slide) The emphasis may not have been so strong with the Southern Sung works, however, I would still call the Southern Sung style essentially linear except that instead of an almost purely decorative intent, the sculptor was now striving to achieve a direct translation or paraphrasing of calligraphic brush strokes used in figura1 painting into wood or clay. If you look at this detail on the sleeve of the Taoist figure in the Cleveland Museum, particularly the characteristic treatment of the curves, you know what I mean by a direct translation of calligraphic strokes into sculpture.

 

There are many similar problems as I said in the opening statement that I would like to raise in this discussion.  One of the things which comes to my mind at the moment is the relation of sculpture with their intended environment.  I think in discussing Chinese sculpture from the Liao-Sung to the Chin-Yüan period one must always remember that we are talking about primarily temple sculpture rather than cave sculpture. This makes a great deal of difference because with cave sculpture the cave or the niche creates some sort of physical and psychological, as well as visual, frame of reference.  It is a kind of "closed" type of sculpture.  There were problems such as spatial organization, light and shadow effect, visual illusion, etc. which must have consciously or unconsciously played a part in the artists' efforts. But when the sculpture appeared free-standing in the open space of a large hall of a temple, where there is no particular frame of visual and psychological reference, there's also no particular preset compositional relationship between one statue standing next to the other.  There's also no particular figure-and-ground relationship between the sculptural forms with the negative space between them. For example, in the Liao-Chin and Sung-Yüan periods the attending figures in the main hall were often grouped around the principal images in a way which is seemingly irregular or defying any definite schematization.  This may sound like an oversimplification of the problem, but what I want to point out is the significance of the effect of such a different environment on the development of Chinese sculptural style.   The Yüan sculptors did not have to work with such an environment as a cave or a niche, the shape and form of which often conditioned or dictated his design and arrangement.  He was instead faced with other new problems and challenged in relation to the architectural plans of the temple and the concept of a free-standing, "open" type of sculpture.  He was apt to direct greater attention to such things as overall plastic effect, a sensation of surface movement, or the luxuries of ornamental details, which no longer disturbed the unity of his group design.  For this same reason there arose other kinds of stylistic peculiarities.  For example, if you look at the standing wooden Bodhisattva from Kansas City in the exhibition, you will notice it was made to tilt forward.  Now this is apparently dictated by the kind of arrangement of the images in the temple because the Bodhisattva was probably one of a group which was placed either in front of the central altar or on two sides of the main hall on some sort of a low platform, and the proper angle of the viewer is supposedly from below.  There are many similar, what I would call external, factors which effect the development or the evolution of the style.  I think another point which I would also consider important is that since Chinese sculpture towards the end of the fourteenth century has become increasingly conservative as a result of the centralized control and trade conventions, sometimes style alone is not a very dependable criterion for the determination of authenticity.  On the other hand there are a great number of iconographic peculiarities, however small, which seem to be much more decisive than stylistic elements for the dating of a late Yüan or early Ming sculpture.  In this aspect, I hope some of our learned participants in the symposium will bring out arguments to agree or disagree with my observations.

********

 

SCULPTURE DISCUSSION

Richard Edwards: I would like to raise one question. Yesterday particularly it

seemed to me one of the major questions that was involved in our discussion of ceramics and  lacquers had to do with the question of whether or not these were Chinese.  And in view of the notion of a very centralized control of style in sculpture I wonder whether you could comment on this in relation to the products of this centra1ized,  cont rolled style.  Would you consider this sculpture as being something else?  Can we define it in terms, in other words, of the Chinese idiom, or must we define it in terms of China plus something else, or maybe something else plus China?

 

Wai-kam Ho:  I tried to point out the importance of the introduction of a universal and officially reinforced code of proportion and iconography during the Yüan period which tends to overrule or unify cultural diversities.  I think many of the Chinese sculptors more or less had a part in the formulation of some of the basic formulas which were ultimately dictated by the supervisors of the projects, usually a Tibetan or a Nepalese.    But I would say you had to consider in this large body of Yüan artisans and craftsmen, that the racial composition was extremely mixed.  Of course the large part--the majority--was still Chinese, but then quite a number were Tibetans, Nepalese, or even people from as far as Samarkand in Central Asia.  I would say, in general, the sculpture in the known sites, such as, for example, in Chü-yung-kuan or the cave at Hangchou, these are mostly the works of Chinese or native sculptors because in addition to the foreign influence, clearly there is evidence of a Chinese background of the artists.    On the other hand, I think this is not easy to say about the images which are produced by the Bureau of Buddhist Images or the Bureau of Lost-wax Products.  In this case, I would think there could be work produced and designed by foreign artists.

 

Sherman Lee:   One of the interesting things of that type would be the dry lacquer figure in the Freer which unfortunately couldn't be in the exhibition. But there you have a Chinese process, a technique, which would be under the control of the central bureau with a kind of Nepalese-Tibetan idiom.

Wai-kam Ho:   Since you mention the Metropolitan and Freer dry lacquers--I just want to take this opportunity to illustrate another point which I didn't have a chance to elaborate on.  That is the importance of some small iconographical details in determining the date of the piece.  For example, in the Metropolitan dry lacquer there is a very particular kind of headdress, a kind of ring or band on the head.   Now, this same headband also appears on the British Museum seated bronze Water-moon Kuan-yin in the exhibition which Basil. Gray seems to think is much earlier than we thought,  it being usually attributed to late T'ang-Five Dynasties.  This is almost impossible for a very simple reason. Because this headband is probably the most characteristic sign of one special Buddhist sect in the Yüan Period called T'ou-t'o-tsung or Dhuta in Sanskrit. Dhūta is a kind of wandering monk who never shaves his head and observed certain ascetic rules in the Chinese tradition.   In the middle of the fourteenth century this particular sect was extremely popular in the coastal provinces in China, sometimes also known as the Pai-yün-tsung or the Sect of the White Cloud. As far as I know only the T'ou-t'o-tsung priest wore this type of headband.  It was never worn by the monks of other sects; and this particular sect was never officially recognized before the fourteenth century.

 

Sherman Lee: To avoid any confusion, you refer not to the big Metropolitan seated Buddha but to the one with the leg hanging down, quite upright, with a marked headband?

 

Wai-kam Ho:  Yes.

 

Ch'eng Hsi:  We know that the Mongols had adopted Lamaism as the national religion and many Lama monks 1ike Hphags-pa and Yang-1ien-chen-chia were appointed as national tutors who were the most powerful people in the reglious world at the time. We know that Yang-lien-chen-chia was responsible for making many statues in Fei-lai-feng in the Hangchou area.  Originally, if he was really responsible for that task there should have been many Tantric school statues made in that area.  But why is it that Tantric school figures are so rare in the Hangchou area?

 

Wai-kam Ho:  I don't think they are really that rare, because there are quite a

number of figures one could definitely consider as esoteric or Tantric. in the Fei-lai-feng group.  On the other hand, I think Yang-lien-chen-chia was not the only one who was responsible for the creation of these Hangchou caves.  It is very complicated to discuss this problem.  Yang-lien-chen-chia's position at the time of the beginning of the Yüan was as chief of the Buddhist church south of the Yangtze River.  This is not the same as the Hsüan-chen-yüan but its forerunner.  Apparently, before 1288, the jurisdiction of the central office of the Hsüan-chen-yüan and its provincial branches as well as the local Buddhist church had not been clearly defined.    It is difficult to say which was more responsible for the sculptural projects at Hang-chou. For example, as I mentioned in my talk that two of the well-known images were commissioned by the prime minister himself, T'o-t'o, who was at the same time head of the Hsiian-chen-yüan, and the other by an official of the local Buddhist church in Suchou who must have also participated in the project.

 

Ch'eng Hsi:  There is a small point--I realize that Yang-lien-chen-chia was the Chiang-nan Shih-chiao tsung-t'ung.  He asked the craftsmen to make his own image on top of the mountain and afterward we heard that it was damaged and removed by the people of Hangchou. Is there any other evidence or proof that some similar works were damaged together with these statues?

 

Wai-kam Ho:  I don' t know how to answer this question. For one thing, I am suspicious about this whole business of Yang-lien-chen-chia because I think most of the stories about him are by tradition, handed down by the loyalists or sympathizers of the Sung Dynasty rather than by historical record.  Although we do know this man existed and his official position is the one as described by tradition. As for the kind of story about his sculptura1 portraiture on top of the Fai-lai-feng, I don't think you can really prove this with any historical evidence.

Wen Fong:  I have a question from one of our younger colleagues.  Would it be possible to ask about the lasting effects of Yüan sculpture?  Wouldn't the Sinization of the Tibetan style insure some continuation if the Tibetan influence in Chinese sculpture had a permanent effect on the style of later periods?

Wai-kam Ho:  I think so. I think after the Yüan Dynasty although there were efforts to break away from these foreign influences, some of the elements had already become an integral part of the native tradition and I think never disappeared.

Sherman Lee:  Ming Buddhist sculpture certainly looks the way it does, I mean heavy, because of the Tibetan influence that came in Yüan.  I would like to make a comment.    There's the group of the ch'ing-pai Buddhist images which have been assembled in the exhibition. I think they form a very coherent and very interesting stylistic group and also from a purely qualitative point of view are superior to later sculpture in fluidity and character than perhaps most of the standard wood sculpture.  They seem to me related in style to the seated dry lacquer figure in the Freer.  And I would strongly suspect there are sitting around in museum storages or in dealers' warehouses or maybe even on exhibition, works that are catalogued as Tibetan or Nepalese of uncertain but fairly early date, which would probably be related to this group.   I think if people kept their eyes open we might find some very interesting material.

 

Wai-kam Ho: I usually am of the opinion that quite a number of those so-called

Tibetan pieces--early Tibetan pieces—were actually products of these government workshops in North China I mentioned in the talk.

 

Sherman Lee: I think the kind of quality represented in the little gilt bronze demon from Seattle, the kind of technical quality-gilding and everything else — is significant.    If this is Yüan, which we believe it to be, a great many pieces could be called Tibetan for purely erroneous reasons.

 

Wen Fong:  I would be interested to hear your comments on the trade formula as you call it. In your very wide readings of texts, did you run into anything that suggests any significant change in the trade formulas for the sculptures of the period?

Wai-kam Ho:  No. Actually the materials about this type of thing are very rare. The material I got came from only two sources. Both are miscellaneous notes written at the end of the fourteenth century or the beginning of the Ming period.

Wen Fong:  Of course in painting we have two very good texts, one was early and one late.    I think the early one relates beautifully with what you mention, but I'm just wondering if there are any later comments on sculpture that suggest Yüan?

Wai-kam Ho:  No, as you know, I don’t think sculpture has been considered so highly by the Chinese critics, so it has never been given much consideration in the literature.    Indeed, that1s one of the difficulties.

 

George Lee:  At the beginning of his excellent paper, the speaker stressed the

relatively comfortable material situation for the artisans and their adequate social position.  This is somewhat at variance with the picture that we receive in the Memoirs of … 1322 of the pottery industry where there seems to have been a great deal of misery and poverty.  Could you cite for us some of the sources that you used to arrive at your opening conclusions.

 

Wai-kam Ho:  You mean about the centralized control?

 

George Lee:   Yes, about the relative material wealth of the artisans and about the early attitude towards them, I think it was seventh rank in tenth position in the social order.  Were you using the official histories?

 

Wai-kam Ho:  For the social order?  This has never been mentioned in the official history.    This was a tradition based primarily on two pieces of evidence from the early Yüan period, by two loyalist hermits surviving from Southern Sung. This theory about social position has never been verified by any official record. I think this is more or less a kind of popular tradition rather than something that was officially established.    As for the organization of the crafts and craftsmen, I think one of the most important sources is the administrative code of the Mongols, the Yüan Tien-chang.

Sherman Lee: Would there be any difference, for example, in the social position, remuneration, and so forth, within, let's say, the affairs of Ching-te-chen, the porcelain factories from Yüan to Ming, between ordinary workmen who were collecting clay, pounding clay, and the craftsmen who were the finishers and painters?

 

George Lee:  I can't answer that in terms of Yuan. In terms of Sung there doesn't seem to be any. For instance, in the economic history a whole group of people are listed, really one after the other, with no distinction made.

 

Sherman Lee:  Did that reference give their position as seventh in a ranking of ten? Did that come from the Mongol history or did that come from this other source?

Wai-kam Ho:  As I said, it is from an essay by one of the Southern Sung subjects.

I think it is Cheng Ssu-hsiao. There is a painting in the Yüan exhibition of the ink orchid which is by him.

 

Michael Sullivan:  Just a comment. I was wondering how literally one should take

these texts.  They might be declarations of intent on the part of the government rather than actual systems which obtained. One thinks of the duties for instance.

 

Wai-kam Ho: No, because the official history is not the sole source, you see. I

used this because it is the most easily accessible source.  There are numerous tomb epitaphs written for some of the craft officials in the central or local

government and we can reconstruct from them rather accurately quite a lot of things about the system—where the artisans came from, how one center of textiles was transferred to another because of the removal of a whole group of craftsmen and so forth. They are numerous.  There are really a great number of epitaphs still surviving which you can use to support and reinforce this official history.

(unidentified woman):  Can we visualize these people as being on regular employment or were they paid for each thing that they did?

 

Wai-kam Ho:  I think they were paid primarily by wage, not by pieces.  But at the same time, as I mentioned in the talk, they were also given land.

 

(unidentified woman):  But as in medieval Europe, they couldn't move that land.

 

Wai-kam Ho:  The land was not transferrable.  And as I said, there was a maximum limit for a land grant of a hundred "acres."

Away from a Definition of Yüan Painting JAMES CAHILL

University of California, Berkeley

 

I was very pleased yesterday when, during and after Professor Suzuki's talk, some of the issues and questions that I want to bring up today were raised already, so this is in a way a continuation of the directions that the discussions were already going in yesterday morning.  An occasion of this kind, with so many good Yüan paintings brought together, can, of course, allow us to pursue solutions to individual prob1ems but one of the main advantages of it is the rare opportunity it provides to address oneself again to more of a general problem, the problem of "What is Yüan painting?" I started out to do so, with the idea of calling my talk "Toward a Definition of Yuan Painting."  But it became apparent as I went on that the title Dr. Lee just gave you was more suitable.  So that is what it is:  "Away from a Definition of Yüan Painting."

 

When I speak of defining or a definition I mean, of course, trying either to fit Yüan painting into some concept, or to find a concept that seems to fit it--that makes sense out of it, so to speak, to our satisfaction.  In the simplest sense, of course, the definition of Yüan paintings is very easy.  It is that painting which was done in China between the fall of the Sung Dynasty in 1275 or 1280--whatever date you take--and the beginning of the Ming Dynasty in 1368.  But this is a definition that has no historical meaning at all; and insofar as we are humanist scholars, we insist on some kind of meaning, on making sense out of it.  At the same time, we have to realize that it is not a situation in which we arrive at a single true, or right, answer.  We do not reach a meaning in the sense that you find it, and there it is, permanent and immutable.  We have, instead, something that we make ourselves, a man-made concept.  We argue, for instance, sometimes over such questions as, Is Yüan painting realistic?  This seems to me a question like: Is Mr. Humphrey a liberal? If you could define your term to the agreement of everybody, and if you find some consistency in your subject, you could answer the quest ion.  But since neither is true, obviously you can't.  And I think that that is exactly the kind of question this is.

 

It is useful, I think, to review at the beginning the various "images" of Yüan painting, "images" in our popular misuse of the term, that have prevailed at different times and places.  I won't do this in detail.  That is another lecture (which I gave actually the day before yesterday in Ann Arbor), and I won't go into it at any great length.  The fact is that Yüan painting seems very different, as if it were scarcely the same thing--and in a sense it is not the same thing--to people of different times and places.  But it is good to realize this, and to realize where we stand in relation to the history of the study of Yüan painting.

 

To go through these "images" very quickly:  at the very beginning, in the early Ming period, the Chinese saw Yüan painting not so much as a kind of unified entity, but as a repertory of good, useful styles worthy of imitation, associated with certain great masters whom they imitated.  I refer to artists from Wang Fu through Shen Chou,say.  For them, of course, the ones who really mattered were the literati painters, the Four Great Masters and their friends and following.  And what they imitated were the innovations, the fresh styles, things they found useful for their own painting, and admirable, and viable, as a lot of Yüan painting obviously wasn't by that time.  With Wen Cheng-ming and his following,  something a bit different comes in.  It is not so much a matter of using a style to make a better landscape, but rather of doing "a Wang Meng" or "a Ni Tsan"; sometimes it is less good as a landscape, one feels, because of the element of Wang Mengism; and Wang Mengism

becomes the very subject of the picture, its theme, its reason for being.  This is especially true of some absurd late Ming pictures called "Wang Meng style," which are crowded with millions of tiny forms but with no structure, or covered with dots all over, and are dreadfully dull as landscapes.  Or we have terribly sparse, thin things called "style of Ni Tsan," which scarcely have an existence except as performances in the Ni Tsan manner.

 

With Tung Ch'i-ch'ang, something a bit different again; now what was previously a preference becomes more than that, a doctrine or a dogma.  For him, Yüan was a concept; and Yüan was thought of more as a unity so that painters now speak, more than before, about doing a picture "after a Yüan master" or "in the style of a Yüan master," in a kind of homogenous sense.    And of course for Tung, Yüan was the great age of his Southern School, and it was the right thing to do as opposed to the wrong thing, which was, of course, the Northern School--and so on.  All this becomes a doctrine, and so it remains down to modern times among Chinese scholars.  Yüan painting, for them, is made up of works of the Four Great Masters and a few others.  This they think of as the core, the essential Yüan painting, to which everything else is peripheral.

 

If you were to move over to Japan you would find something almost totally different. For the Japanese, until quite recent times, Yüan was the latter and less interesting half of an entity called "Sogen-ga," meaning Sung and Yüan painting, and if you look through old books on "Sogen-ga" you find at the back of the book a few plates devoted to a very diverse group of pictures, usually loosely placed—although sometimes for good reason-in the Yüan period.  But for the Japanese it was an aftermath of Sung. And for them what mattered in Chinese painting was Sung painting--chiefly, as we know, works of the Academy and its imitators, including birds and flowers; orthodox Buddhist painting; and Ch'an or Zen painting.  That was the core of it, and it was the aftermath of those schools in the Yüan which made up, in turn, Yuan painting. This is no longer true among the good Japanese scholars at all.  For instance, Professor Suzuki yesterday argued for a clear distinction between Sung and Yüan, a break, which I think is more the way other people would feel these days.

The early Western view of Yüan painting followed the Japanese, as in so  many ways we followed Japanese scholarship.  Museum curators would put a painting in the Yüan Dynasty which they wouldn't quite dare call Sung. I think it was Dr. Nelson Wu yesterday who suggested "Sung only not as good" as the old definition of Yüan. It is one which, again, I think we have largely cast off.  Yüan painting in the Chinese sense, however, did not begin really to be considered in the West until fairly recent times.  Werner Speiser in 1931 published an article in Ostasiatische Zeit-schrift, "Die Yuan-Klassik der Landschaftmalerei," in which he tried to express a view of Yüan more in 1 ine with the Chinese view.  He pointed out, rightly, that Occidental studies had been over-influenced by the Japanese and tried to correct this.  Actually, Speiser in his article, reproduces six paintings of which five I don't think we would take seriously any, more as possible Yüan works at all. But that was because he was working from reproductions, and it was a new subject.

Now, with more access to paintings, with exhibitions, with photographs, the Palace Museum things becoming available, and so on, we have gradually, I think, come to see Yüan in terms of a limited number of monuments, of things which we bring in whenever we talk about Yüan, when we give a lecture or write a book, or whatever. This is a view much more in line with that of the Chinese, in which the monuments are very often the same ones they would consider to be the monuments, the "Fu-ch'un Mountains" scroll of Huang Kung-wang, the "Autumn Colors" of Chao Meng-fu, and so on.   This is, to a degree, as it should be; it is not a point of view I would necessarily argue with.  If you are writing a book, goodness knows, and you have 100 plates for all of Chinese painting, and you want to choose some for Yüan, you do choose the great monuments.  If you are giving a lecture and have however many slides to cover the Yüan period in class, you choose your monuments very carefully, the more significant ones that seem really to represent what matters in the Yüan. At the same time, this has its dangers.  It is limiting.  When one seeks to go beyond the monuments, one is in danger of being too bound up in them.  I think this approach also works against the possibility of seeing Yüan painting as an intelligible, diverse and yet somehow coherent entity, as I would like in the end to see it.

 

The present exhibition challenges the "great monuments" approach very nicely, and leads us to rethink the whole question of how to define Yüan painting. I would like to propose still another concept of Yüan, a revolutionary one, so radical that I put it before this learned gathering with real trepidation. It is that for the time being, for a little while, until we can do better, we define Yüan Dynasty painting as that painting done in China between the fall of the Sung in 1280 and the beginning of the Ming in 1368.

 

This may sound as though it is moving away from a definition of Yüan painting (hence my title); it may sound like coming full circle, or going back to "go."  But I don't think we should rule out great areas of painting as significant, as belonging to Yüan painting as we should eventually see it (to the extent that we eventually do see it as an entity) until we understand them better, until we have worked through the material more, until we have solved more of those problems of authenticity which, as Professor Suzuki said, are still basic obstacles to our studies and which obviously have to be solved before we can really go very far.

Actually, my "new definition" isn't very revolutionary at all.  The exhibition has, I think, been selected on the assumption that everything is relevant which happened in China in this period.  That may be exaggerating, but seems generally true.  Also, I remember very well my own days in Kyoto when I was studying with Professor Shimada, when there was strongly implanted in me the belief that one should see a period such as this, to some extent, in terms of separate strands, lineages, vertical developments which can be understood—and to a degree have to be understood — in themselves before one can really effectively make the horizontal cuts and say that everything that is produced between this and this moment in time, within this particular vertical development, is part of Yüan painting, is that much of Yüan painting.  To be sure, you have to see it both horizontally and vertically, like the warp and weft of ancestry; but the importance of the vertical aspect is often ignored.  It was, as I say, brought home to me, by the writings and conversations of Professor Shimada, who has traced local schools of painting, and seen the importance of separate developments in this way, and writes in this vein in some of his general writings on painting.

Having made this not so very revolutionary suggestion, then, I am obliged to say what the significance of it would be, or the implications of it would be, for the study of Yüan painting.  They are, I think, simple.  If the Yüan is not seen as a lump, it needn't be treated as a lump; and if it isn't, then it is not necessary that every statement we make about painting of the Yüan Dynasty, in order to be valuable and valid, apply to all of it.   This doesn't sound very profound, but I think it is important.  We can, in other words, work toward an understanding of Yüan painting, even a definition of Yüan painting, as a whole by understanding a series of related but separable developments first.  Actually, I don't mean to make this too much a matter of priority, to say we have to do this before we do that.  Obviously we do several things at once.  I mean only that we shouldn't neglect, while pursuing the "big picture," that approach which understands it in terms of a cluster of developments that can be, and should be, separately considered.  For pictures that have a firm place in such a vertical lineage (and I will speak in a moment of those that don't, to clarify the distinction) seeing them in the context of such a lineage and defining their position in it will usually be the most effective and trustworthy way to determine their age, far more so than any system that sets up, long before we are really in a position to do so, rules or principles that are supposed to apply to Yüan painting as a whole, and judges them according to those.  In fact, in a great many cases, as I shall try to show today, if the painting doesn't fit the rule, it is the rule that should go and not the painting.

 

Some of these vertical strands, as we know from the exhibition, reach backward, had their greatest strength in the Sung; others reach forward.  This is of course Dr. Sherman Lee's distinction in his catalogue essay, between the conservative and the progressive sides of Yüan painting, or the traditional and the innovative as he calls them.  The latter, the progressive, the innovative, are of course by far the more important; but they are also the more difficult to deal with.  There is a terrible problem of forgeries all the way through Chinese painting, but it is worse with the Four Great Masters and others whom the Chinese collectors especially prized. These artists are also harder to deal with because they do stand apart.  The great artist does not fit simply or easily into history.   He establishes his own tradition, in a sense.  You can't fit him in so easily as you can a minor artist working in the tradition of Kuo Hsi, say, in the 14th century, who somehow falls into place in a way that Huang Kung-wang never will.  I think that a solution to the knottier problems in Yüan painting wi11 become easier when some of these somehow more manageable ones have been solved, and when by this means we come to a wider understanding of what Yüan painting is.  Finally, as I suggested yesterday, I believe very firmly in understanding any artist partly in terms of his context, what he does being to some extent motivated by his response to the particular artistic situation he finds himself in; and that means you have to understand his context too, as I will suggest toward the end of this talk.

 

Instead of dealing today mainly with the Four Great Masters, or the works ascribed to them in the exhibition, I want to spend most of my time on the conservative side of Yüan painting, which is actually more strongly represented in the exhibition. I will speak very briefly of the other side of Yüan painting at the end.  All the way through, I do not mean to speak with any claim to having solved the problems but only to suggest approaches, try to indicate ways in which it seems to me one could attack the problems.

 

I begin now, not with a tradition of school of painting or an artist or anything like that, but rather with one particular aspect of style which seems to me interesting in this period (slide:  section of Hsia Kuei "Pure and Remote View") and that is the use of ink tonality and gradations of ink values.  If we go back a century before the Yüan, ca. 1200, and think of the great achievements of that time, what immediately comes to mind is of course the school of Ma Yüan and Hsia Kuei, as very properly it should.  Again, one could say that Southern Sung has been seen a bit too much as a homogeneous thing; there are other schools of painting active; but that is another subject, another lecture.  Among the qualities that make Hsia Kuei a great painter-there are many of them, of course — one, as everybody rightly says, s his very masterful handling of ink values.  He represents in some ways the real pinnacle of the ink monochrome technique, beyond which it was scarcely to go in the following centuries, a culmination of something that had been developing over a long period and is now used with unprecedented effectiveness in distinguishing planes of depth, in separating the parts of the picture, in clarifying the composition on the picture plane, in giving bulk to the rocks in a way I will suggest a bit later, and for other purposes, such as suggestions of light and shadow; but also for decorative value.  Obviously, his placing of dark accents through the painting serves this purpose too.

 

Now, among the principles which seem to underlie most stylistic series or developments in Chinese painting, one of the most consistent and reliable and useful--I speak from my own experience—is the principle by which traits of style or elements of style which originally have representational value and seem somehow derived from first-hand observation of nature gradually harden into conventions, are used with less and less regard for their original pictorial function, are used more schematically or mechanically.  One cannot find here in Hsia Kuei's picture any obvious scheme in the use of ink.  The trees, for instance, are not treated as silhouettes of distinct ink value; there is a constant fluctuation through the whole thing.  As I say, you can't really make up rules for it.

 

(slide:  section 1 of Boston Museum of Fine Arts "Tung Yüan" scroll)--This is a painting which at one time of course was if anything better known to everybody than the Hsia Kuei, the so-called Tung Yüan in Boston, a painting which has been pushed back and forth over the centuries in date, and there is still no general agreement. Many people would place it somewhere around the end of Sung, which I think would be my choice; conceivably the beginning of Yüan; anyway, somewhere around that juncture. Several people have noted the similarity in some respects to the painting in the Tomb of Feng Tao-chen, who died in 1265, published several years ago in Wen-wu magazine. At any rate it is a different thing from the Hsia Kuei in important respects. There is a much more schematic use of ink gradations in the trees, with flat silhouettes of dark trees set against slightly lighter ones, and these in turn against somewhat lighter.  We have a kind of stepped gradation of ink tone.  The use of dimmed ink passages for distance and fog is of course similar in Hsia Kuei and "Tung Yüan," but the drawing of the slopes and the crests of the hills are treated more uniformly throughout the whole of the "Tung Yüan" composition, the shading downward to suggest mist below is done in a much more uniform way.  All of this, in other words, seems to follow rules much more than it would in Hsia Kuei's picture.  This kind of thing (pointing) where you have one silhouette set against a lighter silhouette; or here (pointing); and every little group will have exactly, or very much, the same gradations or range of ink values from dark to light, regardless of its position in the whole composition.  We are moving into something more schematic, more obviously calculated.

 

(slide:   detail of "Fan K'uan" now called "Anonymous Yüan" in Brundage Collection)-This could be described as a more decorative use of ink tone, more schematic, however you want to say it.  Here is a detail from a picture in the Brundage Collection. It used to be called "Fan K'uan," and was so published in Kokka; it is now catalogued as Yüan, I think probably rightly.  Here you see another example of this kind of repetition of tree silhouettes, except that here, instead of moving simply from dark to lighter to lightest, from foreground to background, he varies this, to keep it from being too simple and schematic, by having in the middle distance a group of trees exhibiting the whole range from dark to light, with a sudden, an inexplicable emergence of a dark branch there.  These two paintings agree in interesting ways.  The treatment of this crest and the misty hollow, is really quite like; actually, the whole use of ink, which is what I am talking about now, the fondness for a misty area with a dim silhouette,  is exactly the same--here's the temple.  These are motives; I am not speaking of them as matters of style, which they aren't.  Still, I think that they are indications of where we should place the painting, which is in the Yüan period.    The use of ink tonality, on the other hand, is a matter of style, and one can see from late Sung and early Yüan landscapes the direction that this particular aspect of style is going in at that time.

 

(slide:  detail of landscape ascribed to Fan K'uan, unpublished, in the Freer Gallery of Art, no.  19.127)--A detail from a painting which is on a much lower artistic level than anything else we have seen so far.  Once more, the same kind of pattern of superimposed silhouettes, each tree being treated as a flat area of distinct value. Here it is not just dark to light; the artist has followed distantly the Fan K'uan tree convention, in which the trees are drawn with fine leaf patterns for the foreground tree.  By this time, it has little basis really in any natural appearances.  But the progression goes from one to another, darker to lighter, within each group, characteristically; you move from one thing to another.  I will bring this picture back for another purpose a bit later.  Similarly schematic and routine are the treatment of the raindrop tsun convention, the texture strokes, and the parallel folds of the mountain.  It was Professor Shimada who discovered on this painting a little inscription on the lower corner, not by the artist but by somebody who saw it in the sixth year of Chih-yüan.  There were two Chih-yüans in the Yüan Dynasty, but the date 1340 seems the more likely of the two possible ones.  Anyway, the painting probably was not very old when this person saw it, and probably represents a degenerate Yuan Dynasty stage of the Fan K'uan tradition.

 

(two slides)  The one on the left, of course, is very well known; it is the "Persimmons" attributed to Mu-ch'i.  There is no positive evidence for the attribution.  It could be a bit later.  It is not one of the solid works of Mu-ch'i, signed or provided with a seal.  The other is an anonymous picture, maybe early Yüan, in the exhibition (no. 247).  All I wanted to point out was the appearance, in both these, of our very systematic use of stepped gradations of ink tone.  You have in each case the darkest element nicely placed in the center, and then something next darkest, a bit lighter, next to it; then two things a bit lighter than that--not perfect parallels in the two pictures but close enough--and then something still lighter. In the case of the persimmons, of course, it is not a matter of us ing the tone to distinguish relative distance from the viewer.  All I am pointing out is this close similarity in a schematic, stepped progression of ink gradations, which has in both cases the effect of unifying the picture in a very simple but satisfactory way.  The focus is, of course, on the darkest central element.  Everything else relates to it in a very logical manner.  It is a matter of near-repetition of shapes; all the bamboo stalks are the same shape, the persimmons have slight variations but are basically the same shape and they are seen as a single image, as a well unified orderly picture, because of this very effective device.  Such a way of putting together a painting I think you would find used just at this juncture, late Sung-early Yüan, and not much earlier or later that I can think of (correct me later, if so).  For one thing,  this is exactly the period when so many painters (including the Ch'an masters) were trying to so simplify and unify their pictures that they could be absorbed in a single glance and so make an impression of immediacy; for another, this more conscious use of ink values naturally would follow the age of Hsia Kuei, since in any stylistic series, when the Chinese can be observed to have mastered something perfectly as Hsia Kuei did the control of ink values, the next step is characteristically a more conscious, still very effective but more systematic use of the same thing.  We can see this happening at many points in the history of Chinese painting.

 

(slide:   whole of "Fan K'uan" in Freer Gallery)--So I think this is a feature of some Yuan painting; I am not saying it is true of all Yüan painting; that is exactly what I am trying to say one can't do, make statements that are necessarily going to apply to everything. I say only that some Yüan paintings can be characterized, and perhaps eventually identified, on such criteria.  This would be, that is, one of many different criteria that one would use in attempting the dating of paintings. One obviously can't establish a stylistic series just on this one element of style, and I certainly didn't mean to; but it's useful. It is one of many elements that could be useful.

 

The picture now before us is the "Fan K'uan" in the Freer Gallery.  It is in many ways a deplorable production.  The inscription I mentioned is down here, in the lower right corner.  The painting is a very mannered, routine performance by some minor artist of, I would think, the Yüan Dynasty.  As for the inscription, one could always be fooled by the very clever forger, but I don't think it is the kind of inscription that someone would add as a forgery, partly because it does not help a Fan K'uan picture that much to have a little note saying somebody saw it in 1340.  I should really have something from the Fan K'uan tradition of Ming date to put beside this.  The standard first reaction to this picture—and the reaction of some of my students, actually—is that it must be Ming.  The danger, I think, and the mistake one makes is in supposing that a certain stage in the hardening and degeneration of any tradition must be later in absolute chronology, rather than (as is the truth) merely late within that particular development or series.  We tend to believe that all the comparable stages of different traditions must all be coeval, and (in the case of such mannered works as this) belong necessarily in the Ming period or later; whereas actually a stylistic tradition that begins at one time will reach this stage after a certain period of time and another which began earlier or later will reach it at a completely different time.  At any rate, the Ming paintings of the Fan K'uan type, as for instance the one in Princeton, reproduced in the old edition of the Rowley Principles, are really quite different in many respects, without nearly so much as this of the old manner of shading, or use of tsun, or these furrowed rocks; not nearly so much of a real sense of misty space as remains even here, or of bulk in the rocks.  At any rate, I myself would take it as a very minor, unimportant example of Yüan painting, when such debased, mechanical rendering of certain conventions was current within this particular school, the school of Fan K'uan.  What I would like to suggest is that we can trace many elements of the Fan K'uan style through a series of paintings, in which, I think, we would find a consistent direction taken by just about all these elements.  For instance, look at this dreadfully obtrusive way of doing the rock contours, drawn with a swinging movement in a series of little arc-shaped strokes, each one of which ends in a dark lump.  Here, it looks very, very mannered and artificial.

(slide:  detail, Palace Museum "Sitting Alone by the Stream" ascribed to Fan K'uan, 300 Masterpieces, no.  67)--This is a work which I think would be perhaps somewhat earlLer, although I wouldn't be sure; even so, it's not going to be earlier than the end of Sung,  I don' t think.  Maybe it is early Yüan, I don't know; perhaps a bit earlier.  Echoes of Li T'ang in the rocks rule out a pre-Southern Sung date; and there is something that perhaps reminds one of Kao K'o-kung in the way these trees and the mist are handled.  The sudden and dramatic shifts in ink tone from dark to light are more characteristic of the end of Southern Sung and Yüan than of anything earlier, and so on.  There are various features  in the composition, quite apart from the overall plan, involving a certain lack of organic construction and a certain separateness and lumpiness in the terrain forms, which would be for me features indicating a date around this time.  But here you can see too the kind of contour drawing I pointed out before, swinging arcs coming out to little points wherever any two of these arcs intersect.  This is a component of the Fan K'uan manner for these later, mannered artists, who learned it in a way that has very little to do with its original function at all.  It is just something they learned, and the idea of comparing it with the appearance of a real rock would never have occurred to them.

 

(slide:   Fan K'uan, "Travelers Among Mountains and Streams," Chinese Art Treasure, no.  18)--Behind this, of course, is the real Fan K'uan, in which you can see what this strange convention comes from, but where it is not an obtrusive mannerism at all. It is, on the contrary, a very effective way of rendering the edge of a weathered rock mass.  It is not done schematically; the artist is not following a learned way of painting.  Apart from this, one could point out various things here, the absence of the kind of extreme dark-light shading, or the kind of sort of systematic gradation that I was speaking of in connect ion with the previous two paintings.

Now, the Fan K'uan tradition certainly makes up a very minor corner of Yüan painting, but it is one of the "vertical" series one could trace through Yüan; and the careful definition of the Yüan stage within it would bring one that much closer to understanding what was possible for painters in the Yüan Dynasty, what the limits of Yüan style are.  Because Yüan painting doesn't consist only of the core, but also of the fringes, the periphery.

 

(slides)--Moving on to another group entirely:  on the right we have one of a set of paintings by Hsueh-chuang or P'u-ming, active in the first half of the fourteenth century.  This is one of the set of four in the Tokyo Imperial Household Collection, written about very well and analyzed very well in Professor Chu-tsing Li's article (Archives for 1962), which seems to me one of the most valuable contributions in the study of Yüan painting, and altogether admirable.  He speaks very rightly about the depiction of the rocks with fei-pai, "flying white" lineament, this semi-calligraphic device, calligraphic in the sense that something to which at least the same name was applied was used in calligraphy.  But in this case this kind of drawing is used to define or represent the true form and roundness of the rocks, as he says, and there is a good sense of depth in the picture in which, again quoting, "the orchids by their turning reveal their existence in space."  He is absolutely right. The recognition of such qualities by Professor Li and some others in Yüan painting is a real contribution; it is rather the next (and less justifiable, I think) step where perhaps they go somewhat wrong:  moving from a recognition of these qualities in some Yüan painting to a content ion that they must be present if it is to be a Yüan painting.  Here I would differ, and here is exactly what I meant in referring to the idea that any statement that is valid for some part of Yüan painting must be valid for all of it, or it is not of any use.

 

I have put P'u-ming's painting beside the lovely little Cheng Ssu-hsiao orchid in the Abe Collection (cat. no. 236).  Now this of course is a different kind of thing; there is no intention of a spatial setting really, and one could argue very convincingly--and I think I would myself--that it agrees essentially in that the leaves seem to be turning properly in space, this modest little blossom does somehow come forward a bit through being treated in darker ink, and ink tonality is used very effectively to give it just the minimal kind of existence in space, so that it is not entirely out of line with P'u-ming at all.

 

(slide :  Po Tzu-t'ing, cat. no. 237)--Likewise, I think that this picture in the exhibition could be discussed in exactly the same terms as Professor Li used in discussing the other one.    A bit more flatness in the rock,  I think, but a similarly calligraphic drawing, rough treatment which nonetheless defines form, the way the ground seems to slope here, and the bunches of grass, or a kind of iris, or whatever they are, do seem to have depth through handling of ink tone, through overlappings--it all works very well.  This is the painting, of course, by Po Tzu-wen, a Yüan Dynasty Ch'an artist.

 

(slide :  Po Tzu-t'ing, "Old Tree," Sogen no Kaiga 80 left)--However, if we come to this, which is, I think, just as reliable a work of Po Tzu-t'ing, one of a pair in Japan, then what do we have?  We have, I think, overlappings which are not organically effective; we have something which is really quite flat, one part pressed against another with very little if any effect of any part coming forward or going back. We have fluctuations of ink tone without representational value which seem to be very much for their own sake, or for purely decorative effect.  We have what, from the point of view I referred to a moment ago, would be an almost unforgivably calligraphic style of drawing, which is, if anything, slightly closer to that kind of mannered calligraphy in the awful "Fan K'uan" than to anything that is mainly aimed at representing form.  Perhaps it would be possible to apply to this picture the kind of comment that was made very perceptively by Professor Fong in his recent piece on Tao-chi's calligraphy, in which he speaks of the "subtly three-dimensional" characters "like abstract dances in space," accomplished by varied turning of the brush and pressure on the brush, giving rise to a feeling of something which is three-dimensional.  But I don't think that is what is meant when Professor Li and others describe this quality in works they consider reliably Yüan.  So then what of this? Does the artist, by painting in this manner, by using the wrong set of Visual and Structural Principles, disqualify himself as a Yüan painter?  I don't think so. He is simply doing something else.

 

(slides:  Wu Chen, "Shadow of Yün-tang Bamboo," Ku-Kung shu-hua chi 7; "Bamboo and Rock," 300 Masterpieces 167)--The inalienable right of the artist to be doing something else is demonstrated also by such a pair as this, both of which seem to me good works of Wu Chen, both in the Palace Museum.  The suggestion has been made that this one ("Shadow")is a traced copy with filled-in outlining.  With this in mind I looked at it very carefully with members of the Ku-Kung staff, and I don't think so.  I think someone may have been deceived by a phenomenon which happens fairly frequently, in which one or a couple of 1ittle hairs of the brush will separate from the rest and make a thin streak outside, and parallel to, the edge of the brushstroke.  I can't see it, anyway, as a traced copy.  This other picture ("Bamboo and Rock") would be acceptable I think by any criteria that any of us could come up with as a very fine Wu Chen: a rock which, although not especially rocky--more like a bread loaf--is substantial; a very simply indicated recession to a shallow depth; bamboo leaves having a certain spatial existence through variation in ink tone and the way they are grouped.  This, on the other hand, is perfectly flat.  What then?  In this case we have, I think, in the testimony of old texts, a kind of justification for such painting.  The Chinese write quite early about bamboo drawn as if it were a shadow on a paper window, or a shadow thrown on a wa11 by a lamp; there is even a story that the former is the origin, as I recall, of ink bamboo.    And here is this, existing only on the plane surface, a solid black bamboo that is indeed shadow-like.  Well, does a shadow have depth? Does it have tonal values?  No, it can't, obviously.  In other words, you can't expect this kind of painting to have the same qualities as one done from a quite different conception, a different way of treating bamboo.    Again, one could say that through effective overlappings, this also has some implications of depth; but one could find others such as the very fine Wu Chan bamboo branch in the Freer Gallery, which I think don't, and which are for me at least nonetheless acceptable.  In other words, one must make allowances for the kind of painting it is.

 

slides:   Anonymous Sung "Old Tree, Bamboo, and Bird"; Chao Meng-fu "Old Tree, Bamboo, and Rock")--When we are confronted with something like this Wu Chen, or the very strange old tree picture by Po Tzu-wen, to speak of them as if naturalism or realism were to be the touchstone for this kind of painting misses the point.  I don't mean by this to deny the possibility, or indeed the necessity,  for making distinctions in age, authenticity, quality-all of these are nonetheless essential--but they have to be determined by comparison of materials that are really relevant to each other.  A good example of two paintings that can be so compared is this pair, one of which is signed "chao Meng-fu" in the Palace Museum (300 Masterpieces 147).    The other one is simply catalogued as "Anonymous Sung" (SV 155).  This pair is useful in talking about this genre of painting in class, in lectures; I suggest that if either is a real Chao Meng-fu, this ("Anonymous Sung") would have to be it, because the other is disqualified not only on the grounds of sheer quality but in such matters as the drawing of the rock.  Here in the "Anonymous Sung" work we see the fei-pai technique used very effectively to produce a rock that is intelligible in shape, with a real bulge coming forward from its surface, planted solidly in the earth.  The tree grows in a good, organic way, the way that Professor Li has written about so well in his articles on Tsao Chih-po and others; the bamboo exists, blown slightly by the wind, and has some depth; all this works.  In the other picture, I don't think it does.  First of all, the tree is quite stiff, and the rocks have no body; they are neither good calligraphy nor good rocks.  The "modeling strokes" on their surfaces do not give us any understanding of the shape of the rock, but are meaningless embellishments.  Moreover, the rocks do not seem effectively set in the earth; this trick of drawing a horizontal line across the bottom is not enough. The bamboo, as you can see, seems rather more mechanically rendered.    It is altogether a lesser picture.  If we put together all we have of paintings of this subject attributed to or after Chao Meng-fu, we can come to some idea of what a good work of this kind should look like; and the "Anonymous Sung" picture seems to answer to that image.   We still would not be justified, of course, in saying it must be a work of Chao Meng-fu; but if we talk only in terms of primary and derivative objects, there is no question of which is which here.

 

(slide)--If we move on into the Ming Dynasty and look, for instance, at this section of

a scroll in the Freer Gallery by Wang Fu, we will find the rocks inadequately implanted in the earth as in the "Chao Meng-fu."   We see also the same use of a long line for a slope, which does not somehow define the solid ground as effectively as one would want. Note the way the whole ground and water plane is tilted sharply.

 

(slide:   Hsüeh-chuang in Cleveland Museum, cat. no. 244)--By that kind of criteria, this picture in the Cleveland Museum would be, I think, perfectly acceptable to everybody.  It is another very fine Hsüeh-chuang, the bamboo blown in the wind 1ike so much of Yan bamboo,  the rock having exactly this kind of solidity,  substance, structure, all very effectively rendered with some rough brushwork, as in the others we saw.

 

slide:   handscroll attributed to Chao Meng-fu, Cleveland Museum, cat. no. 235)--Whereas by the same criteria, one might raise questions about this one.   One has to explain it, if one is to accept it, in some such way as Dr. Sherman Lee does in his catalogue, as a kind of "writing rather than painting."  In other words, you have to subject it to different kinds of criteria.  I don't mean here to make a positive or negative judgment of it, but it is more than a little uncomfortable in the lack of substance in the rocks, in the way the drawing does not really define the solid structure of the rock, in this kind of horizontal line which finishes off the bottom of a rock without really planting it in the earth very effectively.    Another criterion which might be used, but which I would like to speak against, is the way the bamboo leaves are treated in standardized groups of threes and fours.  Mr. Li Lin-ts'an at the Palace Museum in Taiwan wrote an article, which I think is a good start toward a useful way of approaching bamboo, in which he analyses different paintings of bamboo of different periods and finds certain conventions for treating the leaf groups or for the joints and so on, as characteristics of certain stages in the development of ink bamboo painting. The convention seen here, with four or five strokes making a unit, two projecting outward to the sides and two hanging down, a unit which you repeat as many times as you have to in order to produce a mass of bamboo leaves, he finds to begin in the early Ming period with painters such as Wang Fu and Hsia Ch'ang.

 

slide:  detail)--There is a Chinese term for this which Li Lin-ts'an (who writes some of the most fresh and unhackneyed English in our profession) translates as "an astonished crow in four strokes."  What it means, I think, is a crow startled into flight with its wings outspread.  This is something he finds to arise in the early Ming period.  However, Mr. Ho Wai-kam has pointed out in the catalogue that a very similar technique, the three-stroke type, making the character ko, is mentioned by some writer before 1310, who cautions against using it. It not only exists, that is, it is already getting a bit old fashioned, something you want to avoid.  So when one encounters this convention in a picture ascribed to the early fourteenth century, one can't reject the painting because the appearance of the convention then violates a criterion which Mr. Li Lin-ts'an had tentatively arrived at; it would be more proper, if the painting seems acceptable on other grounds, to wonder whether the convention may not have come into being sooner than we thought.  It is certainly a mistake to arrive prematurely at criteria which you then use to rule out further pictorial evidence, because when you get rid of your evidence, you can't go any further.  I think that is a very real danger.

 

(slide:   Teng Yü "Bamboo and Rock" cat. no.  246)--This picture is, I think, a quite good, genuine work of a little-known Yüan artist.  It seems perfectly genuine to me, anyway.   His name is Teng Tzu-yü, a mid-fourteenth century painter.   Here we have as identifiable a cluster of astonished crows as you can find, a very schematic and repeated way, of building up the bamboo.  This picture would be an argument against supposing that the "astonished crows" convention appeared only in the early Ming period.   Now observe the use of ink in the bamboo:  although there is some variation in tone, it is not, for me at least, especially effective in giving any great depth to it.  It seems, instead, a flat pattern.  The rock doesn't seem to be as substantial as some of the others we were looking at, or to have a really rocklike structure. I was pleased to see, when this was on view in the Princeton Museum, an explanatory label suggesting, as I would say myself, that the fact that the man is an amateur (and rather amateurish) painter means that we should not expect his works to agree in every respect with other works by other kinds of artists in the same period.  This is exactly the approach I believe in, and I was pleased to see it there in the Princeton Museum.

 

(slide:  Sogen no Kaiga 62, 62)--Going on to another category of painting: flowers. The painting on the right, as I think most of you know, is a detail from one of a pair of pictures in the Chion-in, in Kyoto.  There is a seal of an artist named Yü Tzu-ming, unknown but believed by Japanese scholars to be one of the family of specialists in lotus painting who worked down in Kiangsu Province, in Hsiu-nin, and there was one, probably of the same family, a certain Yü Ch’ing-nien, who was recorded as having been active in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century.  This picture is dated by the Japanese scholars, I think rightly, in the late Sung, and although the whole school is obviously very decoratively motivated, at the same time there is in this picture, in distinction to others we will see, enough of variation and shading in the color as it is used on the leaves, enough of relative--and I speak relatively--informality in the arrangement of the leaves and the flowers, that it ties in perfectly well with things like the Li Ti paintings in Japan, or what have you.  It agrees with them also in the extreme fineness and refinement of the outline drawing.  It's a good Southern Sung picture.  The other painting, which is a detail of one of a pair at the Tokyo National Museum, is also placed in the late Sung period generally by the Japanese scholars.  I would wonder myself if it weren't a bit later; I am inclined to think that it fits in better, on various grounds, with Yüan flower painting, and that the difference between these two pictures indicates something of the direction that such painting took from Sung into Yüan, that is, toward a greater emphasis on flat pattern, on the purely decorative.   Notice how this play of scalloped 1ine, which is very important in the picture throughout, making up, almost, the main formal theme. Important also is the reduction of color in the leaves to flat, perfectly flat, colors, without shading, really only two or maybe three even shades of green.  Notice also that the turning leaves seem more conventional, less convincing, here.  They don't really read as leaves in space at all.

 

(slide:  Sogen no Kaiga 65-6)--There is a good deal of evidence, I believe, that this is the direction flower painting takes as we go into Yüan.  Flower painting of this conservative kind,I am speaking of.  This picture, of course, is one of the pair in the Daitokuji, representing peonies, ascribed to Ch'ien Hsüan.  Although I think the attribution is not to be believed, the date is probably not far off.  Here we see, I think, the same phenomenon.    Leaves treated in terms of flat patterns, with the turnings not intelligible as anything happening in real space, and with the emphasis on decorative shapes and flat color.  It agrees in that sense with the lotus picture in the Tokyo Museum.  I think these are Yüan characteristics, some of which continue, altered, into the Ming, and later.  At the bottom is an earth slope, as you see, providing a minimal indication of space, which is a very different thing from, for instance, the real temporal, spatial setting you have, for example, in the Ts'ui Po picture of the eleventh century. It is a different matter entirely.  It is typically Yüan, although I don't think limited to Yüan, to have just a suggestion of a slope, space that goes back only a little distance, isolation, a suggestion that the thing does exist in a setting, and yet nothing is provided for you except the object itself and the simplest indication of the ground plane.  Seen in that context it isn't so difficult as some have found it to accept as works (slides) of Ch'ien Hsüan such pictures as these. One is a detail from the painting of "An Autumn Melon and Other Plants" in the Palace Museum (300 Masterpieces 128) which seems to me one of the really fine works of the artist, with just the kind of interest in flat pattern, flat use of color, leaves that turn only in a conventional way, that we have just been seeing.  The whole thing making, above all, a very lovely decorative pattern.  The other s1ide is a detail from one of the two Ch'ien Hsüan flower paintings, mounted in a single handscroll, in the Freer Gallery (Siren, VI/36a). (I was going to bring in one or the other of the two flower pictures ascribed to Ch'ien Hsüan in the exhibition, but found that my remembrance of them was not accurate — Sherman Lee suggested yesterday that he had the same experience--and so rather than bring up the question of which is better, and which if either is Ch'ien Hsüan, would rather leave them out.)  Anyway, both of these agree with the conservative kind of flower painting, in the direction I would see it taking from late Sung into Yüan, just Ch'ien Hsüan's period.  So that to require of these some kind of realism--spatial realism, textural realism; or convincing three-dimensional rendering I think is missing the point.  It amounts to rejecting a Yüan painting on the basis of criteria which in fact are more applicable to Sung painting.

 

(slides)--And contrariwise, the very criteria used by Professor Fong to reject certain paintings (such as the Cincinnati "Doves" ascribed to Ch'ien Hsüan, cat. no. 181) as Yüan works are the very ones that I use to characterize Yüan bird painting, as distinguished from that of Sung, in talking to my students.  I don't mean necessarily to argue in favor of the Cincinnati "Doves," but it is exactly this kind of reduction of the body of the bird to juxtaposed flat patterns, with a great loss of volume and body, that seems to me true of typical Yüan bird painting, such as the painting of a duck in the Chinese Art Treasures exhibition (no. 72) by Ch'en Lin who was a pupil of Chao Meng-fu.  This is in turn distinguishable, I think, from Ming, as is the case in any of these series I am talking about.  Beside it is the painting in the Freer Gallery, "Doves on a Flowering Branch," which used to be called Anonymous Sung; now it is ascribed to Wang Yüan (Siren VI/35).  There is a little seal of Wang Yüan in the upper right, which looks, at least to me, good; I think it's a fine Yüan painting, very likely by him.  I bring this in to point out another thing that happens, the next stage.  From the Sung stage we moved to a greater interest in linear pattern and contour drawing, and repeated shapes, as in the things we were just looking at, and from that, now, to the stronger and more calligraphic outline drawing. Each of these strokes has a very special calligraphic character, beginning with a slight swelling at one end tapering off elegantly at the other.  This is true of each stroke of each leaf. And the drawing is heavier than in the Ch'ien Hsüan things, which have very fine outlines, sometimes outline in colors. I don't mean to suggest that this is a steady, uniform progression, but generally I think this is the way it goes.  The artists become more interested in the pattern, and then move into this kind of calligraphic rendering; and then in Ming again something different.

 

(slides)--Now, moving on into another kind of painting, the "blue and green" landscape, we observe what appears to be a parallel, or analogous, or at any rate, definitely relatable development as we go from Sung into Yüan.   We are hampered in this very badly by the fact that the only two paintings that seem to be serious candidates, apart from an album leaf or two maybe, for Sung Dynasty "blue and green" landscape are in Peking and inaccessible for study.  I mean this picture, supposed to be by Wang Hsi-meng and dated 1113, and the scroll attributed to Chao Po-ch'u which we will see later. I don't know of others that look as convincing as these for the period.  This may be a copy, I don't know, I have never seen it.  It somehow looks right for the early twelfth century, for this style.  Here, at any rate, the blue and green colors, although used with a certain decorative intent, are not so clearly set apart as in the typical Yuan work of this sort, such as this landscape ascribed to Ch'ien Hsüan, where we have flat blue shapes and flat green shapes, clearly distinguished, or even as here a green shape superimposed on a blue shape.  In the Sung work, the Wang Hsi-meng (if it is his), there is still some real sense of space and distance, in other parts of this scroll even more than here; we have a distant view at one side, and the mountains seem to have a real bulk and height; the scale is handled in such a way as to give them something of the grandeur that one would expect in painting of this period. Although archaistic and a bit odd in a sense for late Northern Sung, it isn't entirely out of keeping; and it is, as I say, one of only two pictures of which I would find this to be true.  As for Ch'ien Hsüan, whichever of the ones ascribed to him you take--and I wouldn't pretend to have solved the problem of which is his, except that the Metropolitan Museum Kuei-chu-lai scroll in the exhibition (cat. no. 184) looks not as good as I remembered it and the other one (cat. no.  185) better, if anything—anyway, leaving that aside and bringing in as an example the last section of the Palace Museum scroll called "Waiting for the Ferry," we can observe a very definite interest in linear pattern and geometric patterns, something that is more overtly decorative, in which the grand-scale treatment of landscape is renounced, and everything is reduced in scale.  It's less ambitious in a way, with more oddities, obviously,in rocks such as this one (pointing); something very like it in the C. C. Wang "Wang Hsi-chih" picture.    The motif of mist on the river is likewise treated in a very conventional way and not quite convincingly.

 

(slide:  detail from "Lute Song" or "Parting at Hsün-yang" scroll in Kansas City)--If we think this has gone as far as it can go in the direction of unreality and linear pattern and schematic use of color and all this, then we can move on to Ch'iu Ying in the early sixteenth century and see that there was in fact still quite a long way to go.   The style here is obviously much more unnatural and fairyland-like; beside this, Ch'ien Hsüan seems still related to nature, involved with nature, in a way that this is not any more.  The Ch'ien Hsüan is still relatively intelligible, spatially; you can find your way back along the path, for instance; whereas Chiu Ying's picture is all much more flat pattern.  In that sense the Ch'ien Hsüan pictures fall where they should.  By the way, you can find just this kind of clear separation of areas of blue and green in, for instance, the Yung-lo Rung wall paintings, judging from the full-size facsimiles that I saw in Tokyo several years ago in an exhibition from mainland China.  So the idea that this kind of blue and green, very schematic and decorative blue and green, couldn't exist in Yüan would have to go in any case.  It doesn't dispose of the problem at all to say that the Chao Meng-fu "Autumn Colors" represents blue-green landscape in the Yüan.   That doesn't work.  What I am trying to say here is that there are great areas of Yüan painting which, if we insist on spatial realism and textural realism, consistent ground plane and all that, we simply have to throw out in toto: all of blue-green landscape, all of the "shadow" variety of ink bamboo, all of certain kinds of Ch'ien Hsüan and related flower painting, and so on; which I am unwilling to do.

 

(slide)--Here is the scroll ascribed to Chao Po-chü in Peking (Siren III/271) which I have never seen even in a color plate.  It's supposed to be in rich color, according to Siren, and to bear a signature.  It's a very impressive picture, seen in detail. After what we've been looking at, we can't help finding this much more intelligible in the construction of the mountain masses, something deriving from Northern Sung types really, although it's supposed to be after T'ang models.  A real space, even though he very deliberately, as part of the archaism, does away with mists and atmospheric perspective except for little bits of mist here and there, also quite schematic and with decorative outlines.  Note the scale, again, with very small figures and buildings.  The fan painting beside it has a Chao Meng-fu seal; I'm not arguing that it is a work of Chao Meng-fu but it seems a Yüan work of that school.  With this, we move again to something smaller in scale, something with a much greater emphasis on repeated contours, a kind of undulating line; the color I would omit because we don't have it in the Chao Po-chü.  At any rate, this would represent exactly the same progression from the Southern Sung into Yüan that we find in the other kind of blue-green landscape.  Another aspect of the comparison is that the later work represents a reduction of the more academic blue-green style to …

(slide) ... a manner that can be used by the amateur painter. This is a very important aspect of the paintings we are dealing with, because we are now dealing in a large part with scholar-amateurs.  The slide now on the screen is, of course, from Mrs. Perry's Ch'en Ju-yen scroll (cat. no. 264); it is on the cover of your catalogues, so you all know it very well.    It is a lovely picture but certainly the work of a much more amateurish painter than Chao Meng-fu, although a man of a very special and sensitive taste.  Putting it beside the Chao Po-ch, we can see that Ch'en Ju-yen preserves of the earlier type:  a row of mountains as a screen, and the foreground making a sort of stage with small trees and figures on it, rivers flowing out, and so on.  It belongs to this type, and falls exactly where it should, I think,  in this series.  I don't think you could fit it easily into the Ming Dynasty, when blue and green landscape is something else again.

 

(slide)--Without time to trace each of these down through time, I may not be presenting what seem to be very clear-cut cases; I'm only suggesting.  Now we look at some chieh-hua paintings, this fine-line architectural drawing, of which there are nice examples in the exhibition.  Of surviving early examples, these are for me the two finest perhaps,  this one attributed to Kuo Chung-shu in the Palace Museum, "Boats on the Snowy River" (300 Masterpieces 52) and the other of course a detail from the great Ch'ing-ming shang-ho t'u, "Spring Festival on the River," by Chang Tse-tuan, in Peking.  We see that this kind of painting in early times there was nothing at all incompatible between the most extremely detailed fine-line rendering and a real sense of body, bulk, substance, in forms.  The buildings are such, that you can walk into them, something can happen inside.  There are benches set back under this veranda.  The boats are quite substantial.  This is accomplished partly by very effective although limited use of washes, of ink or color, which tend to give some suggestion of shadow, make this (slide of boat) curve as it should.  But mos11y it is accomplished by the nature and quality of the drawing, which defines solid form.

 

(slide:  detail of Anonymous twe1fth century album leaf)- -In a Southern Sung picture, such as this, there is a tendency to reduce the building to flat pattern, to flatten it out.    Geometric surface pattern is much stronger.  You can still get into the rooms, in a sense, but there is more of an emphasis really on parallel lines and geometric designs.

 

(s1ide)  And then we get into Yüan, and surface pattern is essentially all that remains.    The painting by Hsia Yung in the exhibition (cat. no. 203) is rather dark, so I wil1 use a detail from one of a pair in the Freer Gallery (15.36) by the same artist.  By this time there is much less wash, or practically no wash at all, and a rendering of architecture that has less of implications of depth, or any real three dimensional existence.  You can't really move into the buildings in any effective way.  They lie much more on the surface, and there is much more interest in surface patterns, just as we are finding in other types of Yüan painting.  We have no real separation in depth; for instance, you don't really go back from this part of the building to that (pointing) in any visually effective way.  It is all very much on a plane.

 

(slide :  "Chü-jan, " Autumn Mountains in Palace Museum, probably by Wu Chen)- - I would like to point out that this tendency is not at all out of line (jumping for a minute over to the great masters) with, for instance, Wu Chen's typical way of drawing buildings, with the same kind of emphasis on parallel lines.  He does it in broader lineament, in a more capricious manner; there is a bit more sense that you can get into the buildings, to be sure; but it agrees essentially in just this love of linear pattern which, in a way, overcomes the architectural drawing as such.  He is playing on architectural drawing of the early or Northern Sung--see the buildings in the Yen Wen-kuei or Fan K'uan paintings--but it comes to something like the same end. I put this on instead of the architectural passage in the Freer "Fishermen" scroll, which is more controversial, of course — this is probably more acceptable to everybody.

 

(slides)--You could do the same thing with figure painting, moving from something like, this, Li Sung "Knick-Knack Peddlar" of 1210 (Skira 53),in which the figures are still drawn in a way that makes them seem to exist, to be able to move, articulate, with washes used quite effectively although very light, to something like this, the Wang Chen-p'eng picture in Boston (cat. no. 200).  The Wang Chen-p'eng features certain archaisms of Buddhist painting, things going back to pre-T'ang painting. But essentially it is quite flattened out and reduced to surface pattern, like the architecture in Hsia Yung. If there is a sense of depth at all,  it is accomplished by very slight shading which gives a kind of relief effect, rather like sculpture. It is not, I think, really the same kind of thing as the relative substantiality of Li Sung's figures.  Certainly some of the drapery folds are quite schematic.

 

(slide:  "Li Kung-lin," "General Kuo Tzu-i and the Uighurs," Chinese Art Treasures 29)--These are exactly the criteria on which one can reject, as having any possibility of being a Sung work, such a picture as this, the so-called Li Kung-lin that was in the Ku-kung exhibition, which is more like the Hsia Yung kind of fine line drawing, the Palace pictures we were just looking at, than anything belonging in Sung. This might actually be later than Yüan, but what I am saying is that I do not think it could possibly be earlier.  Richard Barnhart, in a very good piece of work on Li Kung-lin, his doctoral thesis which I read over the summer, has a generally admirable discussion of the development of calligraphic quality in line, in which he finds in the Yüan Dynasty the lineament for figures or other subjects acquiring a certain substance of its own, or having tactile qualities.  He is perfectly right, this is one of the things that happens in Yüan.  All I would object to would be the jump from that valuable observation to saying that if it doesn't have tactile qualities it can't be Yüan.  That is the real distinction I am trying to make.

 

(slide)--Now we turn to two more backward looking schools in the Yüan.  One is the tradition of Li T'ang.  Here is a detail I'm sure you will all recognize, from the Hsia Kuei scroll we saw at the beginning.  His rock, deriving from the Li T'ang type, is treated in terms of intersecting planes, as you can clearly see, and in terms of light and shadow; it is rock made up of faces variously lit, it has a solid structure achieved through those means, and while done with more freedom than Li T'ang would do it, is basically the same kind of thing.    I wrote an article on rocks ending at this point, so I don't Wish to go into it now in detail.    The other picture is in the Freer Gallery, ascribed to Hsia Kuei, published in Bachofer's History (pi. 109), and in any case I think a fine Southern Sung work.  It features a really admirable rock of this sort.  Again, the upper surface is treated as a plane slanting sharply, almost perpendicular to the picture plane, light falling on it, shadows below, the whole rock treated in quite an intelligible way.  The use of light and shadow is unambiguous; the rock has a real corporeality, real substance and structure.

(slide:  "Autumn," of the Kotoin "Li T'ang" landscapes, Sogen no Kaiga 94)--Going on a bit:    here is this picture which must be later than either of the other two, in spite of the Li T'ang signature.  It belongs to the same stylistic tradition, but we have moved into a stage in which the artist, while still doing the same kind of thing, is not quite letting it make sense.  We have here, for instance, a rock based on the Li T'ang type but not intelligible, more a free play of dark and light that does not quite work so far as defining the actual structure of this rock.  And throughout the picture, just the kind of decorative play, with light and dark spread more evenly around the whole picture surface, that I was speaking of toward the beginning. Also, among other later features, the beginning of a way of constructing the picture out of planes entering the picture from each side, like stage props, which reaches its culmination somewhat later, in Ming.  At any rate, I would see this as belonging somewhere around the end of Sung.  Hsia Kuei would have to precede it, for me at least, in many features.

 

(slide)--This pair of pictures, known I'm sure to most of you, are signed works of an artist named Sun Chün-tse, a Yüan Dynasty follower of the Ma Yüan school. They are in the Seikado in Tokyo (Sogen no Kaiga 113). In some of the features I was speaking of, they are not quite in the same lineage, belonging to the Ma Yüan type where the others derived more from Hsia Kuei.  But that is perhaps outside our present concern.  Anyway, look at the rocks here:  more of a tendency, as we can see in other kinds of Yüan rocks  (such as those of the Kuo Hsi tradition) to treat them with very sudden, dramatic contrasts of light and dark so that the rock becomes more I a light form superimposed on a dark form, with less of real body; no longer a mass defined by intersecting planes or faces.  At the same time, they still have something ' of real bulk and body.  Other things that happen in this tradition I don't have time to talk much about;  you can for instance trace changes in the tree types, the pines; in the angularity and rigidity of the composition; in the gradual growth in importance of the background mountains, such as this up here  (pointing), secondary areas of interest--a loss in focus; and a vertical piling of the landscape forms up one side, which becomes typical of this school in the Ming Dynasty, with, less real separation in depth of the planes.  We don't find the principal elements of the composition piled up vertically this way, I don't think, in Sung examples.

 

(slide:  Tai Chin, one of a pair of landscapes, Min Shin no Kaiga 2) Whereas if we go on into the Ming Dynasty, we find exactly those features carried to their logical conclusion,  to a point beyond which lay only the ultimate dissolution of the style. Rocks which don't have much sense of real bulk at all, but which are made up in fact of a light form superimposed on a darker one.  Just this kind of extreme verticality, ; piling masses upward, and countering this vertical with typically Che School horizontal elements at the other side--bridges, middle ground areas, distant mountains.   This is all but ubiquitous in Che School composition, along with these jutting diagonals in trees, rocks, etc.  These are features which can be followed, point by point, from Sung down into Ming, with everything evolving with considerable uniformity as you go on.

 

(slide)--Moving into the last of these conservative schools, this is a pair of pictures very useful in contrasting Sung and Yuan:  the great Kuo Hsi 1072 "Early Spring" (Chinese Art Treasures 20) and a picture by T'ang Ti in the Palace Museum (YV 41). There are many ways in which these two could be contrasted, but the compositions are so like, except for 'a reversal with the temple in its valley on one side and the deepest recession on the other, that one suspects that the painter of this, T'ang Ti, must have known either this particular Kuo Hsi picture or something very like it. One could use this pair to make various points; the one I want to make now has to do with light and shadow, and the way that it comes to be a matter of superimposed forms and very sudden dramatic shifts.  You can see this better in details.  In the Kuo Hsi we find some really very subtle shading used to model the rocks--I use details of it in my own article on rocks--it really works, usually,  in terms of light and shade and rotundity.

 

(slide:  detail of upper part of T'ang Ti mountain peak)--Whereas in this stage the artist is much more interested in sudden, schematic shifting from light to dark in the various parts of the picture.  Instead of something which still has, odd as it is, a certain organic plausibility as a geological form, as does the summit of the Kuo Hsi picture, we have something that looks as if a child were squeezing together lumps of clay into a sort of mass made up of many smaller, lumpy masses.  This kind of formation distinguishes a great many Yuan paintings from any Sung painting. Also, the presence of certain crazy, arbitrary forms.    Everybody sees this (pointing) as the head of a dog, eventually, and you can never see it any other way again. Or this, which looks like a human fist.  Odd things.  I don't think that is what the artist intended--I am not suggesting that--but these are unnatural and arbitrary forms of a kind that Sung artists simply would not have used.

 

(slide)--Continuing in this school, we come to such a picture as this Li Shih-hsing "Winter Landscape," which has been published as a Northern Sung painting, although it is a perfectly genuine dated (1326) Yüan picture.  It is in Munich, from the Preetorius Collection (Goepper, Essence, 38).  This is not the ultimate debasement of the Kuo Hsi style, but is another big step toward it.  What happens in so many of these Yüan paintings of this school is that we lose all subtle shadings, and it is simply a matter of very harsh dark and light pattern.    The forms become more and more unnatural and odd in shape.  Beside it, in the other slide, is the Yao Yen-ch'ing painting in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, in the exhibition (cat. no. 214), a busy sort of composition made up of sma11 forms but packed to the top, as both these are, filled with a winding movement up the center in both cases.  There are other distinctive features, but this kind of lumpiness agrees with the T'ang Ti. This way of constructing the landscape forms is found regularly within certain very minor Yüan works of the Kuo Hsi school.  They make up a fairly consistent group, along with the paintings by T'ang Ti and others,  . . .

 

(slide)  .  .  . without being, on the whole, really very good paintings.  Beyond these, of course, in the Ming Dynasty lies a reduction of the same thing to pure calligraphy as for instance in the works of Chu Tuan.  If you were to stand in front of this very fine T'ang Ti in the exhibition (cat. no. 220) and then look at the picture that is hanging to the left of it, a picture from the Nelson Gallery (cat. no. 221) which is supposed to be also a Yüan work in the T'ang Ti style, which I believe is a Ming painting that really shouldn't be in the exhibition, you can see the exact equivalent, for the Kuo Hsi style, of what I spoke of in connection with the Ma Yüan tradition, this manner of doing a rock as a light shape superimposed against a dark shape, both absolutely flat in the Ming picture; whereas these still have much more of roundness, substance.  It is another typical example of Yüan vs. Ming as clear-cut and obvious as can be.  The other painting now on the screen is a T'ang Ti in the Palace Museum (YV 220), one of the paintings consigned to the chien-mu section and therefore all but inaccessible.  The one in the exhibition, in the Brooklyn Museum, was completely new to me until yesterday. I think it's a fine T'ang Ti. The two differ in some ways:  this (Brooklyn picture) is much more a "portrait" of trees with a landscape stretching behind, whereas the Palace Museum one is basically the same compositional plan as the better known Chu Te-jun picture that was in the Chinese Art Treasures exhibition (no. 82).  These rocks  (pointing) represent what I was speaking of, very schematic in their dark-light contrast but at the same time having still some real bulk.  This kind of continuous recession, going back along a river plain, moving successively from one to another of these spaced horizontal elements to a fairly high horizon, certainly agrees with the idea that the Yüan painters achieved for the first time a really systematic and unbroken progression into depth.  But I wonder at the same time whether this might not be .  . .

(slide)  .  .  .  in part at least a matter of school more than period.  I throw this suggestion out very tentatively.  One finds it done best or most clearly, to be sure, in some of these Kuo Hsi school works of Yuan date, but also in paintings that I would take to be Sung works in the Kuo Hsi style.  One finds at least anticipations of it, for instance, in this picture in the Yurinkan (Siren 111/159) attributed to Hsu Tao-ning.  In other words, we have to be very careful about mixing features peculiar to a tradition or a style with period features.

 

(slide)--And, in fact, we can also find, in what otherwise seem to be pretty good Yüan paintings, compositions in which we seem to jump quite suddenly into the distance, without the intervening steps that carry you back from foreground to background.  Or look at this remarkable picture by Wang Yüan (YV 38), I think a reliable work by him.  It was discovered in the photographing of the Palace Museum paintings and is unpublished, unless it has been published since then.  Here, the picture is almost entirely foreground, and if we are to progress into depth, we do so by almost a parody of the "continuous recession," because you have to jump back and forth across the picture, from boat here to boat there to something up here at the very top.  It's pretty hard to see it as the work of an artist really interested in establishing a smooth progression into distance.  At the same time it's a fine Yüan painting, as everybody who saw it then seemed to agree.  One interesting feature of some Yan paintings, by the way, which we see here, an exaggeration of something that you can find precedents for in Sung, is a way of pairing the trees like this: both move straight up for a long way, then one angles off to one side in an unnatural manner, and the other to the other side.

 

(slides)--Actually, if you are going to speak of naturalism in Li Ch'eng-Kuo Hsi works, I think it goes the other way; the early works have much more of real feeling for nature in its natural, unkempt state than anything we can find in Li-Kuo school works of the Yüan Dynasty.  This is a picture that Dr. Sherman Lee reproduces in his catalogue discussion of Yüan painting (Fig. 5), as a Northern Sung work, the Hsiao Han-1in t'u, a fine early work attributed to Li Ch'eng.  I'm not sure of the real date, but take it, as he does, for a Sung work.  The other is the Lo Chih-ch'uan fan painting in the exhibition (cat. no. 215) with something similar to the strange pairing of trees we saw a moment ago, going in different directions according to a preset pattern.  That is more typically Yüan.  You wouldn't expect to find anything so mannered and "posturing" in Sung.  It is a good picture, I don't mean to run it down, but it is Yüan in that sense.

 

(slides:  details of the same two paintings)--When we get into details, we find much more of a natural sense of growth, a natural tangle, an absence of artifice, in a passage such as this from the earlier picture.  There is, by the way, no such systematic use of ink gradations as I was speaking of at the beginning, as a late Sung development.  Whereas in this (detail of Lo Chih-ch'uan) we have all kinds of artifice--the "crab claw" strokes done for an expressive purpose, the vines done in a scribbly way, and so on.  It is essentially different.  You will find this kind of calligraphic, almost playful treatment of the old tree motif in just about every one of the Kuo Hsi school paintings in the exhibition, if you look at them closely.

(slide) --Even if we get into the best Yüan paintings of this kind, if we rise to another level altogether, such as these two very fine works in the Palace Museum by Ts'ao Chih-po, we can still, I think, find features that would distinguish them very clearly from anything in Sung. Of course, no one would argue against that. But the distinguishing features are not ones that lead us into naturalism, but in some ways away from it.  I'm not saying or implying that the very perceptive and beautiful way that Dr. Li wrote about this painting ("Old Trees") is in any sense wrong, because there is a real sense of growth and depth and all the rest of it here; he is perfectly right. At the same time, we can see other things; the use of ink tone, which ties the picture in rather nicely with what I was talking about before, the major elements dark and centrally located, going back to something a bit lighter, and so on.  In the treetops, just that kind of mannered, angular bending in opposed directions.  Or in this fine "Winter Landscape" by the same artist, an insistent repetition of a certain shape in the hills, which plays through the whole picture and makes up its formal theme, for me at least, and sets it clearly apart from the works of Sung artists, who were not so ready to remold nature for their expressive ends.  And again, more sudden shifts from light to dark than you would expect to find in an earlier picture. These are not elements of style that lead in the direction of naturalism at all.

 

What, then, do we have when we put all these observations together, for these conservative schools?  Where does it leave us?  We find that the common tendency in these schools and types of painting, in relation to Sung, is more toward a loss of naturalism than a gain.  This move away from naturalism can take either a positive form, as in these works of Ts'ao Chih'po, a positive fascination with pattern, with the decorative use of silhouette, with linear repetitions, with decorative colors, with decorative use of ink values in the works of the good painters; or, negatively, can be a matter of degeneration into routine,  schematized renderings of all motifs or elements of style, as is generally the case with the minor painters, a matter of flattening or the prevalence of calligraphic mannerism, obtrusive habits of the brush. The positive and negative are not always easily distinguished; one may at first find unpleasant or annoying something he later comes to admire, or vice versa.  In any case, it will be possible, I think, eventually to characterize collectively all the developments I have been talking about in some such terms, because they are aspects of a single pervasive stylistic shift, they go together.  I don't mean myself to try to apply one word to them, such as "decorative" or anything like that, but I think it will be possible to generalize about them in a way that will make sense of this great segment of Yüan painting.  For a great deal of this kind of painting (and I don't mean such pictures as these by Ts'ao Chih'po), one has to make, in the end, I think, negative aesthetic judgments with relation to Sung.  They can be fine, interesting paintings in themselves, but when put beside the Sung things they derive from, they must represent and can only be seen as a debasement of styles that had their real strength much earlier.  I suggested at the beginning that generally in Chinese painting we move from the works of the great masters through those of the followers by moving from a relative naturalism into a more conventionalized, schematized, artificial kind of painting.  It is obvious, then, that requiring a greater degree of naturalism or realism of the Yüan stages of these traditions of painting is missing the point, going exactly against what I think really happened, as is abundantly clear from all the evidence we have.   And it is very clear also from the exhibition and from surviving Yuan painting more generally that these traditions--along with others I haven't treated, such as horse and other anima painting, Buddhist painting, portraits, etc,--make up the greater bulk, in sheer quantity, of painting of this period.  The Four Great Masters, etc., are really in the minority.

Now, very briefly, on the progressive side, which is generally to say the better side, of Yüan painting, I will show only a few slides to suggest a few points.

(slide)--I put them here at the very end only to suggest the ways in which they could be seen against a background of the kinds of painting we have been looking at earlier. That is, it's a mistake to see the great masters working as if on some great empty plain out of which arise "monuments" at twenty-year intervals or something.  They are working in a context of their own time, surrounded by other painters who are not producing monuments but paintings, good and bad.  They be1ong in a particular setting.  This picture of course, is the painting ascribed to Ch'ien Hsüan, famous and highly regarded by the Chinese, the Fou-yü shan-chü (Dwelling in the Fou-yü Mountains) hand-scroll  this is half of it.  It is supposed to be, the Chinese say, derived from Tung Yüan, and you can see what they mean when you put it beside, for instance, the Kurokawa picture ascribed to that artist. It agrees in the strange shapes and forms rising from a flat surface, the marshy terrain, the reeds, and these quite tangled and unbeautiful masses of trees.  Ch'ien Hsüan (if it is indeed he) does seem to be performing in what was for him the Tung Yuan style.  It is a kind of painting that is unbeautiful, with dull, marshy land and nothing very attractive or spectacular. What then is good about it?  Exactly that.  That is to say, what could be negative values are turned around and become for the Chinese in this period, I think, positive ones. Just this kind of disorder, tangle, was somehow desirable in the context of, as a break away from, what was going wrong in other types of painting we have been looking at , overly neat, repetitious patterns.  Tung Yüan represented something that was desirable, a way out of the low state that other traditions had fallen into.  He also represented an alternative to the Southern Sung academy styles which they found sweet, meretricious, again as the literature will testify.

 

(slide:  second half of Ch'ien Hsüan)--It is a very hard painting to understand, but we can only understand it as a rather experimental, and to some extent abortively experimental, work.  I don't think it's totally successful by any means, but it's important, as an early essay in this curious blend of archaism and innovation that sets the new direction in early Yüan painting.  This kind of flat pattern and schematic dark and light is not difficult to accept if you accept, for instance, the awful "Fan K'uan" in the Freer.   We can imagine Ch'ien Hsüan deriving something that was right for him, useful to him, out of a debased tradition of painting,  in which the forms were in fact flattened out, and in which natural images were in fact reduced to simple, unnatural geometric shapes, and so on.

 

(slide)--Chao Meng-fu, of course, raises this to a much higher artistic level, producing a painting, the "Autumn Colors" scroll (Chinese Art Treasures 69) which is by any criterion one of the great monuments, but one in which again I would find different qualities than others have.  Or perhaps additional qualities; I don' t mean to argue with, for instance, what Dr. Li Chu-tsing wrote about it in his book, very perceptively, I simply wanted to suggest other ways of looking at it.   It is a painting similar in basic aim to Ch'ien Hsüan's, but with much more of positive values. Chao Meng-fu prides himself, as we know, on his dependence on "the ancients" and his contempt for "modern painting."  In order to know what he means, we have to understand what modern painting was for him.  This is where all our little masters come in. In a deep sense, the approach to this picture which sees it as in a way realistic is right.  If I were to speak of it as realistic, however, I would mean it in just the sense I was speaking of just now, a kind of free, natural-looking effect of disorder and tangle, as a break away from the simple, schematic rendering of trees or anything else.  There are, of course, some schematized elements in the picture, the reeds, for instance; and yet a certain spontaneity, naturalness, unplanned, unartificial look was a large part of the value of the painting, unquestionably I think, for the Chinese, along with other values.  I do not here go into the matter of the brushwork and this new "tactile" use of brush line.

 

(slides) --Chao Meng-fu' s new rendering of the Tung Yüan manner became the basis of a whole new style.  We see it done in a fairly derivative way by Chao's son Chao Yung in Mrs. Perry's picture (cat. no. 229) , with this kind of tangled tree becoming fairly conventionalized already, and this kind of dull , unexciting treatment of simple, rounded hills.  Or it can in the hands of a greater artist become the basis of a new, original style, as in the "Fisherman" (Chinese Art Treasures 76) by Wu Chen who takes the same materials and makes them into something very much his own, new forms from old.

 

(slide:  Huang Kung-wang Fu-ch'un scroll, Chinese Art Treasures 74)--Huang Kung-wang obviously is the great innovator of the whole group.  It is he who comes up with a style that is forever after, for other literati painters, so right that they all immediately are affected by it. It would take much too long to go into what I think are the real innovations and achievements of Huang Kung-wang, but an important part of it is a whole new way of building forms. If you think back to Hsia Kuei and others of the older tradition, you realize that in their paintings, it is as if you had a solid form or mass in mind, and then you depict that mass in terms of light and shade and intersecting planes and so on. You built it in that way.  In Huang Kung-wang it is rather a matter of the brushwork itself implying or having substance, implying mass, implying texture; and then out of this, out of brush strokes, you build additively a sort of fabric or structure of a basically different kind. If you tried to translate it into out lines and washes, you would find it to be impossible.  It is not so much a way of depicting or delineating a pre-existent solid form, which is sort of all there and defined by the artist.  It is an accumulation, an interweaving, of rough, "tactile" strokes which gives us a sense of substance, but which also has a certain transparence.  This is very important, because it allows the artist to avoid the ponderous, heavily rounded, shaded forms which they, at least, evidently felt should be avoided, found objectionable,  I think, in much Sung painting.  They produce, then, something which is substantial in the sense that I am speaking of, and at the same time rather weightless.  This transparence of fabric is an essential feature of the style.

 

(slide:    "Bamboo, Old Tree and Rock," by Ni Tsan and others, YV 172)--In bamboo and rock pictures, of course, we have also just this kind of informality, an a 11empt to get away from the schematized, simple patterns, the decorative styles that characterized the kinds of works we were looking at before.  It was these that the more progressive artists castigated in "modern painting," the painting of their own time.  When Huang Kung-wang says that the worst things in painting, the qualities to avoid, are "arbitrariness, sweetness, vulgarity, derivitiveness," these are exactly the qualities that he would have found in the paintings we were looking at earlier. When he says this, in order to know what he is talking about, and what Huang Kung-wang provides a way out of, or escape from, we have to understand the context in which he worked.  What he does, seen within this context, is no less innovation, but it is more intelligible innovation.

 

(slide:  Ni Tsan "Jung-hsi Studio," 300 Masterpieces. 186)--I use this as perhaps the least controversial Ni Tsan picture, one that everybody will agree upon, so as not to confuse the matter by getting into matters of authenticity.  Ni Tsan takes up and carries further this whole manner of building forms out of brushwork which is in itself tactile, with a sense of substance, forms that have the quality of transparence. This is for many Yuan artists the very thing I think that they found admirable in his style.  There are also features of his composition, true enough, which they emulated, and also this informality, absence of simple pattern, in the trees.  If I speak, then, of naturalism or realism, it is in large degree in this sense.  And again, Professor Wen Fong is perfectly right in saying as he does that these trees have a real sense of natural growth, and that in the imitations they ordinarily do not.  We might disagree on some particular imitation, but he is essentially right.  I don't mean to argue against that at all.

 

(slide)--If we look back at something of Sung Dynasty literati painting to see if it did not in fact have the same use of dry brush work, we see that it is not the same at all.  It was still, as in this passage from Mr. John Crawford's Ch'iao Chung-ch'ang "Red Cliff" (Crawford cat. no. 14, pi. 15-16), a matter of using it as outline. You outline the forms with dry brush line, which gives them a little more roughness, to be sure, but it is not the same as building them up, as Ni Tsan does.  It is still essentially an outline method, but with dry brush, or rather broken brush, outline.  They were moving toward, but did not yet arrive at, what Huang Kung-wang and Ni Tsan bring finally to culmination.

 

(slides)--In the case of Wang Meng, we may have some works which keep this kind of transparence.  This on the left, the short handscroll in Indianapolis (cat. no. 256) is a picture which I feel sometimes uneasy about but like very much.  If you see it as a kind of casual sketch which he did for a friend, perhaps it is going to be acceptable; I would like to believe in it anyway.  This does have the quality of transparence, with an interwoven fabric of strokes.  In the other one, Mrs. Perry's recent acquisition (cat. no. 257) he uses many more of the tien or dots to produce a kind of furry texture.  But it is not the Sung kind, defining surface in terms of texture plus a relatively convincing light and shade.    We still have stark, sudden dark-light transitions, as in others of the time, this kind of dark-light patterning, and what is really an unnatural texture, used for formal and expressive ends.

(slide)--Where do these features come from?  I want to suggest where, using as an example the great Wang Meng "Ch'ing-pien Mountains" picture in Shanghai.  Among the really brilliant innovations of Wang Meng as seen in this picture are the very crowded composition with a winding upward movement; this use of extreme light-dark contrast, which gives a dramatic play of light and shadow over the whole picture; this overly consistent, in a way, treatment of surface, with all these little curling strokes; the presence of marked spatial ambiguities, and various other things.  If we try to say where these come from, what monument can we find that will account for them in earlier painting?  The answer might very well be, no monument.    It might very well be, and I mean to throw this out as a suggestion only, that the background of these elements of style is in fact to be found in much lesser paintings, not monuments at all, but just Yüan paintings, of the kind I was showing earlier, certain debased works of the Northern Sung tradition, particularly the Kuo Hsi school, where we do find such very crowded compositions; where we do have a more uniform or overly consistent treatment of the surfaces, as in that dreadful "Fan K'uan," to take an extreme case; where we do have sudden representationally valueless dark-light shifts and spatial ambiguities which may not have been intentional at all in these other paintings. Then along comes the great artist and sees the expressive potential of these and uses them for valid,  forward-looking artistic ends, creating a new, viable style out of very unpromising materials.  Part of his originality is in combining elements of different landscape schools, especially the Tung-Chu and Li-Kuo (which Huang Kung-wang specifically warned should not be mixed)  into an essentially new style.  In doing this, he is no less an innovator than if he had made them up out of thin air (as in fact no artist ever does).  To a degree, the great, creative master does stand outside history, or rather determines or deflects the course of style-history more than he conforms to it. It is the achievements of such masters that must ultimately be our main concern in the painting of the Yüan or any other period.    And yet, I think one can understand those achievements better in the terms I suggest, and in the proper context, than one can by seeing the development of painting, as I think we sometimes come perilously close to doing, as if the painters were working in some kind of abstract realm inhabited only by other great artists, occupied only by great monuments.  I think we sometimes slip into this kind of thinking, without entirely realizing it.

 

Seen this way, the Yüan has a kind of coherence and unity; we have not moved altogether "away from a definition of Yüan painting."  But the unity does not depend on the belief that anything we say that is significant about Yüan style has to fit everything done in the Yüan period.   On the contrary, when we do come to the point where we can characterize Yüan style and make sense of it, see it whole, achieve a new "image" that will do until still another supplants it, it must be in full recognition of all the significant elements that make it up, so many of which are represented in this excellent exhibition.

 

 

PAINTING DISCUSSION

C. T. Lee:  First I want to say that I feel like a candidate, one that asks for equal time in defense of my publications for having my work mentioned so much in the conference.    I am also somewhat disappointed that some of the points that I made in my publications are not all well understood.  I feel that one of the basic criticisms of my work is perhaps one of the many categories that I use to define Yüan painting has been taken out more or less as the single major characteristic of Yüan painting, and I think Mr. Cahill's whole presentation is directed against this point.  But I feel that between us there is a great deal of common ground which I think should be understood.  We all recognize that Yüan paintings are very complex and ought to be understood in a couple of perspectives.  And both of us, I think, agree that between Sung and Yüan, and of course later periods, Yuan stands alone by itself as a very important step, not as the watering down of Sung but as a kind of new type in this development.  It is a very important turning point in the development of Chinese painting.  And there are characteristics which I mentioned in my works which have been also mentioned by Mr. Cahill in his work; that there are influences actually in the development further away from realism going toward some kind of interest in patterns and so on, and in some other aspects which I think are part of common ground.  I think that those of you who have read my publications would actually call my description of the "Autumn Colors" in terms of symphony in terms of quite a number of many things. Actually in my latest publication that is coming out I also run the risk of using the term "poetic realism" as one category in dealing with some paintings. Now, all this I think is a matter of emphasis.  I would like, of course, to have a set of slides, but time does not permit that.  What I feel is that there is a major difference between my presentations and Mr. Cahill's in a sense that in his presentation he is looking back toward the Sung and using Yüan actually as a somewhat subverted development away from realism whereas in my discussions of the Yuan paintings I see much more in terms of the conflict in quite a number of works which I considered as basic Yüan and a number of other works which I considered having been wrongly attributed to Yüan or works which might not bear Yüan signatures.  There are certain points I think in the paper with which I can agree.  We don't have time to go into details.  I think if you think of Yüan in terms of Ming and Ch’ing I think you would find that no sort of aspect of the Sung realism still persists while I think the Chinese use T'ang figure paintings as a period of realistic figure paintings  (and Sung certainly is a period of realism) and I feel that a kind of realism is one of the major characteristics of Yüan plus many other things which I think Mr. Cahill has pointed out as part of the development, some of them I accept as part of the Yüan characteristics. The diversity of Yüan in many of the paintings in this exhibition I think is quite well evident, but I feel that in many of our discussions we have to take into account many other factors, not simply just in terms of presentation of a whole series of stylistic comparisons.  I think that one of the points that we have to take into consideration very much in relation to Renaissance paintings as a whole, is the fact that the rediscovery of the paintings of Sung and the T'ang periods were tied to and have a great deal to do with certain new developments.  It is the more creative artists in the Yüan period who saw the possibilities and potentials but who were not slavish in their imitation of the early' works which make it possible for them to carry on further, and I know two publications are coming out soon, including one of mine, which will illustrate much more this point in a sense that many of the developments of the Yüan were to be sort of rediscoveries of the past--just like a new classical statue rediscovered in the Renaissance times stimulated a great deal of interest in that period, as an expression of the kind of new understanding of the past but again moving into a kind of new height in its artistic development.  I think many other characteristics we can use as a point of reference.    I think what Mr. Cahill indicated in many of the points, slide comparisons, and so on, was the difference perhaps between the Sung and the Yüan paintings, and I feel that if you compare the paintings between Yuan and the Ming you would find I think that the idea of realism would be applicable even in some of the most free and stylistically sketchy problems.  This is one point of the presentation in a sense that nowadays I think people approach Yüan painting in terms of a large group of paintings, many of which I feel are not totally acceptable, and I would consider these as a kind of problem by which certain aspects of realism would be a basic solution in this connection and I think by using the term "poetic realism" there is a great deal here in Yüan which we can submit as part of this whole new definition.  Actually I think in this conference we still have not come up with too many new categories of defining the Yüan period, especially in the paintings, regarded by me--by many people--as the most advanced expression of Yüan intellectual and artistic life, and I feel that in our discussion here we can see degrees of comparison and in terms of our own analysis I think the term "realism" has been singled out from all the major characteristics that I find in the Yüan as the category to be criticized.  But I think as I pointed out, with this point of view if you compare Sung with Yuan of course you could say that Sung is more realistic.  These definitely are the paragons of realism in China which, of course, in the case of Yuan is not exactly the same thing, but I think the spirit of realism is still very strong in the Yuan because they were mostly artists who were still in that kind of atmosphere whereas they were developing into some new directions which I think have also been defined in my publications.

James Cahill:  I certainly meant to emphasize the points on which I think there is no real disagreement.  I was speaking in absolute sincerity in saying that I think, for instance, that the methods Prof. Li used to distinguish good from bad in the case of P'u-ming are absolutely right, his results were sound.  In dealing with Ts'ao Chih-po he likewise comes to thoroughly convincing conclusions and by essentially right methods.  We differ in our assessments of other kinds of paintings, and in our view of Yüan here generally.  If I have misunderstood his writings, as Chu-tsing has suggested, then perhaps others have too.  My misunderstanding, then, and perhaps the misunderstanding that others may have also, judging from conversations I have had with them, is that this whole matter of realism becomes a necessary quality in Yüan paintings and a means by which we can disqualify certain candidates.  And insofar as that is true, when "realism" becomes an exclusive criterion used to exclude that part of Yüan painting which seems to be going in quite a different direction, then we would disagree. Insofar as Dr. Li meant to use realism and all the rest of it so as to rule out the possibility of the Yüan variety of blue-and-green landscape, or flat "shadow" bamboo, or all the other odd--to me--unrealistic things that I brought in, there is no disagreement at all.

Max Loehr:  I should like to compliment the lecturer first and then ask what the title and the way he changed it or chose it actually means.  I get the impression that the lecture was something that might be entitled "Toward the Definition of Yüan Painting" because the whole of Yan paintings came up with a concise statement of the current of Yüan characteristics so that the impression holds that a definition is quite possible after all.

 

James Cahill:  I am very pleased that you think so.  I was somewhat facetious, of

course.  I guess I meant to suggest we should get away from a too tight, exclusive, overly neat definition, trying to go back to accepting a great many more things and then seeing what could be made from them. We would end up with a definition that is necessarily going to be more complex.  I suppose that is what I meant and perhaps it was an overly facetious approach.  I hope that one can arrive at a satisfactory and true-to-the-material definition of Yüan painting through some such means.  I don't suggest that I have done that yet.

Max Loehr:  One other point.   In this sense do you not in the end think that you have to select certain works as monuments, that theoretically you are forced to fall back to certain monuments which you would accept as most characteristic, the deepest realization of the potentialities of what was going on at the time.

James Cahill:   But when you speak of a monument you mean ordinarily something which

sets a new direction or which breaks a new ground or which you can use to understand what happens in Yüan paintings.  But in dealing with the monument, I would also see it against the sort of background I was suggesting.  For instance, Ch'ien Hsüan against rather low level or decorative or provincial flower painting. This does not mean that you put the provincial flower painting on the same level with Ch'ien Hsüan's when you speak of the real achievements of Yüan.  I only mean that Ch'ien Hsüan's picture makes better sense and can be more properly understood against a background that includes these other things than if you simply deal with an art history made up of monuments and tried to relate the Ch'ien Hsüan directly to Li Ti and Southern Sung with nothing in between.  That is what I would be against, in other words.  Although in a way we are unable to avoid that when we are forced to present art history in a concise and short form.

Wen Fong:    I was going to ask exactly the same question.  Shouldn't you start out with the objects?  It seems to me the real problem is that when you try to describe objects; we are basically trying to see some kind of intelligible relationship between the objects.  Then we get stuck with these few very unfortunate and simplistic concepts.  Now this is a part of our professional hazards--that we use words to describe objects.  I think, frankly, what you have done was to show brilliantly the limitations and the poverty of our critical concepts and terminology, but in doing so I also felt that you used the word "facetious," implying a parody of what ought to be done.  Basically you were using, as far as I could make out, two concepts; one is the concept of realism and one is the concept of stylization, and used these two simple concepts to test out a series of really rather unrelated objects either in quality or in what I would like to term as visual structure.  Of course, the idea a1one, when you say realism, I think it is an unfortunate term to begin with because we are very much conditioned by at least a modern--at least post-19th century idea of scientific realism--as if nature could be imitated in art.  I think we are a long way from that.  This was a very particular phase in western art history.  Art is always based on convention. It is never based on natural sciences and conventional signs, and when this is recognized by . . .  trying to line up a sequence of words:  which is more naturalistic, which is less naturalistic, in a photographic or in a scientific sense, in a naturalistic sense.  And similarly the idea of stylization, I don't think, in defense of Prof. Li here, that we can carry out these studies, if I have heard correctly, that he would even suggest that there is really a simple, sequential development, a simple  cycle as it were, and incidentally, I think this was also one thing that came out in our conference.  But this is not any kind of statement; it is just my reaction to this very idea of what we are talking about — later Chinese art as degeneration, a variation on a theme. Maybe it is a personal preference, but it seems to me the most important thing here is beginning with objects, to try to conceptualize and in conceptualizing to define what are the really artistic, and both stylistic as well as aesthetic, problems involved.  We cannot raise these questions, any question of priority.   There can be no indication of reference in time, unless we can define these problems first. Following this particular way of thinking, styles do not just peter out, as if it is a steady decline from the height of Northern Sung.  Rather, there are various idoms, alternatives, and there is a real, active competition in these alternative choices.   The fact that Li Ch'eng-Kuo Hsi was a less viable choice than Tung Yüan-Chü-jan, which finally succeeded in breaking in on these later styles of the fourteenth century.  In this respect, I would think tradition is not a static thing at all, but that it changes all the time.  When we talk about tradition there is no such thing as Kuo Hsi as a flat object, something always static; it is always a transmitted and transformed image of something and what you make out of it.

 

Sherman Lee:  I have a terrible feeling of dejavu—you remember the conference at the time of the Chinese painting exhibition in New York.  I think that, all apologies to Prof. Fong, we cannot think about these big terms of the concept of the period or concept of a structure within a period quite yet.  I would like to say something specifically methodological about realism, a term which has been bandied about here a great deal.   And we don't have to get into a philosophical discussion as to what realism is, that there really is not any question of speaking of a tree that seems to be set in the ground so we can see it, just as one can see a branch that is growing—seems to be structurally sounder, more living, than that in the picture next to it.  We can see it.  Realism is only important in consideration of certain kinds of Yüan painting.  If indeed realism was something that they were thinking about at all; and we know from the contemporary inscriptions, which are translated for me so nicely by all you Sinologists, that many of the Yüan masters did not care about realism.  They were specifically uninterested in it.  They were specifically not only uninterested in it, they were specifically trying to undo it.  And so I think we are on very dangerous ground methodologically if we apply this kind of criterion for, let's say, a chronological series of stages saying that this is one century or two centuries further on because it is somewhat less realistic.  It may be something that is absolutely contemporary with a very realistic thing but which is deliberately unrealistic.  Simply as a methodological thing, I think we have got to be—and I have come almost full swing ;around to a semi-Chinese point of view-very careful about using western concepts, and western methods of argument in these contexts, and especially so in the fourteenth century when without question something very important and very different did happen.

James Cahill:  I would answer this very briefly. In so far as I made use of the term realism without trying to define what I was talking about in the specific Yüan dynasty context,  I agree with the criticism.  I should have said this painting can be called in a sense realistic, and gone on to define the sense.  And if I used it more loosely than that,  I am open to criticism in the same way that I would criticize what 1 thought to be a loose generalization of that kind in the writings of others.  As for this matter of seeing a certain tradition or school style as slipping by visible stages into schematization or stylization, from the original impulse--the creative master—through a succession of followers, this is something which, first of all, I would certainly not apply to any situation in which another really creative artist comes into the series, because that upsets it all.  You can't speak of the deterioration or debasement of the Sung style in his work, because his original contribution to the tradition deflects it from its otherwise downward course.  You can, on the other hand, I think--I have done this kind of thing and it's fairly pragmatic in a way--I find it works for certain materials in a certain kind of tradition in which the style stultifies, such as the tradition of Li T'ang.  But after a time it again, I think, produces really good artists such as Ma Yuan and Hsia Kuei, who bring something new to it. I certainly would not argue for the uniform decline of painting after Sung. I don't mean to oversimplify.  But in these little people, the person who is doing the "Ran K'uan" landscape in 1340 or somebody else doing it in what I consider to be a Ming painting, successive degrees of conventionalization and schematization are clearly visible.  When you can find enough datable pieces, you can line them up in a way that seems to form a discernible pattern.  I have found in enough cases that this is a consistent kind of direction in which, element by element, you can see such a process taking place, to find this a useful tool, as a sort of hypothesis which then doesn't prove anything, perhaps, but can indicate the direction that a school of painting is taking and can also indicate, I think, the stage within that development that a particular painting occupies.  For instance, there is a handscroll painting in the Chicago Art Institute called Anonymous Sung, "Wang-ch'uan Villa," which, seen in the kind of context I was speaking about, comes through as a Fan K'uan School work, with the sort of debased treatment of rocks with "raindrop ts'un" and the mannered, jagged contours of trees, of every last element.  The only way we are ever going to be able to date this picture effectively, I think, might very well be to define it within some such series or some such context as that.  Then you can understand what the picture is.  A very minor artist-- don't mean to date it absolutely, it might be Yüan, I don't think much later—working and doing his thing a little more interestingly than the man who did the Freer "Fan K'uan" picture.  But this will bring you to an understanding of the picture that I don't think you can reach without determining not only the tradition he belongs to but where he belongs in it.  The whole thing is ruled out as Sung just by its position in this particular development.  It is ruled out as a Wang Wei style picture by the fact that all the elements in it are, in fact, Fan K'uan School elements and so on.  For that kind of problem I find it useful. I can say no more than that.

 

Michael Sullivan:    I would like to make just a couple of small comments, one of them arising out of Jim's brilliant exposition of this whole picture, and this is on his question of realism. I want to say a word before we drop it. I do rather take issue with Wen on the fact that there was no such thing in the Chinese tradition.  I think Kuo Chung-shu and . . . made it quite obvious that there was, and that there was an intent in that direction at the end of Northern Sung.  We read of Li Ch'eng being castigated by Hsiao Chao for his excessive realism. But with the crisis in Sung there's a great failure of nerve; there it stopped rather abruptly perhaps, and continues in Hsiao Chao for a short time in Southern Sung, but then it does gradually disappear.  And by the time you get to the Yüan I feel it is no longer relevant at all because a curtain now hangs between the painter and the past, and on this curtain is written the whole tradition. They've lost their innocence.  They can't paint without being aware of this whole body of tradition behind them. I think this is perhaps the first time in Chinese history that this is so, and painting could never be the same again after that.  And this seemed to me to underlie almost everything you can say about the fourteenth century when all this incredible range of materials, about the pictorial ideas and traditions on which the painter had to build that he was conscious that he was drawing out some of art in a way that had never been before.

 

James Cahill:    This whole element--consciousness--by the way, is exactly the distinction between somebody like this minor Fan K'uan School practitioner who produces a perfectly dreadful picture, and somebody who can make creative use of the same elements but who isn't just doing something he learned but consciously realizing what he is doing with the past and what he is doing that is new. Consciousness is very important.

 

Wen Fong:    May I please make a small clarification about something both Dr. Lee and Dr.  Sullivan said, in fact, I think, in agreement and approval.  When you talk about realism, the very word "ism" implies intention and what you call conscious control. . . .  Now, this really was not anything I had in mind when I wanted to describe Yuan style at all.  In fact, the only thing that, for lack of a better word, I was thinking really in terms of the development of structure.  This is a much too complex problem to discuss here.  I think Prof. Loehr has an article which in a slightly different way deals with the same problem.  What he talks about is the conquest of illusion and this is, I think, basically, although intellectually speaking, a western approach.  Still, he raises one very pertinent question here that has never been raised by Chinese critics.  I don't think it is a very German or western way of thinking or an eastern way of thinking; I think what concerns us here is what problems we are posing.  We are essentially posing now some problems that the Chinese were never interested in.  We are talking about the question of dating and the question of authenticity which has to do with a reference point in time, and it is just one of the art historical devices that we are using since the beginning of the century in the concept of morphology when we assume that style always changes, and not only style changes, but also, to put it very simply, art has its own history, it is not history, and in the formal relationship of compositional elements  . . .

 

Sherman Lee:    But Wen, we know all of that!

 

Wen Fong:    But this talking about the Yüan period . . .

 

Sherman Lee:    What we are talking about is the application of stylistic criteria, I am not saying that we should not apply western methods.  I think we should, but I don't think we should apply necessarily western stylistic concepts.  We have got to find out what the Chinese stylistic concept is.

 

Mrs. Ecke:    I just wanted to second the comment . . . (remainder of Mrs. Ecke's comment is not clear on the tape),

 

Father Harry Vanderstappen:    I was just going to raise a question.  You say, for

instance, you produce two paintings on the screen.  You say put this one here and this one is in a Japanese collection.  One is acceptable to you because it does something different.

 

James Cahill: No, they are both acceptable to me.

 

Father Harry: You say of this painting you realize that you are on the point of

having to define your terms because that painting doesn't look like a proper

rendering of a tree.  You are thereby challenged in your terms to describe that

tree. If its artistic form doesn't present a real tree, or it does, and if it
does not—what does it do?  You are not quite clear with yourself--it does something different.  It is, however, acceptable to you.

 

James Cahill:   No, I can say what I think it's doing but that's another thing.

 

Father Vanderstappen:   But don't you have to defend this tree in terms of not just realism?

 

James Cahill:   I was not saying myself that I question this tree in terms of its lack of realism.    I was only trying to say to question this tree in terms of lack of realism would be using, I think, the wrong criterion.

 

Father Vanderstappen:   Now, the next question is this--you bring up the bamboo painting signed Chao Meng-fu.  You criticize it because it doesn't operate.

James Cahill:   Not realism. I would be able to, and I think you could too, make the very clear distinction between what are positive qualities, intentional, well realized, in the Po Tzu-t'ing tree which are not, however, intentions aiming toward realism and what are unrealized intentions. It's clear what he does in the "Chao Meng-fu" rock where it doesn't come off.  We have to make the distinction between a badly realized intention to produce a substantial structural rock and what Chao Meng-fu is doing in a genuine picture by him.  The Po Tzu-t'ing is not an intention at an organically conceived spatially rendered tree that goes wrong. It's not that at all.

Father Vanderstappen:  You apply then, what appear to be your own criterion--I wouldn't call it arbitrarily—but you know, you are trying to save the painting or attack the painting because of certain elements in which there are mixed quality and style.

 

James Cahill:   I would argue for the necessity of doing this, in fact.  I would argue

in theory the necessity of doing that, because the alternative, you see, is to say that the person who did the Po Tzu-t'ing tree had the same intention as somebody else who does a much more--I can't say "realistic," I don't know what--you know what I mean.   And if you say that makes things more complicated, of course it does.  But if you do the alternative and say that if you reject the "Chao Meng-fu" Rock and Bamboo you have to reject also the Po Tzu-t'ing tree.

Father Vanderstappen:   I wouldn't say that.

James Cahill:   Therefore you have to shift somewhat.

Father Vanderstappen:   I agree with you.  I accept what you think.

James Cahill:   You agree in rejecting it?

Father Vanderstappen:   Yes!

James Cahill:   On what grounds would you reject the Chao Meng-fu?

Father Vanderstappen:   That's the question that has to be answered.

James Cahill:   Well, exactly!  I tried to propose my answer, but I would certainly agree that. . .

 

Father Vanderstappen:  It's very strange what happened in Yüan painting.  You have gone so many times over it much better than I can do it, that Yüan goes back to that which we might call the realistic face of Chinese . . ., Chü-jan, Li Ch'eng, etc. No matter who wins, I don't care (the objects win); what you have to deal with is a certain extraction in terms of what the artists know to work with. In other words, a language that I would like to call a grammar, but this is not an abstraction standing there by itself on a screen.  This grammar becomes vital because it's used to present the object and thereby,  of course, the object gains a complete new existence applied to, joined to, the grammar that's being picked up from the realistic kinds of painting.  Therefore what happens is that the object I would find very important in the very later part of the development of thirteenth century painting whether you go to the bird and flower painting or you go to the orchid paintings and the blade of grass.  The single concentration on an object becomes very important; they lift an object out of its surroundings-place it on a scroll and line them up, trees where you have trees, mountains, rocks, and so forth, and apply certain accumulated experience towards a grammar to represent those things.  I think if you go that way (I find myself doing this constantly lately in class), I find that I can then say, for instance, what makes the  ... of number one so strong.  Because if you really examine it, he applied constantly the same kind of lines, very great variety of . . ., all pieces look somewhat similar.  They are not dictated, this application of form is not dictated by what he sees, but by primarily what he knows to apply and it is very beautifully stated.  This goes for trees, for rocks, and also for space.    They all become the same thing and they become very subtle.  The world view is thereby completely revamped; it becomes extremely positive.  There's a great piece of renaissance.

 

Weng Fong:  Would you go so far as saying that the grammar may have its own history?

 

Father Vanderstappen:  Yes, I would.  My hesitancy to introduce this word grammar, is because it is a dull word, but I have no other word. Wen Fong:   How about "structure," "linguistic structure?"

Father Vanderstappen:    Yes ...

 

Wen Fong:    (tape not clear)  . . . depend on intention.  It is true, there are individual geniuses and you were talking of Huang Kung-wang.  It is to use the same language or structure to say something that has never been said before, that's all.  It is through the structure we begin to articulate the formal problems.

Father Vanderstappen: Exactly!

 

Wen Fong:    And it is through the structure that we begin to articulate the formal problems.

 

Cheng Hsi:    May I express my admiration to Prof. Cahill's talk.  May I add one point as a comment, my point is a very bold hypothesis, is not mature, but may I say that the Yüan painting is a kind of painting having a tendency toward one direction, that is, painting is coming closer and closer to individual lyric poetry and calligraphy in the style other than kai-shu script.  My argument is that there was a very important discussion between Chao Meng-fu and Ch'ien Hsüan.  Chao Meng-fu asked "What kind of paintings can be regarded as scholarly?" And Ch'ien Hsüan's answer was very simple.  "That is the Li-shu style." And since then we've found that more and more painters inscribed their characters on the scrolls much more than the Sung painters did.  We remember that on the Wang Wei . . . and some Sung emperors had used the lines of Chinese poems which they asked the professional painters in the academy to paint, to make creative work, not as much as the Yüan painters who really composed individual lyric poems and most of them were perhaps a kind of calligraphy, obviously a type of script, in a sense that Wu Chen was interested in the cursive script and Wang Meng was interested in seal script . . . These are all different from the T'ang k'ai-shu style.  May I state that this is--I'm not very sure--that in a sense that when Chü-jan flourished in the end of the Yüan the Li Ch'eng-Kuo Hsi style more or less declined.   The masters who followed the Yüan Chü-jan school were Huang Kung-wang and . . .  Actually Ni Tsan did copy some Chu-jan works according to the documents.  Could we say that this is something that helped the victory of the script, calligraphy, written scripts, other than k'ai-shu?

 

James Cahill:    The story, by the way, about the conversation between Chao Meng-fu and Ch'ien Hsüan is the late version.  Of course the early version may be apocryphal too.  But the one you quoted is Tung Ch'i-ch'ang's version of the conversation. The original is early Ming; it turns up in the Ko-ku yao-lun.  There, Ch'ien's answer is that "Gentleman's painting" is the painting of the Li-chia (amateurs) as opposed to the Hang-chia (professionals) in Nelson Wu's famous distinction. But then, as rewritten by Tung, it becomes the li script, which is a totally different matter.

 

Sherman Lee:    Wai-kam, would you care to comment on that famous conversation, on the meaning, the actual reference for the characters for what was gentlemen's" painting?

 

Wai-kam Ho:    I think it's a very complicated problem.  The meaning changed and the same term could receive a completely opposite meaning.

James Cahill:    Of course Prof. Cheng’s observation didn't depend on that.  You could just as well have cited Chao Meng-fu saying he does the rocks in the fei-pai brushwork and he does the bamboo in the li manner I mean, there are other evidences even if that one is somewhat controversial, so it doesn't really destroy the point in any way.

 

Cheng Hsi:    I have found an interesting picture in the exhibition that's the Wu Chen scroll "Fisherman."  The strokes of the inscription are very similar to the strokes of the rocks and trees and I think that the style of the poem is lyric. He followed that style, quite a lyrical style in Chinese poetry.  Another thing I like, that once Wang Wei told people that "I would like to adopt the T'ang in taste, Sung in composition, and Yüan in brushwork technique." Why did he mention that Yüan brushwork technique only?  There must be something interesting in that.

 

James Cahill:    That was then certainly the orthodox view of the great contribution of Yüan.

 

Wen Fong:    Just a small question here.  When you talk about blue-green style, I wondered why didn't you use two paintings in the Crawford collection?

James Cahill:    You mean the two little leaves?

 

Wen Fong:    The handscrolls Wang Shen and so-called 5 Dynasties.  This to me would be very good examples of twelfth century influence.

 

James Cahill:    I see what you mean!  Yes, that's a possibility. I wasn't thinking it as clearly as I should have when I said that there were two, only two candidates. I guess there would be other things.  Those were the two that would come to my mind immediately but, right.  It's better probably to use paintings that you know firsthand.  The Wang Shen, yes, it would seem to be a pre-Yuan blue-green picture.

 

(Remainder of discussion between C. T. Li and James Cahill is not clear on the tape.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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