Qin music was predominantly a literati art, created by the same class of people who also created most surviving early Chinese painting and calligraphy (not to mention poetry). An idealized venue for appreciating music and other arts was an "elegant gathering" where like minded people could pursue the "four arts": qin, chess ("go"), books/calligraphy, and painting. Inspired by this, my own art collection focuses on works that could be used in such a context.2 I have put most of these online, adding also other relevant images as well as links to such images that I have found online.3 People who have my CDs and/or listen to my
online recordings can thus try to recapture part of the flavor of such a gathering by looking at a related picture while listening to the music. I have also sometimes projected such images during performances. (A few are mentioned under Qin and Art.)
Here are some examples. Others may be linked only through the respective melodies. In addition, Kuian Qinpu (1660) has illustrations for 13 melodies.
Chu Ci (Songs of the South);
Four illustrated melodies, including Li Sao, Yuan You,
Song Yu Bei Qiu (same theme as Jiu Bian), and Zepan Yin (same theme as Yu Fu).
- Qiu Hong (Wild Geese in Autumn);
The 36 sections of the
Shen Qi Mi Pu melody
Qiu Hong correspond with 36 scenes of an anonymous set of paintings in the Forbidden City.
- Da Hujia (Nomad Reed Pipe, Long Version); also called 18 Songs of a Nomad Flute;
The 18 sections of the
Shen Qi Mi Pu melody
Da Hujia correspond with the 18 scenes of a long scroll originally painted in the Song dynasty.
- Yu Ge (Fisherman's Song);
Another long scroll corresponding to sections of a qin melody.
- Liu Shang (Floating Goblets);
A long scroll from a rubbing depicting an event immortalized by Wang Xizhi
- Dunshi Cao
(Fleeing from Society);
The famous recluse Xu You declines the temptations of power.
- Guangling San (Guangling Melody);
The longest qin melody, often attributed to Xi Kang
- Jiu Kuang
Drinking to avoid worldy corruption.
- Huo Lin
A scene from the life of Confucius.
- Shanzhong Si Youren
(Amidst Mountains Thinking of Old Friends);
Literati officials often spent long periods away from home.
- Qiuyue Zhao Maoting
(Autumn Moon Shining on a Reed Pavilion);
Peaceful countryside scene.
- Guanghan You
(Wandering in a Lunar Palace);
A traditional Chinese view of the moon.
- Guanghan Qiu
(Autumn in a Lunar Palace);
Wu Gang tries to chop down a cassia tree.
- He Ming Jiu Gao (Cranes Cry in the Nine Marshpools);
Dancing in the breeze; calling out to heaven.
- Yi Lan (Flourishing Orchid)
An illustration from the life of Confucius
- Yu Hui Tushan (Emperor Yu's Meeting at Mount Tu)
An old rubbing showing scenes from the life of Emperor Yu
- Zhuang Zhou Meng Die
(Zhuangzi's Butterfly Dream);
The fine line between dream and reality.
- Chu Ge (Song of Chu);
Farewell my Concubine: Xiang Yu parts from Yu Ji after losing to Liu Bang in the battle to overthrow the Qin dynasty.
- Qiu Hong (Wild Autumn Geese);
Geese over the grave of the Emaciated Immortal
- Yangguan Sandie (Thrice Parting for Yangguan);
Includes calligraphy for the Wang Wei lyrics
- Zui Weng Yin (Old Toper's Chant);
Calligraphy for Zui Weng Cao, a poem by Su Dongpo in honor of his friend Ouyang Xiu.
- Xiuxi Yin
(Purification Ceremony Melody);
Many paintings illustrate this famous event at Lanting pavilion
- Xing Tan (Apricot Tree Forum);
The place where Confucius is said to have taught his students.
- Zui Yu Chang Wan
(A Drunken Fisherman Sings in the Evening);
Music more beautiful than a famous poem.
- Yao Tian Sheng He (Jade Sheng Heavenly Crane);
Wangzi Qiao rides a crane
- Feng Qiu Huang
(A Male Phoenix Seeks his Mate);
A famous Chinese love story.
- Zhongqiu Yue
The brightest moon of the year.
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a
Selecting Reality (采真遊 Cai Zhen You)
This calligraphy (compare 採真遊) was written by 愛新覺羅毓泉 Aisin Gioro Yuquan (1945 - ; also 愛新覺羅 毓泉 Aisingioro Yuquan) during May 2008 at a studio in the Forbidden City, Beijing. (Larger size;
I have a particular interest in modern paintings that show evidence of the artist's training in Chinese traditional art: in this way it is similar to the policy I had when recommending groups for the Hong Kong
Festival of Asian Arts. Unfortunately, it has not been easy to find affordable art along these lines that also has themes connected to those of qin melodies.
When taking images from other websites I always try to give a reference to the location of the original, include a link to the place from which I took it, and, where appropriate and possible, ask for permission. Unfortunately, many websites, particularly in China, seem to have no interest in giving credit to sources.
Return to the Guqin ToC.