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Fantastic Mountains,
Ming and Qing Dynasty Paintings from the Shanghai Museum

An exhibition at the Honolulu Academy of Arts 5 August through 3 October 2004
The performance took place Friday, 10 September 2004 at 7.30 PM (to open a related seminar)1

In Chinese literati culture mountains suggested natural beauty, reclusion, immortals and immortality, so naturally these associations are important within both the painting and the guqin repertoires. Chinese landscape painting often shows a scholar with his qin. Many qin melodies describe or are clearly set in mountain landscapes. And the most famous Chinese music story, which tells of a woodcutter who sees vividly the mountains and streams evoked by the qin player Bo Ya, was often depicted in paintings.

The page Guqin and mountains has links to introductions to many of the melodies relevant to this theme. The following are among those that connect most specifically to entries (79 in all, some of them multi-set) in this exhibition. The exhibition performance will feature melodies selected from amongst these titles.

Direct references to the qin2

  1. #14. "Spring outing on Mount Nüji (near Hua Shan)" has a poem mentioning "carrying a zither and wine"
    See Wine and the Guqin
  2. #46. "Striking green on autumnal hills" has a poem which says "with just a qin and a crane one can forget poverty altogether".
    See Birds and the Guqin
  3. #58. "Wind through pines on myriad ravines" shows a man playing the qin beside a flowing stream
    Catalogue comment: "Portraying a secluded qin player in a mountain setting with a tumbling waterfall was a popular theme in Ming and Qing landscape painting. The scene alludes to...a tune called 'High mountains and flowing streams.'"
  4. #69. "The Jiucheng Palace" shows a princess in a kiosk playing the qin for a companion
    See Women and the Guqin; although classical paintings very rarely depict a woman playing the qin alone, there were many famous women players

Qin melody references

  1. Xian Weng Cao (Melody of the Ancient Immortal; also Caoman Yin)
    a song/chant invoking Chen Tuan, a famous Northern Song dynasty Daoist
    #1. "Scenes of Mount Hua" includes a depiction of Chen Tuan
    #52. "12 views of Mount Hua"
  2. Feng Ru Song Ge (Song of Wind in the Pines)
    Set to lyrics by the Tang dynasty monk Jiao Ran (730-799)
    #53. "Pine Valley of Mount Huang"
    #57. "Wind through the Pines on Mount Tai"
    #58. "Wind through pines on myriad ravines"
  3. He Wu Dongtian (Cranes Dance in the Grotto-Heaven)
    sometimes used as a prelude to Pei Lan, it is also a natural prelude to Yao Tian Sheng He (see next)
    #29. "The Huayang Grotto-Heaven"
    #41. "Studying the Classic of Change"
  4. Yao Tian Sheng He (Jade Sheng Heavenly Crane)
    Wangzi Qiao becomes an immortal, riding off on a crane from a Song Shan peak
    #06. "Yellow Crane Pavilion" shows an immortal riding a crane.
    #15. "Crane companion" mentions Wangzi Qiao (no references to Song Shan)
  5. Gao Shan and Liu Shui; also Boya Diao Ziqi and Ting Qin Fu
    All these concern the story of the qin player Boya and the woodcutter Ziqi
    #53. "Pine Valley of Mount Huang"
  6. Qiao Ge (Song of the Woodcutter)
    The woodcutter (or woodgatherer) understands the Dao
    #21. "Gazing into the waterfall by the autumnal precipice"
    #75. "Homeward bound woodgatherer amongst mountains and streams"
  7. Liu Shang (Floating Wine-Cups)
    Concerns the famous Xiuxi which took place in 353 CE at the Orchid Pavilion
    #24. "Landscapes of Zhejiang" #5. Orchid Pavilion
  8. Zhongqiu Yue (Mid Autumn Moon)
    A short evocation
    #17. "Homeward-bound boat in the moonlight"
    #24. "Landscapes of Zhejiang", #17 ?
  9. Qiu Jiang Wan Diao (Evening Fishing on the Autumn River)
    The preface attributes this song to the famous recluse Yan Ziling
    #24. "Landscapes of Zhejiang" #18. Yan Stream Shoal
  10. Taoyuan Chunxiao (Spring Dawn at Peach Spring)
    Visiting an Elysium; the incomplete Tiantai Yin (see #62. "White Stones amid an unadulterated stream") tells another version
    #19. "Peach Blossom Spring"
    #22. "The Shanjuan Grotto"
    #23. "Lofty trees in a green grove"
    #27. "Peach Blossom Spring"
  11. Fan Canglang (Floating on the Canglang River), prelude to Xiao Xiang Shui Yun; or
    Zepan Yin (Marshbank Melody), prelude to Li Sao
    both preludes concern the Qu Yuan Yu Fu story about meeting a fisherman
    #8. "Sailing off in a boat in the mountain stream"
    #9. "Chanting verse while strolling through the snow"
    #11. "Washing feet in the Canglang waters"
  12. Yu Ge Diao and Yu Ge; also Zui Yu Chang Wan
    The fishermen represent scholars at ease in nature
    #8. "Sailing off in a boat in the mountain stream"
    #17. "Homeward-bound boat in the moonlight"
    #34. "Fisherman's flute in a stream"
    #39. "Boating with a crane after Ma Yuan"
    #65. "The unique studio"
  13. Qingjing Jing
    The lyrics are a Daoist morning lesson still sung at Mount Wudang
    #18. "Clearing after snow on Mount Wudang"
  14. Qiu Hong (Autumn Geese)
    The geese range between the Shanxi and Hunan mountain ranges
    #28. "A landscape painted for Kexue" (Hunan's Mount Heng)
    #40. "The great northern Mount Heng" (in Shanxi)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. The seminar took place 10 and 11 September 2004 (Return)
2. Comments refer to catalogue numbers in the exhibition catalogue:

Liu Yang, with Edmund Capon and Stephen Little
Fantastic Mountains, Ming and Qing Dynasty Paintings from the Shanghai Museum
Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2004 (Return)

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