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Title: Introduction

The Southern Song portion of the Song dynasty, lasting for 153 years (from 1127 to 1279), was a crucial period in the history of China's cultural development. The Southern Song court not only promoted itself as inheriting the line of orthodox rule by reinvigorating traditional rules of rites and music, it also helped breathe life into literary trends of the Jiangnan area in the south, attaching great importance to education in Confucian studies, converging Buddhist and Daoist thought, and firmly establishing Zhu Xi as representing the Confucian orthodoxy in the study of the Classics. Furthermore, the court successfully encouraged various forms of economic development, to such an extent that agriculture expanded, commerce thrived, handicrafts blossomed, and foreign trade flourished at this time. Economic prosperity helped drive the winds of change in art and culture as well. All forms of literary expression reveal in one way or another fulfillment of the Way as well as the scholarly pursuit of ease and naturalness. Cultivated scholars were fond of connoisseurship and collecting objects of culture and refinement, paying particular attention to expressions of taste in life. In terms of painting and calligraphy as well as arts and crafts, guidance from the imperial family, new geographic and climatic conditions of the area, and changes in humanistic trends all helped to yield unique and highly artistic qualities in both content and form that had a profound influence on developments in later art.

Today, objects surviving from the Southern Song are not only artworks of immense aesthetic value, they also serve as ideal evidence to explain cultural modes of the period. To present a complete overview of Southern Song art and culture, the displays in this exhibition feature a large number of precious artifacts of the period from the National Palace Museum collection. Painting and calligraphy, for example, include examples of imperial calligraphy, the works of court artists, scholar-official painting and calligraphy, and calligraphy by famous sages, important officials, and Buddhist and Daoist figures. The antiquities feature Guan (Official) porcelains, Duan inkstones, jade carvings, and bronze mirrors. And along with numerous Song editions of rare books, this exhibit consists of more than 400 works in all. In addition, the National Palace Museum has arranged for loans of Southern Song artifacts from more than ten other institutions and individuals, including the Tokyo National Museum and Kyoto National Museum in Japan as well as the Shanghai Museum, Liaoning Provincial Museum, Zhejiang Provincial Museum, and Fujian Museum in China, providing a full presentation of the innovations and achievements in Southern Song art and culture.

The exhibit is scheduled to run from October 8 to December 26, 2010. The numerous works of painting and calligraphy, antiquities, and rare books are being displayed in ten galleries on the first and second floors of the Museum's main exhibit building. The four sections of the exhibit ("Cultural Invigoration," "Artistic Innovation," "Life Aesthetics," and "Transmission and Fusion") help explain how the Southern Song promoted, respectively, the notion of continuing the orthodox line of rule, innovative artistic tastes, aesthetic ideas in the Jiangnan area, and various directions in regional exchange and transmission in cultural circles through painting and calligraphy, arts and crafts, and books and publishing. In doing so, the rich and unique forms and content of Southern Song art and culture are revealed for all to study and appreciate.

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