國立故宮博物院 National Palace Museum (New window)  |   Site Map   |   中文    |   English   |   日本語   |

Title: Cultural Invigoration

Painting and Calligraphy Section

After remnants of the Song court moved south following capture of the capital, and in response to the new political situation, geographical environment, and cultural atmosphere, the Southern Song rulers promoted art as a vehicle for the Way, paying particular attention to the edifying role of rites and music. Such emperors as Gaozong (along with Empress Wu), Xiaozong, and Ningzong (with Empress Yang) all followed previous members of the Song imperial family in showing an appreciation for the art of calligraphy. They emphasized the tradition of cultivation in the arts and used painting and calligraphy to put into practice the didactic function of art. Texts often mention stories of them personally transcribing the ancient Classics to be presented to the National University and local prefecture schools. Members of the imperial family also inscribed paintings with poetry, giving them to high officials. And by writing eulogies for paintings in praise of ancient rulers and sages, they further promoted traditional ethics in culture. By reaffirming the Confucian orthodoxy of morality, the Southern Song imperial clan re-established an ideal order for both politics and society.

Seated Portrait of Emperor Gaozong (New window)

Seated Portrait of Emperor Gaozong

Anonymous, Song dynasty (960-1279)
Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, 185.7 x 103.5 cm

After remnants of the Song court moved the south, Gaozong (Zhao Gou, 1107-1187), the first emperor of the Southern Song, actively searched for artists in an effort to reconstruct the court painting academy. He also strove to reassemble an imperial collection from the scattered works of painting and calligraphy, resulting in the quick rise and continued development of artistic activities in the Southern Song.

This portrait shows Emperor Gaozong wearing a black gauze cap with long horizontal slats and a crimson robe. With his gentle and refined scholarly appearance, his eyes seem to sparkle with life. This work was once severely damaged at some point in its history. When remounted in the Qing dynasty, the originally damaged background was removed and replaced with silk, to which coloring was washed in ink to match the rest. Although some difference appears in the colors, the originally coloring can fortunately still be seen in the surviving portion.

Seated Portrait of Ningzong's Empress (New window)

Seated Portrait of Ningzong's Empress

Anonymous, Song dynasty (960-1279)
Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, 189.5 x 110.2 cm

The original surname of Ningzong's Empress Yang (1162-1233) is unknown, because she entered the court as a youth with her adoptive mother and served as an actress. Under the care and guidance of the emperor's mother, Grand Empress Wu, she was presented to Ningzong, thereafter rising quickly. Among court officials was one known as Yang Cishan, whom she took as her elder brother, which is why Yang also called herself "Yang Meizi" ("Younger Sister Yang"). Although Empress Yang was born of humble origins, she was able to become quite learned, being very gifted at poetry and painting. Her calligraphy style very similar to that of Emperor Ningzong, she often served as his writer.

In this portrait, Empress Yang is shown wearing a dragon hairpin floral crown with her hands clasped as she sits upright in a backed chair. She has a multicolored robe with large sleeves, the cloth embroidered with a pattern of pheasants in pairs known as "alternating pheasants."

Imperial Order Presented to Yue Fei (New window)

Imperial Order Presented to Yue Fei

Emperor Gaozong (1107-1187), Song dynasty
Handscroll, ink on paper, 36.7 x 61.5 cm

In the autumn of 1137, during the early Southern Song, Yue Fei (1103-1142) led troops on an inspection tour of border defenses against the Jurchen of the Jin. Emperor Gaozong (r. 1127-1162) wrote this imperial missive in response to Yue Fei's report, praising and exhorting his steadfast loyalty to the country.

In his early years Gaozong (personal name Zhao Gou) studied the calligraphy of his father, Emperor Huizong of the late Northern Song, specializing somewhat in the styles of such famous Northern Song scholar-calligraphers as Huang Tingjian and Mi Fu. Later, Gaozong traced his studies back to the "Sage Calligrapher," Wang Xizhi, copying the brush methods of ancient masters from the Wei and Jin up to the Six Dynasties period. Gaozong consequently had an enormous impact on the practice of calligraphy at the Southern Song court. This letter written in regular script also has elements of running script. The strokes and dots are refined, the bearing of characters quite elegant. Though it belongs to the category of an imperial decree and was written at a time of compelling military concern, the line spacing from beginning to end is consistent, fully revealing Gaozong's achievement in calligraphy.

''The Classic of Filial Piety'' in Painting and Calligraphy Anonymous, Song dynasty (960-1279) (New window)

"The Classic of Filial Piety" in Painting and Calligraphy

Anonymous, Song dynasty (960-1279)
Album leaf, ink (and colors) on silk, 28.4 x 35.9 cm
(Calligraphy originally attributed to Gaozong [1107-1187] and painting to Ma Hezhi [fl. 1131-1189])

This album originally was probably a long handscroll with alternating images and texts but later, due to extensive damage, was remounted into an album leaf format with painting and calligraphy separated. The paintings employ different settings to interpret the dual meaning of complete filial duty and loyalty to the ruler among people at different levels of society. The texts and images complement each other, fully expressing the intent behind the work of "expounding views in words for the virtuous ruler."

Although the style of calligraphy is similar to that of Emperor Gaozong, it is probably from the hand of a writer in the Imperial Calligraphy Academy. The style of the painting, moreover, is completely unlike that of Ma Hezhi, with some of the landscape texturing being closer instead to that of Li Tang and Xiao Zhao. Nonetheless, the Song inscriptions on the endpiece are all authentic, so this album should perhaps be re-titled as an anonymous Song dynasty painting and calligraphy of The Classic of Filial Piety.

Letter on Government Affairs (New window)

Letter on Government Affairs

Zhu Xi (1130-1200), Song dynasty
Album leaf, ink on paper, 33.3 x 47.8 cm

Zhu Xi was a synthesizer of Neo-Confucian thought in the Southern Song, spending his entire career pursuing an ambition to establish a new order for his country. Zhu Xi was excited to hear that Emperor Xiaozong in his later years wanted to recruit Neo-Confucian scholars to reform the government, but unfortunately the emperor passed away not long after reforms had begun, bringing them to an abrupt end.

This letter was written with great speed and force, being composed on Zhu Xi's way to the capital after leaving office as Administrator of Tanzhou (modern Changsha, Hunan) in the eighth month of 1194. The contents are directed to a subordinate in dealing with government matters in Tanzhou. The first passage mentions Zhu's sorrow at "national mourning," referring to the death of Xiaozong in the sixth month of that year. But with Emperor Ningzong assuming the throne in the seventh month, Zhu had the opportunity to teach at court, immediately bringing him great joy.

Antiquities Section

When the Southern Song Dynasty moved its capital and political center south, the court declared its legitimate mandate and continuity of rule through solemn ritual ceremonies offered to Heaven, Earth and ancestors. With most of their ritual wares of jade and bronze having been either lost or dispersed in great upheaval, the government had to make do with articles made of other materials such as ceramics, wood, and bamboo instead. So they commissioned from the Official Kiln celadon wares modeled on bronzes in shape, and on the glazes of Ru Ware in color.

The Song people were very serious about proper rituals. The Xuanhe Catalogue of Antiques, a major, comprehensive antiquarian compilation by Emperor Huizong of the Northern Song and his officials, became the guiding reference for the Southern Song in its effort to reinstate the ritual ware system. After verification and correction, new updated diagrams were made and issued nationwide, for all local Confucian shrine temples to consult and follow. The revival of the past and emphasis on rituals are also reflected in contemporary bronzes and jade articles.

Celadon-glazed zun vessel, Guan ware Southern Song dynasty (New window)

Celadon-glazed zun vessel, Guan ware

Southern Song dynasty

This celadon zun vessel has a flared mouth, compressed round center and solid foot. Its surface is covered in thick and even celadon glaze, the glaze bright and warm. Its outer wall displays four vertical ridgelines, and due to the slightly thinner layer of glaze bordering the ridgelines, one can see the original dark brown color of the clay below. Due to differences in the speed of heat expansion and cold contraction by the glaze and the clay during the firing process, irregular light-colored crack lines appear on the surface of the zun vessel. This is referred to as "cracks" and is a particular characteristic of porcelain made by imperial kilns. The zun vessel is elegant and solemn.

Following the Jingkang Crisis towards the end of the Northern Song Period, the Jin Army conquered northern China and the Song emperor hurriedly traveled southwards, shifting the political center of the country to the south. It was highly necessary for the emperor to hold religious rituals and announce to the people the authenticity of the emperor's political powers. During such war-battered times when so much lay in waste, however, it was difficult to obtain well-made bronze or jade ware to serve as ceremonial vessels. The imperial administration therefore ordered that ceramic, porcelain and wooden wares be used temporarily and be mass produced. The initial kilns for making of imperial porcelain were located in Huiji, Suzhou and Hangzhou, with Hangzhou being the main location. Under imperial supervision, the earliest Southern Song imperial kiln porcelain all had standard forms. As these ceramic and porcelain wares were intended to replace bronze ritualistic vessels, some of the early Southern Song imperial kiln porcelain closely resembled ancient bronze vessels. This particular celadon vessel was made to imitate the shape of ancient bronze "Zun vessels".

Books Section

Southern Song dynasty had achieved innovation in many fields, including Jingxue, Lixue, technological development and historical studies.

In the field of Jingxue (the study of Confucian classics), Southern Song continued its research by following the footstep of Northern Song and went further to develop new interpretations.

Confucianism and its studies experienced a revival in Song dynasty and evolved to form as Lixue ("Learning of the Principle", also known as Neo-Confucianism), from which were derived different schools. Zhu Xi, being the great synthesizer, advocated that through investigation of things and cultivation of one's mind, the ultimate truth and wisdom can be attained, while Lu Jiuyuan established Xinxue ("Learning of the Mind"). Lixue became the major intellectual force of Southern Song dynasty.

During Southern Song period, development in technology went on. Moreover, it revealed its unique ways of thinking and approach toward technology. Yang Hui's Mathematical Methods ushers in the beginning of mathematics education. Chen Fu's The Book of Agriculture records the cultivation technology of rice.

Study of history was extremely popular during the Southern Song Period, and a great number of historians wrote excellent treatises and records. Li Tao's A Sequel to the Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Governance compiled historical events from the nine reigns of the Northern Song Period; Li Xinchuan's A Chronicle of the Most Important Events since the Jianyan Period recorded historical events during the reign of Gaozong of Song Dynasty; Yuan Shu's Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Governance, a Narrative Edition created historical chronicles as a form of recording history; Zheng Qiao's A General History expanded the scope of historical recordings about governmental and administration systems.

The Four Books, with a Collection of Comments (New window)

The Four Books, with a Collection of Comments

Written by Zhu Xi of Song dynasty
Inner court imprint of Qing dynasty (1644-1912), imitation edition under Chunyou reign (1174-1189) of Southern Song dynasty

Zhu Xi (1130~1200) was a native of Wuyuan, Huizhou, and was born in Youxi of southern Jianzhou (now Fujian); he later resided in Kaoting, Jianyang. He had style names Yuanhui, Zhonghui, the sobriquet Huian, and was also referred to as Huion, Master Ziyang and Master Kaoting later in his life. He is respectfully referred to by posterity as "Zhuzi". The Four Books, with a Collection of Comments and comprises of one volume of "Chapters from The Great Learning", ten volumes of "Compilations of The Analects of Confucius", seven volumes of "Compilations of Mencius", and one volume of "Chapters from Doctrine of the Mean". The Great Learnin and Doctrine of the Mean were originally chapters from The Classics of Rites, and were singled out and separately discussed only from Song Dynasty.  The title The Four Books was given by Zhu Xi, who separated the classics from the biographies in The Great Learning, and also renumbered the chapters and supplemented missing sections from Doctrine of the Mean, referring to them as "Chapters". The Analects of Confucius and Mencius were compilations of the various masters, and were therefore referred to as "Compilations". The original compilation placed the greatest emphasis on The Great Learning, followed by The Analects of Confucius, and then Mencius and Doctrine of the Mean, indicating the order of learning. The Four Books, with a Collection of Comments reflects Zhu Xi's scholarly style, carefully considering each and every sentence, referring to and combining accounts by other scholars, placing emphasis on elucidation of logic and annotating his own opinions. The main theme of Chapters from The Great Learning is an "inquiring mind", describing the learning process of "finding the righteous path in everything". Zhu Xi had devoted his life to Compilations of the Four Books, and not only has a unique position and influence in the Neo-Confucianism, he had also included Mencius as one of the classics. Together with The Analects of Confucius, Erya: a Dictionary, The Book of Filial Piety and the "Nine Classics" from the Tang Dynasty, these now form the official "Thirteen Classics. The Four Books was a milestone in the history of Chinese literary classics.

Commentaries on the Rites of Zhou (New window)

Commentaries on the Rites of Zhou

Annotated by Zheng Xuan of Han dynasty, with comments by Jia Gongyan of Tang dynasty
Early Southern Song official imprint, with revisions during Yuan and Ming dynasties

The Confucian classics are unshakeable as proponents of principles of the world. In their attempt to revitalize culture, the Song literati must also start from interpretation of the classics.

"The Rites of Zhou", also referred to as "The Book of Zhou Officials", describes the governmental system of the Zhou Dynasty and the responsibilities of each official. To a certain extent, it is quite idealistic and is a must-read for all literati. It was said that this book was written by Zhou Gong, divided into six chapters: "Officies of Heaven (Tianguan Zhongzai)", "Officies of Earth (Diguan Situ)", "Officies of Spring (Chuanguan Zongbo)", "Officies of Summer (Xiaguan Sima)", "Officies of Autumn (Qiuguan Sikong)" and "Officies of Winter (Dongguan Sikong)". Zheng Xuan of Eastern Han (127~200) annotated the full book based on the views expressed by other famous scholars, while commentaries were provided by Jia Gongyen, a renowned scholar during the Tang Dynasty. "The Rites of Zhou" was especially meaningful for the Song literati; not only did they fully concur with the political and educational ideals expressed in the book, they also considered the governmental system described in the book a sound basis for governmental reforms during Song Dynasty.

This "Bureau of Tea and Salt edition" prints the original text, the notes and the commentaries in one book, a practice that first began in the reign of Gaozong Emperor of Southern Song Dynasty and reflected the popularity of scholarly pursuits during Southern Song Dynasty, as well as innovativeness in study of the classics. This practice facilitated the in-depth reading required for imperial examinations, and was followed by posterity. As a result there were "revised editions", which means that books were reprinted and published from printing plates that were repaired twice or more. This is the evidence of showing the importance of Southern Song imprint.
Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Governance, a Narrative Edition (New window)

Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Governance, a Narrative Edition

Written by Yuan Shu of Song dynasty
Zhao Yuchou imprint in Houzhou of Southern Song dynasty in 1257, with revision
of Yuan and Ming dynasties

Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Governance, a Narrative Edition, comprising of 42 volumes, was composed by Yuan Shu of the Southern Song Dynasty. Yuan Shu (1131~1205), style name Jizhong, was a native of Jianan (now Jianou in Fujian). Having passed the imperial examination in the first year of in the 1st Year of Longxing period (1163), he had worked on composing the chronicles of Chinese history as an editor of the National Historical Institute, and strictly adhered to the court historian's principle of stating the truth without concealments. Yuan Shu had enjoyed studying the Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government by Sima Guang, but was troubled by the extensiveness of its contents. In order to thoroughly understand this book, Yuan Shu had composed the Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Governance, a Narrative Edition, creating a new form of historical records. Ever since the Han Dynasty, historical records had been either biographical or chronological; however, biographical records often repeatedly referred to a single incident in several chapters, while chronological records resulted in an incident being recorded in different volumes and scrolls.  Yuan Shu had the innovative idea of having each historical event being a separate unit, combining the spirits of both biographical and chronological recording, thereby creating a new "full chronicle form". His book began with "Partition of Jin" and finally ended on "Conquer of Huainan by Emperor Shizong of Later Zhou", totaling 239 events with additional 66 events appended. The appearance of the "full chronicle form" of historical records in Southern Song Dynasty was particularly significant to the popularization and wide reach of historical studies, and therefore this book immediately enjoyed an important position in Southern Song. After Ming and Qing Dynasties, all kinds of books were printed under the titles of full chronicles, summarized chronicles and general plans. This exhibition displays the revision during during Yuan and Ming Dynasties printed by Zhao Yuchou in the 5th year of Baoyou period of Southern Song Dynasty, which was originally preserved in the Tianlu Linglang Library of the Qing Palace. In the phrase "Political discussions between Taizong Emperor and his vassals in the reign of Zhengguan period", the word "Zhen" was prohibited during Song Dynasty because of it referred to the emperor's name; therefore, it was replaced by anther "Zhen' character.

The Book of Agriculture (New window)

The Book of Agriculture

Written by Chen Fu of Song dynasty
From the Siku Quanshu Library of the Wenyuan Pavilion of Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty

Chen Fu's Book of Agriculture is the oldest existing book exclusively on the subject of rice farming in southern China, and comprised of more than 12,000 characters in three scrolls.  It was first written in the 19th year of Shaoxing period (1149). The first scroll described the production, operation and techniques of a farming business; the middle scroll focused on breeding of cattle; and the last scroll showed on the raising of silkworms.

Chen Fu (1076~?) had adopted the sobriquets "Secluded Quanzhenzi in Xishan" and "Quanzhenzi of Rushi"; he was a Taoist of the Quanzhen School. Chen had lived as a hermit in Xishan at Yizhen County of Huaihai East Road (now Yihui County of Jiangsu Province), producing on his own farm. Besides relying on his own agricultural observations, he had also sought advice from older farmers, finally completing this book at the age of 74, in the manner of The Art of Governing the People and Essential Farming Activities in Four Seasons from earlier dynasties.

In addition to planting of rice, the Book of Agriculture also expounded upon the so-called "six crops". The "six crops" are "upland crops", referring to crops on dry land, that is hemp, millet, sesame, soybean, radish, Chinese cabbage and wheat. Chen Fu's attention to upland crops had a special historical importance. Since Song Dynasty, the government had emphasized the importance of upland plantations from the perspective of defense against natural disasters. According to governmental orders and letters of persuasion from local officials to farmers, the policy was to increase rice production in the north while promoting more upland plantation in the south – the traditional rice plantation regions – so as to make preparation in the event of food shortages. Based on experiences in planting of upland crops in the south, Chen Fu concluded that the order of planting is important in the planting of upland crops, and one should plant different crops according to the month of the year.

Yang Hui's Mathematical Methods (New window)

Yang Hui's Mathematical Methods

Written by Yang Hui of Song dynasty
Giyeongju imprint in Jaseon in 1433, recarving from Qingde Bookshop of Ming dynasty in 1378

Development of Chinese mathematics reached its greatest heights at the end of Southern Song Dynasty, with the appearance of four outstanding mathematicians: Qin Jiushou, Li Zhi, Yang Hui and Shijie.

Yang Hui's works were compiled by posterity into Yang Hui's Mathematical Methods, totaling 7 volumes, comprising of 3 volumes of "The Complete Variations of Multiplication and Division", 2 volumes of "Speedy Multiplication and Division Methods by Land Comparisons" and 2 volumes of "Impressive Calculations from Ancient Times". "The Complete Variations of Multiplication and Division" is the first mathematics textbook in Chinese history, and provides detailed instructions on progress, methods, teaching materials and hints. In this book Yang Hui pointed out the step-by-step process of mathematical studies, and pointed out highlights for each topic as well as the number of days required for studying each topic. The various speedy calculation methods set out in "Speedy Multiplication and Division Methods by Land Comparisons" reflected the history of calculation reforms prior to invention of the abacus. Yang Hui's Mathematical Methods also offered innovations regarding such mathematical concepts as high level polynomial equations and magic squares.  In addition, mathematical application books generally used in the Tang and Song Dynasties – such as Jia Xian's "Chart of Extractions of Roots" – are mostly lost, and these methods were passed on because of their inclusion in Yang Hui's Mathematical Methods.

One of the editions of Yang Hui's Mathematical Methods was published in the 11th year of Hongwu period of Ming Dynasty (1378), which was later carried to Korea. Korea then republished it with bronze movable type in 1433, and distributed 100 set to various departments. The book entered Japan during the 17th century, and was transcribed by the Japanese mathematician Seki Takakazu. It is therefore a highly influential mathematical work in the East Asia region.