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Title: Transmission and Fusion

Painting and Calligraphy Section

In the Southern Song period, communication in art and culture with foreign lands occurred not only through exchange among people and goods with the Jin dynasty to the north, but also in the development of trade with areas to the southeast and southwest. Of particular importance was the expansion of foreign trade via sea routes. With the rise of large harbors dealing in foreign trade at Guangzhou, Quanzhou, Lin'an, and Mingzhou (Ningbo, Zhejiang), the area of trade expanded to the South China Sea and west to as far as Persia, the Mediterranean Sea, and East Africa. The development of Chan (Zen) Buddhist painting and calligraphy was also an important link for the spread of Song culture. Works of calligraphy by such Chan masters as Dahui Zonggao, Wuzhun Shifan, Jingsou Jujian, Xutang Zhiyu, and Defu on loan from the Tokyo National Museum, along with "Lohan" paintings attributed to Su Hanchen and a portrayal of "Budai" to Muqi from the Kyoto National Museum, further testify to relations with Japan that took place at this time.

Immortal in Splashed Ink (New window)

Immortal in Splashed Ink

Liang Kai (fl. early 13th c.), Song dynasty
Album leaf, ink on paper, 48.7 x 27.7 cm

Liang Kai was a native of Dongping in Shandong who settled in Qiantang (modern Hangzhou, Zhejiang). In the Jiatai era (1201-1204) he served as Painter-in-Attendance. He refused the prestigious Golden Belt, however, leaving it hanging at the imperial court.

In this painting, the second leaf from the album "Assorted Gems of Famous Paintings," is a squinting immortal chuckling as he walks along. With his chest and abdomen exposed, he seems to be shuffling forward. Except for the fine outlines of his head and facial features, nearly all of the clothing was done with wet applications of monochrome ink. The brush was freely handled to bring out everything in the thoroughly drunken appearance of this immortal. This type of unrestrained painting by Liang Kai, with its abbreviated brushwork rich in Chan overtones, was highly favored by Japanese monks and laymen, later having a great influence on Zen painting in Japan.

Antiquities Section

The Southern Song was a time of commerce, with paper money in wide circulation as well as gold, silver leaves or ingots being common currencies, whereas its copper coins went beyond the borders and became the key medium of exchange in many surrounding nations. Through the frontier trading posts, the jewelry and porcelain of the Jin State arrived in the Jiangnan and vast quantities of tea, silk, and herbs of the Southern Song shipped north. Jin and Song as a result shared kindred spirit artistically and literarily. Sea routes also took Chinese merchandise far and wide to many other Asian countries; foreign merchants reaching the shores of China in return brought enriching cultural messages. At the same time, the Taiwan Island and its nearby islets saw the coming and going of the Southern Song traders; their footprints are still here today for us to reminisce about a splendid past.

Kendi with green glaze, Cizau ware, Southern Song (New window)

Kendi with green glaze, Cizao ware of Quanzhou

Southern Song to Yuan dynasties, 13th-14th C.
Donated by Dr. Ip Yee
Collection of National Palace Museum

"Kundika" is a Sanskrit word that means a cleansing water bottle, which is used for carrying water and for washing one's hands. This kundika is long and straight at the neck, the center section angled; the tube-shaped spout is also long and thin, the surface decorated with simple horizontal lines. The lead green glaze was fired in low temperature. This is a product of the Cizau ware of Fujian.

The Cizau ware was located in the vicinity of Jinjiang in southern Fujian, near Quanzhou, and had been making ceramics and porcelain since the 5th century. During the Song and Yuan Dynasties Quanzhou had established a "Bureau of Foreign Trade" to manage the foreign trade market, and by virtue of its diversity of products and convenience of location, Cizau ware had successfully exported many of its ceramic and porcelain products to the South Pacific region. Income from foreign trade was an important resource for the national treasury during the Southern Song Period, and fabric, coins, lacquer ware and porcelain were all major export items. Large and small kilns could be found in Fujian and Guangdong along the southeastern coast, and besides supplying the daily needs of the domestic market, they also produced many items to meet the special needs of foreign markets. This green glaze kundika was one such product created for the overseas market, and is testimony to the lively trading activities between China and Southeast Asia at the time.

Books Section

During the Southern Song period rule by the literati and literary pursuits were highly emphasized. Reading and other aspects of culture were the height of fashion from the government to the private sector, from governmental officials to every people. While this trend demonstrates on the one hand the diversity of printed books and reading options, on the other hand it is inspired by the revolution of the paper-making and printing industry. These changes gave rise to a new age of printing culture during the Southern Song Period.

Transmission and fusion of culture are heavily reliant upon the printing, selling and distribution of books. Both the Southern Song government and printers from the private sector made use of their respective advantages in printing books. Governmental publications were widely circulated and finely printed, while private publishers made use of advertising and marketing in making known their publication rights. Both government and private sector printed books ultimately became parts of private collections, while others were transmitted to other countries as testament to the richness of cultural fusion.

This exhibition of books from the Southern Song enables one to better understand the various aspects of cultural transmission and fusion. We also have this opportunity to appreciate this glorious period in international transmission of books that is the Southern Song.

The Literary Collection of Zhu Xi (New window)

The Literary Collection of Zhu Xi

Written by Zhu Xi of Song dynasty
Zhejiang imprint of Southern Song dynasty between 1195 and 1224, with revision of Yuan dynasty

The renowned Southern Song Confucian master, Zhu Xi (1130~1200), style names Yuanhui, Zhonghui, with sobriquets Huiweng, Tun- weng and Sick Man of Cangzhou later in his life, was born in Nanping, Fujian, and his ancestors came from Wuyuan, Jiangxi. During his lifetime he studied a great variety of fields; in addition to Confucianism, he had also written extensively on philosophy, ethics, history, political science, philology and philological theory. His youngest son, Zhu Zai, compiled his treatises and edited them to become the The Literary Collection of Zhu Xi.

The Literary Collection of Zhu Xi comprises of 100 volumes and was compiled during the late of Ningzong Emperor and the early of Lizong Emperor. During Southern Song the printing industry was highly developed; in the beginning the imperial printers and private printers had generally focused on duplicate prints or reprints of Northern Song editions. At first the printers had primarily published books on Confucianism and references for imperial examinations; later as poetry and literature became more popular, the poetry and prose of famous Tang and Song literati also became popular for publication, leading to creation of a new print font that had a sculpturistic style, was concise in form and visually balanced, and that was unique in the history of printing development in China. The print font adopted by the Zhejiang edition was highly regular in character stroke order and strict in structure, resembling the writing style of Ouyang Xun of Tang Dynasty. The version exhibited here is the Zhejiang official edition; two copies are in the National Palace Museum collection, but both are incomplete. This edition is not the first edition, but a later edition repaired during Yuan Dynasty. Originally the book comprised of 100 volumes but now only 54 remained. The book was compiled soon after Zhu Xi passed away, and in terms of structure this edition has preserved the format of the first edition, which serves as excellent reference for determining the authenticity of contents of later editions through the ages. The plate form, binding and carving of this edition are also references for identification the edition of Song Dynasty.
Critical Compilation of All Books by Mr. Shantang (New window)

Critical Compilation of All Books by Mr. Shantang

Written by Zhang Ruyu of Song dynasty
Pocket-sized edition of Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279)

The Critical Compilation of All Books by Mr. Shantang compiled by Zhang Ruyu of Song Dynasty, also referred to as the "Critical Compilation by Mr. Shantang" or "Critical Compilation of All Books", was an important reference material for imperial examinations during the Southern Song Dynasty.

Zhang Ruyu, style name Junqing, was a native of Jinhua, Wuzhou (now Jinhua, Zhejiang).  Having angered the powerful Han Tuozhou, he resigned from his position and returned to teach in the mountains. He was respected far and wide as a teacher, and was referred to as "Mr. Shantang". His compilation of "Shantang Examination Reference" originally comprised of 100 volumes in 10 catalogues, which was continuously added during the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, and it finally became 212 volumes in 46 catalogues. The entire treatise compiles the current political affairs and system of ceremony from earlier dynasties, citing innumerous classics and historical records, and can be said to be a most comprehensive reference. The National Palace Museum holds only 10 volumes of one anthology, "Governmental Appointment System", covering the subjects of positions and offices, examinations, remuneration, official farms, employ, honors and awards.

These volumes are bound in the so-called "Pocket-sized Edition (kerchief box)" format, which is one of the special characteristics of these volumes. "Kerchief box" refers to the small box used to carry head-kerchiefs in ancient times. The publishers had deliberately published books in small sizes so that the scholars could conveniently carry them in their kerchief boxes, and these were then referred to as "Pocked-sized Edition". The book exhibited here not only to demonstrate how the popularity of imperial examinations had affected published contents of books at the time; more importantly, the ease of carriage of kerchief box editions evidences the convenience and diversity of dissemination of books during the Southern Song Dynasty.

Study Notes of Zhao Gongwu (New window)

Study Notes of Zhao Gongwu

Written by Zhao Gongwu and continued by Zhao Xibian of Song dynasty
Li Anchao imprint in Yuanzhou of Southern Song dynasty in 1249, with later additions and revisions

Zhao Gongwu (circa 1105~1180), style name "Zizhi", was native of Juye, Shandung. His family resided Shaode area of Bianjing, and he was therefore referred to as "Mr. Shaode". His work Study Notes of Zhao Gongwu is the earliest index of a private book collection with title explanations surviving in China today. Many of the items in his collection were books not mentioned of "Song History", and not only supplements the omissions in Song History: Art and Literature Record but also serves as a reference for various Classics and treatises written before and during Song Dynasty. In ancient times categories adopted for library indexes were created based on the kinds of books actually in the collection; the book collector would refer to the prevailing academic customs and earlier methods of indexing, in creating an indexing system that best expresses the particular characteristics of his book collection and that is most convenient to use. Study Notes of Zhao Gongwu not only shows cultural characteristics unique to those times, but also expressly or implicitly convey the personal academic views of the book collector; this is the special quality of private book collections in Song Dynasty.

Erya: a Dictionary (New window)

Erya: a Dictionary

Annotated by Guo Pu of Jin dynasty
Directorate of Education imprint of Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279)

Erya: a Dictionary is the earliest dictionary in Chinese history. "Er" means "close", while "ya" means "correct / right" This is a tool book that uses the official language to interpret the meaning of ancient words, provincial dialects and rarely used words. The author is unknown, and the book was first written some time after Western Han Period. As spoken and written language had changed rapidly from the Cunchiu, Warring Kingdoms to the Western Han periods, later generations were soon unable to understand books from earlier periods; therefore Erya: a Dictionary, a tool book specializing in interpretation of ancient words, was born. Annotations of Erya: a Dictionary by Guo Pu (275~324) of Western Jin Period was highly popular amongst the literati, and these made "The Annotations to Erya: a Dictionary become the most widely disseminated today.

During the Northern and Southern Song Dynasties, imperial examinations became an important means for the government to recruit officials. At the time the Directorate of Education had adopted a duplicate print of Erya: a Dictionary from the Five Dynasties era as the official edition, but this edition contained annotations without explanations. During the middle of the Jinkang era the Directorate of Education edition was robbed by the invading Jin, so that not many of these remained; after the imperial family crossed to the south, the Directorate of Education first commissioned the counties in the vicinity of Linan City to remake plates for Erya: a Dictionary, and then ordered these counties to submit the plates to the Directorate of Education for preservation. Therefore, although this set of Erya: a Dictionary in the National Palace Museum collection is attributed to the Directorate of Education, in actual fact it had been made by some county in the vicinity of Linan. This set of Erya: a Dictionary has a broad columns, upright and powerful character style, and the characters are as large as coins. The majority of later scholars consider it to retain the book carving style of the Northern Song Dynasty, and it is now the world's sole surviving sample from that edition.

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