選單圖示選單圖示

National Palace Museum

Flights of Fragrance at a Fingertip: The World of Birds and Flowers in Painting, Tapestry, and Embroidery

The beautiful colors of birds and flowers, being full of rhythm and vitality, always evoke images of beauty, which is why artists have repeatedly turned to these subjects over the ages. As early as the Shang and Zhou dynasties, birds and flowers were already important decorative motifs in Chinese art. By the Tang dynasty, when the techniques of painting began to mature, "birds and flowers" became an independent category in art. Chinese painting then reached a level of maturity as its methods further developed and diversified in the Five Dynasties period. In the Song dynasty, "bird-and-flower painting" experienced a heyday, when the idea of "sketching from life" to render forms as they appear in nature became the trend. Then, when literati art took hold during the Yuan dynasty, bird-and-flower painting came under its influence, adding the untrammeled aura of monochrome ink to this category. Artists in the subsequent Ming and Qing dynasties followed traditions of the past as bird-and-flower painting in the "sketching ideas" manner blossomed. In all, painters depicting birds and flowers through the ages have constantly engaged in a dialogue with nature. With consummate techniques and spiritual sustenance, they have created a rich and spectacular tapestry of art. In addition to painting, the subject of birds and flowers also became popular in the textile arts of tapestry and embroidery. Using nimble needlework and refined textile methods, imitations of painting soon emerged in tapestry. Starting from the Song dynasty, artistic forms of tapestry and embroidery appeared for the sole sake of appreciation, their silk threads manipulated like brushwork to convey extraordinary expressions of art. This exhibition catalogue presents 50 artifacts comprising paintings, tapestries, and embroideries made on the subject of birds and flowers. The artifacts have been divided into five sections: "The Vitality of Things Observed," "The Beauty of Decoration," "The Ingenuity of Composition," "The Meaning of Metaphor," and "The Wonders of Technique." These sections will take readers on a journey into the world of art creation and on the subject of birds and flowers, spanning across a period of more than thousands of years as they study arts made from the Song to the Qing dynasties. They will learn about the ideas of artists and their skillful arrangements of motifs while also explore the metaphors and symbols that give further meaning to the unique features as well as artistic accomplishments of these works. Furthermore, they will see artworks featuring birds and flowers being brought together with other mediums such as paintings, tapestry, embroidery, lacquered-silk painting, and rare books, offering clues to their interrelationship. In addition to the exhibition overview, section descriptions, and introduction of selected artifacts, the curators of this exhibition carefully studied the development of tapestries and embroideries as well as the origins and techniques of paintings, tapestries, and embroideries before writing an article on the "Craft of Paintings, Tapestries, and Embroideries," which is included in this exhibition catalogue. As readers admire these marvelous works, they will hopefully come away with an even greater understanding of the varied facets to birds and flowers in Chinese art.
Flights of Fragrance at a Fingertip: The World of Birds and Flowers in Painting, Tapestry, and Embroidery
Flights of Fragrance at a Fingertip: The World of Birds and Flowers in Painting, Tapestry, and Embroidery