選單圖示選單圖示

National Palace Museum

Elegant Gathering of the Princess:The Culture of Appreciating and Collecting Art at the Mongol Yuan Court

By studying Chinese art history, one will observe that it generally revolved around men and that women were rarely the center of art history-related activities. However, the following story is one of the few exceptions: On the 23rd day of the third lunar month in the third year of the Zhizhi reign in the Yuan dynasty (corresponding to April 28, 1323), a prominent Mongolian princess by the name of Sengge Ragi held an elegant gathering at Tianqing Temple south of the capital Dadu (modern-day Beijing). During the event, she took out works of Chinese paintings and calligraphy from her collection for the appreciation of those in attendance and invited them to write inscriptions. This elegant gathering has come to be seen as a means for the ruling Mongols to proclaim their acceptance and appreciation of the high arts of Chinese paintings and calligraphy. From the perspective of cultural history, this shows the few instances where women were the collector of Chinese paintings and calligraphy.

Elegant Gathering of the Princess: The Culture of Appreciating and Collecting Art at the Mongol Yuan Court (a special exhibition hosted by the National Palace Museum (NPM)) displays a list of 41 works presented by Princess Sengge Lagi at the gathering; such information was collected using Yuan dynasty literati Yuan Jue's records and related literature information. Based on the number of paintings and calligraphy stamped with the princess' collection seal "Library of the Imperial Elder Sister," scholars surmised that the princess had more than 50 works in her collection. These works included calligraphy masterpieces, flower and bird paintings, palatial building paintings (drawn with the aid of a ruler), and religious paintings. The princess also had in her collection paintings of contemporary painters from the Yuan dynasty. Her collection of works exemplifies her knowledge of and appreciation for history as well as her thirst for having a rich and diversified work collection. These works are representative of their respective painting styles, some of which are now painting and calligraphy masterpieces housed in the NPM.

For this special exhibition catalogue, the curators compared historical documents, studied NPM's collection of paintings and calligraphy, and referred to information provided by collection consultants to gain insight into the collection of works. Similar to the special exhibition, this catalogue is divided into four themes, which are "Library of the Imperial Elder Sister," "The Imperial Collection," "Inscriptions by Scholars," and "Diversity in Art." In addition, this catalogue delves into the history of Mongolian culture in the Yung dynasty as well as the sparks stirred by the conflicts between Central Asian culture and Chinese culture as the Mongols took over China. Although no portraits of the princess can be found from the elegant gathering, the festivity still provides future generations with invaluable information pertaining to the history of Mongolian culture in the Yuan dynasty, enabling them to make further investigations.

Elegant Gathering of the Princess:The Culture of Appreciating and Collecting Art at the Mongol Yuan Court
Elegant Gathering of the Princess:The Culture of Appreciating and Collecting Art at the Mongol Yuan Court