Zhao Mengjian / Narcissus / Southern Song dynasty (1127?1279)Zhao Mengjian
Southern Song dynasty (1127?1279)

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Dates/Places: China 1199?before 1267
Creator Name-CRT: Zhao Mengjian
Title: Narcissus
View: Principal view
Creation Start Date: 1127
Creation End Date: 1279
Creation Date: Southern Song dynasty (1127?1279)
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Materials and Techniques: handscroll; ink on paper
Dimensions: 13 1/16 x 146 9/16 in. (33.2 x 372.2 cm)

Zhao Mengjian, a member of the Song imperial family and an accomplished scholar and calligrapher, specialized in painting narcissi and raised the flower to the level of the orchid in the esteem of scholars.

Offering the promise of spring, the narcissus is known in Chinese as the "water goddess" (shuixian) or "the goddess who stands above the waves" (lingbo xianzi). The fragrant blossoms are associated with the two goddesses of the Xiang River and, by extension, with Qu Yuan (ca. 343?277 B.C.), author of Li Sao (On Encountering Sorrow). Qu Yuan, a loyal minister of the state of Chu, drowned himself in a tributary of the Xiang River after failing to alert his prince of the imminent danger threatening the state.

In a poem appended to the scroll after the Mongol conquest, the Song loyalist Qiu Yuan (1247?after 1327) describes Zhao's narcissi as the only vision of life in an otherwise devastated land:

The shiny bronze dish is upset,/and the immortals' dew spilled;/The bright jade cup is smashed, like broken coral./I pity the narcissus for not being the orchid./Which at least had known the sober minister from Chu.

AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York
ID Number: 1973.120.4
Credit Line: Ex coll.: C.C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973
Copyright: Copyright ? 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art . All rights reserved.
Rights: http://www.metmuseum.org/education/er_photo_lib.asp
AMICA ID: MMA_.1973.120.4
AMICA Library Year: 2002
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright (c) 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All Rights Reserved

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