Stories Behind the Summer Palace's Long Corridor Paintings2016-08-05 13:53:00Share:
The long corridor paintings in the summer palace are meandering, and the views inside changes as the viewer’s vantage point shifts. On each of its balks, there are exquisite colorful paintings.
They embody the wonderful decorative art of Chinese wooden buildings, whose genre belongs to the colorful Suzhou-styled paintings school. These paintings feature flowers, birds, insects, plants, legendary or historic stories, as well as landscapes, among which the most outstanding are the figural stories; those stories mostly originate from Chinese classic fictions.
Today, I will bring you to some of them.
Lady White Stealing the Immortal Herb
It is a story from the tale of the white serpent. Lady White met Xu Xian, a scholar, in a pleasure-boat on the West Lake. They fell in love at first sight and got married.
The following year at the dragon boat festival, every household hung up Chinese mugwort, drank realgar wine, and ate Zongzi, a pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. The snake is afraid of realgar wine, but lady white had to celebrate the festival with her husband as every other household did.
She accompanied her husband and drank a cup of wine. She then revealed her true identity and frightened Xu Xian to death. After lady white woke up, she went to mountain Kunlun for the magic fungus that would save the life of Xu Xian. She was discovered by the crane guard and deer spirits, and they fought fiercely.
At that moment the South Pole God returned, and lady white begged him for help. The god sympathized, and gave her the fungus that would save her husband.
Lady Yang Bathing in the Huaqing Pool
After Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty had taken Yang Yuhuan as his concubine, his love for the remaining three thousand beauties housed in the rear palaces seemed to center on one. He idled his time away with her at feasts and leisure pursuits, and totally neglected government affairs. Emperor Xuanzong often accompanied lady yang on visits to Lishan palace, where each time lady yang would ask to bath at the Huaqing pool there.
Chenxiang Leveling a Mountain to Rescue His Mother
It is a Chinese folktale. The scholar Liu Yanchang went to the capital city to take the imperial examination. Going by way of mountain Hua, he went to worship the third holy mother at a temple. He was so impressed by the beauty and dignity of the statue of the third holy mother that he wrote a poem to express his love for her.
When the third holy mother heard, she stealthily descended to earth and married Liu Yanchang bearing him a son named Chenxiang. The third holy mother’s brother, God Erlang, punished his sister by placing her beneath mountain Hua.
The cries of the baby Chenxiang woke the Thunderbolt God. He carried the baby home and took him as his disciple. Fifteen years later, he handed Chenxiang a magic axe and told him to rescue his mother. Chenxiang defeated his uncle, the God Erlang, and rescued his mother by splitting mountain Hua, and also found his long lost father.
A Shepherd Boy Pointing to the Xinghua Village
Painting based on a poem by Du Mu. Some people on a spring outing on the day of the pure brightness festival were caught in the rain, and were eagerly seeking a tavern for shelter and refreshment. A local boy attending his buffalo pointed out a wine shop deep in an apricot grove.
The Monkey King Subduing White-bone Demon Three Times
It is a story from pilgrimage to the west. The Tang Dynasty Buddhist monk Xuanzang made a pilgrimage to India to obtain Buddhist scriptures and bring them back to china, accompanied by the monkey king, pig, and friar sand.
On the way, the white-bone demon wanted to eat Xuanzang’s flesh, believing that this would enable her to live forever. She made three attempts to do this, changing herself into a beautiful girl the first time, and an old woman the second time and an old man the third time. Each time, the monkey king foiled her.
Goddess of Luoshui River
The Goddess of Luoshui river was the daughter of Fu Xi, the legendary Chinese emperor. She fell into the Luoshui river and drowned, and thus was elevated to goddess. Ancient Chinese literary men of all dynasties sang of her beauty in the most refined and flowery manner. The famous Peking opera actor, Mei Lanfang, once performed the goddess of Luoshui river.
The Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea
The eight immortals were Tieguai Li, Han Zhongli, Lan Caihe, Lǚ Dongbin, Zhang Guolao, Han Xiangzi, He Xiangu and Cao Guojiu. Each of them had a story of how they become immortals. The painting depicts the story of the eight immortals together crossing the eastern sea together by boat.
Lu Zhishen Uprooting a Willow Tree
It is a story from outlaws of the marsh. One day, Lu Zhishen drank with some others under a willow tree, and they were disturbed by the cawing of crows in the tree. The people wanted to remove the house of the crows. Just then, Lu Zhishen yanked the tree right out of the ground.
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