a - right scroll; 136.7 x 32.3cm
a - right scroll; 169.5 x 41.2cm
b - left scroll; 136.7 x 32.3cm
b - left scroll; 169.5 x 41.2cm
‘When flowers can intoxicate, why desire wine?
Just like the pine tree, the chrysanthemum also endures the cold.’
Inscription and signature: Jiang Guodong, alias Yuansou.
Jiang Guodong (style name Yuansou, also known as Yunchen) was a native of Rongxian in Guangxi province. He gained the ‘jinshi’ degree in the year of ‘yiwei’ (1895) which made him very proud, as he carved this piece of information in a seal, which can be seen in this work. He served in various low-ranking posts such as magistrate of Lijiang prefecture in Yunnan. After the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911 he travelled, wandering throughout the Malay Archipelago; he also went to Taiwan several times.
Jiang was known as a poet and calligrapher and had published an anthology of his own poems entitled 'Dongning chouchang ji'. He excelled in regular and running scripts, of which this work is an example. It appears that his writing absorbed the horizontal emphasis of the clerical script to create the unique and bold style seen in this work.
‘The Poetic Mandarin: Chinese Calligraphy from the James Hayes Collection’. pg.113.
© 2005 Art Gallery of New South Wales
The couplet, written on two narrow pieces of paper or silk, and hung either side of a large painting or doorway, is one of the most common forms of calligraphic art and has a long standing history in China. They first appeared in the Five Dynasties period (907-979) as pairs of plaques, carved after written master copies, to decorate architectural columns, courtyards and garden doorways. Couplets for indoor display, written on paper or silk, came into existence in the 17th century and gained great popularity in the Qing dynasty. The couplets themselves are either taken from classical poetry or contemporary literary works composed by the calligraphers themselves and their friends. A couplet is made up of two parts called the head and the tail. The two lines of verse are antithetically parallel. Formerly it was a very common practice to send them to friends or relations on such occasions as marriages and birthdays, or as condolences to families of deceased persons.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, August 2003.
LIU Yang, The poetic mandarin: Chinese calligraphy from the James Hayes collection 2005, Domain, 2005, 112 (illus.), 113. cat.no. 33
The poetic mandarin: Chinese calligraphy from the James Hayes collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Sep 2005–27 Nov 2005