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Title

Couplet

Artist

Lu Qiguang

China

1828 – 1898

Alternate image of Couplet by Lu Qiguang
Alternate image of Couplet by Lu Qiguang
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    China
    Period
    Qing dynasty 1644 - 1911 → China
    Media categories
    Scroll , Calligraphy
    Materials used
    pair of hanging scrolls; ink on paper
    Dimensions

    a - right scroll, 133.7 x 32.2 cm, image

    a - right scroll, 173 x 40.1 cm, scroll

    b - left scroll, 133.7 x 32.2 cm, image

    b - left scroll, 173 x 40.1 cm, scroll

    Signature & date

    Signed c.l. part b, in Chinese, inscribed in black ink "... Lu Qiguang".
    Signed l.l. part b, in Chinese, stamped in red ink “Qiguang yinxin [artist's seal]".
    Not dated.

    Credit
    Gift of Dr. James Hayes 2003
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    290.2003.a-b
    Copyright

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Lu Qiguang

    Works in the collection

    1

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  • About

    ‘The luxuriant pine and strong bamboo endure for one thousand years;
    The fanciful phoenix and the crane soar above the highest clouds.’
    Inscription and signature: Written for Jinyuan as he requested. Lu Qiguang.

    In traditional Chinese culture, the pine tree and bamboo along with other plants often form emblems of Confucian virtue – this grouping of exemplary plants endures when all others have succumbed. Their enduring qualities in turn also make them conventional symbols of longevity. Unlike the pine and bamboo whose symbolism derives from their natural quality, the allegory of phoenix and crane comes from their association with myth and religion. Both were considered heavenly birds. While the appearance of a phoenix may mark the beginning of a new era of peaceful and prosperous times, the crane represents the travel vehicle of the celestial being. Combining all these motifs together, the allusion of the couplet goes beyond Confucian moral symbolism to become an evocation of the otherworldly or immortal.

    Lu Qiguang (alias Zhiyou) was a native of Nanfeng in Jiangxi province. He passed the imperial civil service examination in 1868 and was granted the ‘jinshi’ degree. He served in several posts of the imperial government, including magistrate of Jinan prefecture. Lu developed his own brisk and well-knit style by modelling himself on the calligraphy masters of the Jin dynasty. The pleasant and elegant quality of his calligraphy is in tune with the spirit of Dong Qichang and Zhao Mengfu. Accordingly his calligraphy was in high demand, and his house was always filled with requests from friends and admirers for his works. Skilled in running script, he could brush dozens of pieces a day without getting bored (1).

    1 In Tao Sheyuan, 'Zhaodai mingren chidu xiaozhuan xuji'.

    ‘The Poetic Mandarin: Chinese Calligraphy from the James Hayes Collection’. pg.78.
    © 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.

  • Places

    Where the work was made

    China

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication