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Bamboo in Moonlight

Bamboo in Moonlight

월하묵죽도 (月下墨竹圖)

1500s

Hanging scroll; ink on paper

Painting only: 85.2 x 33.5 cm (33 9/16 x 13 3/16 in.); Overall: 163 x 43.2 cm (64 3/16 x 17 in.)

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1987.186

Description

This painting depicts the full moon shining through a stand of bamboo, and for Joseon literati it would have conveyed the sense of life in harmony with nature to which they aspired. Bamboo is a potent symbol across Asia, and for Confucian societies is thought of as one of the "four gentlemen" along with plum trees, orchids, and chrysanthemums. Each of these plants encompasses an important and desired Confucian trait, and all are often depicted in Korean painting. Bamboo has immense flexibility and is able to bend to extremes without breaking—a much desired attribute for a Confucian scholar. Here, the painter has romanticized the more typical image of bamboo by adding the rising moon.

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