(Chinese, active 1300s)
Hanging scroll, ink on silk
Image: 160 x 58.4 cm (63 x 23 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1971.132
The bird is the Chinese wagtail (motacilla chinensis).
The bird is represented in pale ink, probably sketched in before the darker ink was used to finish the rock. Like the butterfly and moth above, his tail feathers echo the bamboo as well as the leaves and petals of the flowers. The Chinese wagtail can connote brotherly love. The daylily was used for various pharmaceutical purposes, especially for deadening pain in childbirth. It was also considered efficacious in relieving grief and aiding in the production of sons. The lily is in fact the real subject of this painting: it is the common symbol for motherly love. Hence, the lingering of the butterfly over a lily can signify a son's love, devotion, and yearning for his mother—the refuge from worldly woes.
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