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Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers

Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers

瀟湘八景図巻

1500s

Sesson Shūkei 雪村周継

(Japanese, c. 1492–c. 1577)

Handscroll; ink on paper

Overall: 15.7 x 289.5 cm (6 3/16 x 114 in.)

Gift of Sherman E. Lee in memory of John D. Rockefeller, 3rd 1979.77

Location

Description

Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers can be traced to 11th-century Chinese poems and paintings, the depiction of which had also become popular among Korean and Japanese painters. Xiao-Xiang refers to the region in present-day Hunan province where the Xiao and Xiang rivers converge. Few painters of the Eight Views had in fact seen the scenery; rather, they were trying to portray in ink and wash the lyrical qualities of dim light and a misty atmosphere typical of that region. Each of the poetic titles suggests a time of day, a season, or specific atmospheric conditions—subjects that challenged the abilities of the most talented artists.

In this miniature painting (shukuzu) of the Muromachi period, Japanese Zen monk and painter Shukei Sesson depicted all eight views featured in Chinese prototypes: Wild Geese Descending to Sandbar; Returning Sails Off a Distant Coast; Mountain Market in Clearing Mist; River and Sky in Evening Snow; Autumn Moon over Dongting Lake; Night Rain on the Xiao and Xiang; Evening Bell from Mist-Shrouded Temple; and Fishing Village in Evening Glow.

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