A Hundred Birds and the Three Friends

A Hundred Birds and the Three Friends



Bian Wenjin 邊文進

(Chinese, about 1354-1428)

Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk

Painting: 153.5 x 95.4 cm (60 7/16 x 37 9/16 in.); Overall with knobs: 245 x 110 cm (96 7/16 x 43 5/16 in.)

Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 1980.12



In this hanging scroll birds rest and frolic among pines, bamboo, and flowering plum, plants known as “the three friends.” Due to their endurance in winter, they symbolize perseverance and friendship in adverse times. The naturalistic depiction of the birds refers to the bird-and-flower painting tradition of the Art Academy of the Song dynasty.

The painter Bian Wenjin served at the court of the Ming dynasty Yongle Emperor (reigned 1402–24). This painting may have been hung in a private studio or palace hall on appropriate occasions.

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