Yu Jian and his Poetry and Painting in Eight Views of Xiao-Xiang
Around the end of the fourteenth century to the beginning of the fifteenth century, the drawing of “Eight Views of Xiao Xiang” by a monk Yu Jian has circulated to Japan. The original art work consists of eight pieces, now it is only left with “Autumn Moon over Dongting” (Tokyo/Agency for Cultural Affairs), “Mountain Market, Clearing Mist” (Tokyo/Idemitsu Museum of Arts) and “Sails Returning from a Distant Shore” (Nagoya/The Tokugawa Art Museum).
During the late thirteenth century, Yu Jian was quite active back in his hometown Jin Hua. From the poems that Yu Jian exchanged with other scholars, we can estimate that Yu Jian was born in the period between1180-1190 and passed away in the period between 1260-1270.
“Eight Views of Xiao Xiang” is created by artist Song Di (about 1015-1080) in the late Northern Song dynasty and this art work has been of great interest to the researchers. “Xiao Xiang” is a traditional image in the Chan, and in the trend of making “Eight Views of Xiao Xiang” in the Chan context, Yu Jian’s work is between the “Dream Journey Over Xiao Xiang” (Tokyo/National Museum) by Master Li in the Southern Song and the works of Mu Xi.
In the field of Art history, many scholars have studied Yu Jian’s paintings and have had a fruitful research. However, discussions on the poems written on the painting “Eight Views of Xiao Xiang” are rare. This paper will analyze the eight poems written on the “Eight Views of Xiao Xiang”, also using the three pieces of work that are left, we will discuss the aesthetic essence of Yu Jian in his poems, calligraphy and paintings.
Research has shown that: The poems written in the Yu Jian’s “Eight Views of Xiao Xiang” is in the form of seven quatrains, and it combined both narrative and vivid expression of emotions, just like the Chan Ji. However, the poems written by Yu Jian do not follow the normal structure, with an introduction, a climax and an ending. His poems do not have a conclusion and are always in a continuous and changing state. It seems like the poems are saying that it is not easy to practice Buddhism, and there is an inclination towards achieving secular relief.
Yu Jian, Eight Views of Xiao-Xiang painting, Chan, Poems on Paintings