Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Dong Son Birds

Some more Dong Son Birds. #dongson #vietnam

Note that I had to do some edits on the images to emphasize details.
The original bronze artifacts have slightly different colors and tones.






The Dongson culture seems to have be fascinated by birds and other animals.

Next another look at the Ao Co myth and what that may tell us about that culture and its interactions with Ancient China?

Scroll back to the Red Bird of the South post if you missed it ! 

Please note I have not seen the originals as the largest holdings of Dongson artifacts seem to be in French museums I have not visited. 





Saturday, 18 November 2017

Red Bird of the South

#redbirdofthesouth #asianculture #symbols #dongson #vietnam

Tradtional Chiense culture and other neary cultures influenced by China allot the four directions the following as symbols:

White Tiger of the West. Black Warrior/ Turtle of the North, Dragon of the Eastern Sea. Imperial Dragon of the Centre and Red bird of the South.

Now we know White Tigers exist in the wild but are currently rare and endangered but in the past were more common and I'm not going to discuss what the basis of dragons and the other symbols in this post but this year since its the Year of the Rooster I have been running avian theme post series.

I explored the Red Bird and I thought if the White Tiger may be inspired by tigers with (partial) albinism what about the Red Bird?

Now the ancient Dong Son culture of SE Asia used bird symbols and depicted birds.

Images included hornbills and other birds that may be storks cranes or egrets or even peacocks.

Chinese culture has the Red Bird of the south.

Could there be a link?

 We know there was cultural interchange between Southern China, the CHU state, the Yue realms and further south.

Here's a couple of images.


Here's a closeup of a Dongson artifact which I edited to emphasize the bird pattern.

Other Dongson culture bird images.


I think a clue here is not the long bird but the pattern of bars and speckles.

Now take a look at this.


This is Elliotts Pheasant a species who's current habitat is the far south of China and which could have had a far wider habitat area in the past. Its a warm red color has a long barred pattern tail and a crest and jungle fowl peacock and storks are not red.

Could the Red bird of the South been a folk memory of this or some other pheasant species that had a far wider range up toward Central China and down to Vietnam.

Finally consider this: the Vietnamese origin myth of a bird immortal/ goddess Au Lac from the mountains who mated with a (chinese) dragon prince from the sea founding a realm in the river valleys of the north of what is now Vietnam.

Red Bird of the South? Bird Goddess of the past? Folk symbol now.






Saturday, 11 November 2017

Cicadas Harunobu print

#cicadas #harunobu #ukiyo-e



Yes I know the cicada is barely visible perched up on the tree trunk but its a charming "slice of life" print showing us that small boys in the Edo period chased and hunted cicadas. 

In Sydney its usually birds hunting cicadas as fretful modern parents fear children will fall out of trees and children are also encouraged not to hunt and collect as generations of enthusiastic collection have made the treasured Black Prince variety a rarity. 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Cicadas - a Waka

This poem about #cicadas is from a sequence of #waka written by #MinamotoNoAkinaka (1064-1135)

Yamakawa no 
Iwa kosu nami ni 
Uchisoete 
Tani hibiku nari 
Semi no morogoe 

mountain yama river kawa  of no

reef  iwa as jagged peaks of rocks sticking up thru waves nami  in a rapid kosu straining or crossing over ni - locative

uchi intensifier prefix "VERY" little / great soete sou following accompanying running along

tani valley hibiku  echo sound nari verb to be archaic

semi - cicada no - of morogoe compound noun moro together goe voice  voices sounds in unison

My notes I hope show why learning even just a little bungo deepens one's appreciation of waka.

Translated directly one loses most of the assonance  ?

I will try though to give you something not too prosaic !

in a mountain valley
waves break over rapids 
following so closely 
 the valley fills with echos of both 
the chorus of cicadas 

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Cicadas - a Ming dynasty Chinese painting

#xuesusu #cicadas #chinesemingdynasty painting #ming #chinese

So I' m still doing random search combining different parameters and I find this lovely little known masterpiece though perhaps I should say "Mistress" piece. When you finish enjoying this go into Wikipedia and look up Xue SuSu . Painter Archeress Courtesan Nun and More.


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Cicadas - Three A Lesser Known Japanese Print

#cicadas #japanese #print


Unfortunately not much information is available about this print. The creator is unknown.
Its Japanese but the composition and the use of Chinese characters with NO kana suggests to me that maybe some one was looking at a Chinese illustrated book.

Its certainly not a great masterpiece but it has a certain charm and elegance though the artist seems to have done a better job of depicting the cicada than the kingfisher or whatever bird this is?

I also wonder if this is a print from Osaka or Kyoto rather than a Edo publishing house?

Next post I'll show you how a famous Ukiyo-e master depicted a cicada.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Cicadas Two - Lacquer

#zeshin #student #japanese laquer #cicada Number Two in a series of posts about Cicadas.


This Meji era lacquered box is thought to have been made either in Zeshin's workshop or by one of his students but not by the master himself. Note the mixture of textures and the way the gold inlay contributes to the composition. Its painted yet carved yet also molded and exquisite.

Follow me for more posts about cicadas in Asian art.