Friday, 26 February 2016

Year of the Monkey- Monkey Art TWO

#yearofthemonkey #shibata zeshin #monkey #japanese painting


I've posted several times about #ShibataZeshin an 19th century Japanese artist designer who worked in multiple media, lacquer, painting, and print design.

He was trained as a lacquer worker but his teachers noticed his brush skills and encouraged him to study calligraphy and painting.

This is an example of his work on a silk scroll

Note how he creates depth and tone in black and white using quite traditional methods and motifs yet combining techniques and methods from not just the Kano school that dominated art education at the time but other schools too! 

All on a foundation of solid yet subtle brush work with wash and line !

East or West Drawing and Observation is Important! 

Friday, 19 February 2016


#gibbons #habitatloss #China #poetry #tangpoetry

MuQi Gibbons 

Several major #Tang #chinese poets and many other poets major and minor mention the howling of #monkeys however the actual #hanzi Yuan (see prior post)should be translated as gibbon.

This is one of the many reasons #gibbons cry.

I do wonder how many of those writers give serious thought as to why gibbons cry ... probably not from having to hear poets recite verse though that would be a great topic for a cartoon ... irate gibbons shrieking at some poet reciting verse?

Tang poetry suggests Gibbons and other primates had a much wider vaster range of habitats in the Tang period and that they had learnt to avoid human archers nets and other traps by retreating up into high valleys over river gorges or faraway up in the hills.

The first but not the last mention of gibbons in the CHU CI suggests they lived in the WUSHAN range along the Yangtze river and other poets refer to this too.

However Wang Wei twice mentions hearing gibbons or some kind of primate near his estate much further north.

The Tang dynasty poet who perhaps mentions gibbons the most is LI Bai / Li PO. He also mentions seeing or hearing gibbons in areas where they are never seen today!

Li Bai saw or heard them near White Emperor City on the Yangtze, near Huangshan, near Nanking, at Ch'iu P'u in Anhui and other places and refers to them in his Road to Shu poem.

Li HO mentions them being on Wushan amidst flowers and bamboo.

Gao Shi mentions gibbons on Wushan.

Pao Chao refers to Gibbons on LUshan in Sichuan.

Men HaoJen and some other poets mention seeing / hearing them in Chekiang.

I do wonder how many of these poets actually saw gibbons or how many were simply using standard phrases that neatly filled a line to complete a chinese meter?

Do Gibbons howl at being a cliche?

Probably NOT

(and yes I am teasing)

However a more serious issue is that those gibbons were probably howling crying whatever to complain about humans being in their territory?

With good cause.

Google gibbon habitats and china!

Gibbons are now an endangerd species!

In this year of the Monkey I will share more poetry and art featuring gibbons and monkeys from China and Japan but what a pity there seems to be so little mention of the plight of primate species in Modern China?

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Rainbow Love

Its St Valentines Day ! Here's some Rainbow Love for you to share !
#stvalentinesday #rainbowlove #hanzi #sydney

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Tuesday, 9 February 2016


#hanzi #kanji #chinesecharacters #monkey yearofthemonkey

Here is the word for monkey ape and other primates in Modern Chinese.

Copyright Julie Vaux 2016

Have a CLOSE look at the structure of this #hanzi

Dog / animal plus human plus ... okay books that discuss the structure of chinese characters usually repeat the statement that monkeys are being described as noble animals and discuss whether the phonetic means archer prince noble etc

.... however ... I have a suspicion that this is another case of some ancient scribe trying to hide a joke ... consider a certain aspect of monkey behaviour  

Monkeys are know to throw things at humans fruit stones ... other things 

I'm seeing some frustrated "noble archer" or just a farmer with a bow and arrow trying to get monkeys out of his fruit orchard and the monkeys are busily being the animals who take aim at humans and throw things and some later scribe tidying up the reading into something more Confucian and proper.

I also see people translate gibbon as monkey and they shouldnt. 
Thats a different character.

The most common primate species in ancient China seems to have been the rhesus macaque and the gibbon which seems to  have had a much wider range.

Japan only has macaques - saru.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Monkey Year Monkey Art ONE

#chinesepainting #gibbons #yearofthemonkey

Its the Year of the Monkey so  lets look at some art featuring monkeys !

After some considerable searching and scrolling past dozens of copies of Mori Sosen works and weird sumi-e gibbons and monkeys clearly painted by people who need a trip to the zoo urgently ... I found this image.

Horses and gibbons seem an odd juxtaposition. 

Gibbons are creatures of the far south in modern China and while it may be the painter was indulging his imagination given this is a very old work its not impossible the painter might have seen such a scene. 

The habitat for gibbons was very more extensive in the Tang dynasty and there are many poems mentioning gibbons being seen in areas where they are never seen today. 

While Chinese has several words for monkey and gibbon they seem to have NOT distinguished between monkeys and apes with words used to describe species shifting over the centuries. In most Tang poems however its gibbons that are mentioned yuan not hou ...that however is a topic for another post ... 
and there are several more in this series!

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Monday, 1 February 2016


I was surprised at how many differing definitions the dictionaries in my collection gave for this #hanzi #kanji

Copyright Julie Vaux 2016

Basically as an ideogram its something being pressed into a vessel to preserve or ferment