Saturday, 19 August 2017

Liao Dynasty Phoenix HairPin

#Liaodynasty #Liao #phoenix #hairpin #chinesejewellery

Some metalwork for a change. Yes this really was a hairpin.

Most of the examples I've seen were created for the Imperial Family or Aristocrats however I have seen references that they were also used by wealthy families as parts of wedding outfits.

I wonder if they were ever made in bronze or copper or enamel for families who couldn't afford gold?

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sewing for Scholars and Soldiers - Chinese Rank Badges

During the Ming and Qing dynasties the adding of embroidered patches to the jackets or outer robes of scholars, mandarins, aristocrats, courtiers and military officials and officers became a formal system. Imperial Princes and the Highest ranking Aristocrats worn dragons. Lower civil ranks had birds and the Military Animals like Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Bears and Rhinos.

This silver pheasant would have marked its wearer as being of the 5th rank in nine rank system with the highest ranks wearing Cranes and the very lowest Quails or Orioles.

Thee are many articles online about this ranking system and the pricing of antique robes. 
You will also modern replicas used for cushion covers advertised but what I want you to consider is this: the women who did the embroidery.

Chiang Yee in his autobiography describes his father painting embroidery patterns for the women of his household but I wonder how many of these women would have rather had lessons in how to paint for themselves, would have preferred a brush and inks and pigments to a needle and dyed silk threads?

I wonder how many women in military households would have rather been studying martial arts or books of strategy?

These patches and other Chinese embroidery are very beautiful but I wonder how many women did embroidery because it was the only outlet they had.

Thankfully in this century many women get more choice but spare a thought for textile workers be they embroiders, silk spinners and weavers, or garment finishers. Check you're buying those handicrafts from a genuine co-op or a workshop thats signed on to an ethical manufacture agreement.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Birds by Buson.

#buson #painting #japanese #nanga #bunjinga

I've shown you birds by masters of Chinese flower and bird painting and Japanese masters of #ShinHanga  #Rimpa and #Ukiyo-e . For a change here's a Japanese #NANGA or #Bunjinga style work by Yosa Buson also a creator of Haiku.

The monochrome coloring adds to the drama of the paired scrolls featuring two crows and what may be a hawk or an eagle on the right. Note the balance of curves and diagonals rendered by expressive broad brushstrokes. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

SANSUI Closeup and Tonal contrast in Chinese Painting.

Here's a close-up  of one area of a famous Chinese #sansui #landscape.

People wirte about how chinese painting doesn't use tonal contrast or shadows to create depth and yet in works like this contrasting tones of ink near black and lighter grays do create an illusion of depth, of water flowing past and thru dark recesses and cliffs from a higher place downwards into a larger body of water and note how the plainer tones contrast also with the texture strokes in the foreground!

One should also bear in mind the silk this was painted on may have darkened since this is hundreds of years old but the darkening has strengthened the contrast.

Persia and China and a Phoenix

Okay since I was sick double posts to make up for my absence today!

Some of you may already know about the interactions of China and the Islamic world via ceramics.

Sancai and later blue and white ware and polychrome ceramics were developed partly in response to imports from Mesopotamia of lead glazed earthenware polychrome and later  Iznik ware was partly a response to imports of  Chinese blue and white wares.

Another example of how the interaction went both ways is this #Ilkhanid #phoenix #ceramic #tile

The rhythm and layout is very Chinese but note the Islamic influence on the floral ornaments !

No culture exists in isolation.
Is this "cultural appropriation" or interchange and fusion?

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

green tea and evil pollen

Sorry folks I've been sick off and on for the last week with the sort of minor ailments that tempt one to overdo things so one is sick one day and better the next but not fully recovered

stomach bug upsetting my blood sugar levels wattle pollen allergy leading to sinusitis sniffles mild flu or pollen reaction ... generic weird aches and twinges

I'm functioning on green tea and boringly sensible soups brown rice etc since anything much spicier sweeter or stronger makes me sick again

maybe by the weekend I've have the energy and inspiration to make a decent post

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

#cherry #hanzi #kanji #asianlanguages

Despite it being winter in my area a couple of local cherry trees are blooming in my area so

Copyright Julie Vaux 2017
You are welcome to share this for educational purposes
but please include a link back to my blog and a note that this diagram is copyright to me
 since sometime in the future I plan to compile these technozi into a book

Saturday, 22 July 2017


#frost #shuang  #hanzi #kanji #cursive #calligraphy #technozi


For Inspiration Study and Reference

I've posted these images before but that was some time ago ... years probably and frost is on my mind since it certainly is not summer in my area!

something I made with #inkscape and #gimp a few years back!

A scan from a book I own 

Enlarged edited diagrams derived from that scan.

The lower part of the character is xiang and seems to have be picked as the phonetic primarily because it ends in -ang like Shuang unless perhaps whoever created the  character was looking of looking at trees when its frosty or inspecting orchards or timber for frost damage?

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Guess the country of Origin

Can you guess where this was made?

One major clue is the particular shade of blue that the cobalt oxide underpainting fired to?

No its NOT Chinese or Japanese.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Hokusai Chicken print

#ukiyo-e #japaneseprint #hokusai

Un or semi colored rough proofs for japanese woodblock prints rarely survive but somehow this one did and it shows the technical skills of the carver who did the block and the genius of Hokusai.

Note how the varying line widths create tone and depth and texture and the gradients in the reds too!

I find this by accident looking for something else and will now try to find a full color version for comparision!

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Oracle Bone Script

There are many books with the words "50 .... you should know" especially in reference to western art and design. I would love it if I was commissioned to pick and comment on 50 significant Chinese works of art.

So called Oracle Bone Script (the name is modern) objects are the first records of Chinese writing, the ancestors, of Bronze Drum, Bird and Cloud, Small seal, Regular, and other forms of Chinese Kanzi, and hence also of Vietnamese ChuNom, Japanese Kana and Kanji, and Korean Hanja, and the modern simplified forms.

Would you like me to compile some of my posts into such a book? 
I would pick a mixture of Calligraphy, Painting, Architecture, Prints, Ceramics, and Lacquer, and try to pick objects that say something about Chinese culture and its influence on other cultures, Asian and European.

Let me know !

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Xuan Pin means ... er ...

There's a section of the Tao Te Ching that refers to the "Valley Spirit" Gu Shen and that the Valley Spirit also has another name XUAN PIN.

Now XUN PIN has been related as Dark Female Mysterious Female but also as Dark Valley or Deep Valley.

Note the characters used

Xuan dark hidden A sealed Cocoon from which life may emerge

Pin usually translated as Female Animal but some dictionaries online an dprint note that it also means valley. I think either the early scribes used the same character to write a word that sounded the same maybe in two dialects but had a different meaning or the word has changed meaning and I suspect the original meaning was either valley or cleft or er deep opening.

I couldnt find a image of bi in small seal script so drew one in Inkscape and added two even more archaic forms to the image. Note that Bi the right element in the character has changed its orientation over the centuries.

While its suppose to mean soon ladle scoop dagger etc some scholars claim it represents a person turning or moving but look at the oldest forms ! I can see that meaning deep valley so valleys have side branches or can open suddenly into a wider deeper vale.

Also appear in mind the left hand element "cow" actually refers to bovines and other grazers and browsing herd animals hence female. Though I'm thinking possibly a euphemism for an opening female mammals have which would explain the er reluctance of male scholars to discuss why a minority uses valley and the link to valley spirit of dark female or hidden valley or deep vale or ...

er hum er ... yeah ... maybe ... what do you think?

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Ninsei Vase

A break from the diversity theme and a return to Birds

A vessel crafted by a #Japanese #Potter called #Ninsei showing the influence of #bunjinga or "scholar" style Japanese painting. Technical points: this shows what you can do with white slip if you don't have a pure white stone ware or porcelain clay available. I don't know if the black was applied to the slip or is an overglaze but I'm thinking underglaze over white clay slip. I think the way the exposed clay at base enhances the the rocks and foreground of the image. I'm also thinking another influence may be been early ukiyo-e style prints with limited colors. The painting however beautifully fits the curve of the vessel.

Good potters think in terms of form and color?

Sunday, 25 June 2017

A Swarm of Dragons FIVE:More on the North South Divide


Some people would see the dividing line is the Yangtze and others the Huai river.

I would say it runs roughly along the mountains south of the WEI river basin and north and east of the Han river and roughly along the Yangtze wavering over the centuries as cultures emerged in the lakelands north and south of the Yangtze.

PLEASE NOTE that POST HAN and TANG these differences lessen to southwards migration.


Primary Cereal Crops Wheat Millet Beans  (See Book of Songs)

Primary Textile Fibers Hemp and Silk later. Some use of furs. Horse and chariot culture. Seeing outsiders as enemy or barbarians. Limited use of stone and bamboo.

Metalworking Higher Status than Ceramics during Bronze Age up to Han era when ability to fire to Stoneware temperatures and create multicolor glazes raised status of Ceramics.


RICE dominant crop. More use of Bamboo and Lacquer and Fish.
 More open to two way  interaction and trade with NON sinitic cultures in South East Asia such as the "Bronze Drum/ Dongson" groups or tolerating linguistic diversity.

Abiding preference for polychrome in  lacquer ceramics and other media.

Note I could add other factors. These are just some of the major ones.

Next post a break from this sequence and a look at a Taoist mystery.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

A Swarm of Dragons Four MORE CHU

A Swarm of Dragons Four MORE CHU

I mentioned the CHU HAN wars and rebellions briefly last time and how close we may have come to having the first dynasty to unify most of china being called CHU rather than CHIN / QIN.

Here's some innovative CHU culture artifacts in lacquer

Note the rich colors that influenced HAN dynasty art.

But first a reminder of its location amongst the other states and realms.

Yes Black and Red Lacquer appeared in the CHU state before the Han dynasty and it would seem the CHU state lacquer workers developed polychrome lacquer first first!

Finally the first known and surviving silk scroll came from a tomb near a major CHU state city
the famous Lady with a Dragon and Phoenix!

The lasting influence of CHU culture probably strengthened Taoism within Chinese culture against the militarism of the QIN and the restored Confucianism of the HAN.

If you can access a translation of Sima Qian read about the struggles of CHU against Qin and Han.

Chinese culture modern or ancient is not a monolith.

A Final thought artifacts show that the CHU traded south and southwest with the Yue Ba Shu and other cultures. Was that a factor in the sinicization of what became Vietnam?

Sunday, 18 June 2017

A Swarm of Dragons Three CHU !!!

A Swarm of Dragons Three  CHU !!!

The Middle Kingdom is known as China in Western Europe firstly due to the Western State of Qin being as one end of the long overland Silk Road trade route and secondly due to there being various dynasties and smaller states in Northern China called Tsin Qin Chin or Jin and IndoEuropean speakers hearing several sounds they couldnt distinguish as a  "CH".

However "CHINA" was nearly CHU.

Unless you are deeply read on Chinese History you may not known of Chu as a state that for several centuries was a major power among the Sinitic speaking and Sinicized cultures occupying the area that is now China.

Compare the two maps.

The much smaller HAN state was NOT the origin of the name of the HAN dynasty.

Qin conquered Han and Chu and the other states shown but the general who founded the HAN dynasty was ironically from the CHU state but took his earlier title of HAN WANG given by the rulers of Qin and used that for his dynasty name.

Look again at how much terrority CHU controlled at its peak!

WHAT IF CHU had defeated Qin or if the revolts again the "Western" Han's unifications had succeeded and there was a CHU dynasty replacing the HAN with the centres of power being along the Yangtze and not or no longer Luoyang or Changan/Xian and never Beijing?

More on CHU and CHU culture in my next post. 

How Chinese culture might have changed if the South dominated the North?

How would that have effected other nearby cultures in SE Asia?

Whats special about CHU culture! 


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Ming Multitude Bird and flower painting

Back to the Birds. More comments on cultural diversity next post.

The Ming dynasty seems to have produced extra-ordinary excellence in bird and flower paintings with complex compositions and rich detail. Notice that while this painting is called Birds with Peonies the artist has also included willows and plum and the wonderful contrast of black and white smaller birds with the flashy peacocks and one silver pheasant counterbalancing that contrast. Then you have the tail of the upper peacock perched on the rock leading your eye up and down the painting paralleling the tree trunk. A masterpiece of detail color layout and composition.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

A Swarm of Dragons Two The Great North South Divide

Take a careful look at the position of the Yangtze river valley on these three maps.




Note Some People would map two or three sub-divisions of Mandarin.

Observe also the greater linguistic diversity south of the Yangtze.

If this map included NON SinoTibetan or SinoTibetan languages that are NOT Sinitic there would be even more colors!

Now a topographic chart.

Looks to me like Archaic Chinese split off from ProtoTibetan some where in NW China probably the WEi river valley with "Mandarin" spreading first eastwards along the Yellow River and then SW and S later however the lakes hills and mountains of Southern China slowed its expansion enough for some diversity to endure.

This map doesnt include Chu or Yue or reflect the larger size of the major lakes in the past but note that border between WEI and WU and the rivers.

Now scroll back up to the top map.

HAN  culture seems to have spread along rivers rather than roads  and there's a distinct North South Divide that abides throughout the centuries and I will provide more maps to show this.

Saturday, 3 June 2017


#mahamayuri #mayuri #peacock #painting #scroll

While Mayuri appears to have originally been a minor Hindu rain goddess or a symbol or vehicle of Sarasvati some Chinese and Japanese sects of Tantric and Esoteric Buddhism have divinities known as Wisdom Kings and one of them is Mahamayuri.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Gu Shen Valley Spirit

A larger version of this image is now available as a reward from #patreon

Yes it is inspired by Chapter 6 of the Tao Te Ching

"valley spirit not die ...."

While I still have bird art to share I will be doing at least one another post on that chapter so I have some ideas I want to share about the phrase xuan pin

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Mayuri Vina

Something different and #Indian for a change!

#peacock #mayuri #vina sometimes spelt #veena a traditional musical instrument from India.

and here's how a very similar one looks when played!

Note how the legs and foot become the stand and the bird's body the resonator.

A Surprising practical design and also a way to decorate a musical instrument without impairing the function!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Ikutsura WTF? HELP with Bungo Needed!

#rengetsu #waka #translation #bungo

I'm stuck! I have gone over this several times and I can't get it to make sense in Japanese or English.

So here's my notes so far

Maybe some one with a better grasp of bungo can help?

The text I had access to gave the romaji and kana and no kanji except for koe - voice.

Ikutsura ka / Yukue mo mie zu / yuugasumi / ne taku mo kari / koe bakari shi

the first line could be iku+tsura and if so means how many of a group in a nearby area

but if its ikutsu+ ra then groups travelling stretched out in a row

Yukue going traveling in one direction  but mie could mean in triple rows or seeing?
and zu can't be a negative suffix here but seems to be an emotive particle /adverb ?

Yuugasumi is easy evening mists !

ne root wish desire + taku  burning / despite burning because of seeing kari - geese
or is it wish (for) home cause geese  is taku a noun or verb .... with no kanji given ...

koe bakari shi voice only shi for extra emphasis of bakari

I'm really stuck on the possible double readings of the kana !

Ideas anyone

How would you read this Rengetsu waka ?

Particularly Ikutsura and ne followed by taku ?!

Saturday, 20 May 2017



Over several decades I've found every Asian friend and acquaintance on or off line, work mate, etc. has had a "ALL ASIANS LOOK THE SAME TO ME" moment to complain about.

As a person of European descent hence with probably a bit of Neanderthal and who knows what else mixed in and as an artist with an eye for detail it surprises me that so many people including sometimes some other Asians are so blind to visual and vocals or even clothing styles that distinguish one ethnic group from another!

Lets look at some cliches that do have a grain of truth.

Yes China has influenced surrounding cultures.

Yes a lot of Asians do look "chinese".

This is particularly annoying for Vietnamese, even those of Chinese descent whether they speak any form of Chinese, or not.

The first Viets were an Austroasiatic speaking people living literally "Beyond Yueh" the furtherest south Sinicized state, roughly where Guangdong is today. I say Sinicized as there is an ongoing debate as to whether the Yue people were Austrasiatic speakers who sinicized very early.

Genetic surveys show there has been a steady migration southward of Han Asians possibly since the Neolithic or earlier.

These migrants interacted with the Bronze Age cultures of SE Asia and the later Indicized Hindu/Buddhist realms to varying degrees. Now the earliest Viet realm covered the river valleys of  northern Vietnam and slowly south towards and across the Central Highlands and downward to the Mekong delta and areas dominated by the Khmer and Khampa.

The Khmer also spoke a non Sinitic language but their language and culture had a much stronger Indic influence.

The Kham people who were once Hindus but now largely Muslim spoke an Austronesian language.

The Viets however had intensive continuous contact with Southern China and the later Imperial dynasties from the earliest times leading to one of those love hate relationships for which the European parallel might be the attitude of a Hellenized Gaul to a Italian  who were both citizens of the Roman Empire or an educated Scots to an Englishman of Saxon or Norman descent.

Due to this north south genetic gradient ... yes a lot of Vietnamese do tend to be shorter than other Asians and Europeans however this is partly due to diet so do NOT presume a TALLER younger VIET is part French or Russian or Eurasian. They may simply be taller due to having a higher protein diet  especially if they are the children of migrants and have a mixed diet of both Asian and European foods. They may also be fed up with the EXOTIC EURASIAN stereotype!

So how else do Viets differ from Chinese yet are like Chinese?

Yes I'm not Chinese or Viet but I'm basing my observations on years of reading and research and people I have meet.

If you are familiar with Cantonese dialects you may think Vietnamese sometimes sounds like Cantonese. Vietnamese has 6 tones and a lot of loan words form Cantonese. However it also, just as English has a lot of loan words from French and Latin, has loan words from Min dialects, and Literary Chinese.

No it doesn't you say?

Here's a few common SV SinoViet words clearly derived from or corresponding to various words in Sinitic dialects if you know anything at all about historical linguistics and older forms of Chinese.

NGUYEN  spring source YUAN Archaic Chinese had many NG initial words that changed to Y

NHA tooth YA

TR = < CH  Tra Cha Tea   or Tran Chen Dust Truc Chu/Zhu Bamboo

V = W Van = WEN character literature

I can find examples on nearly every page of my copy of Nguyen Dinh Hoas dictionary and other lexicons.

Then there's religion.

Those Viets who are Buddhism, Hoa Viet or Viet,  are Mahayana Buddhists rarely Hinayana and while the statues in temples may look very similar I've noticed Vietnamese Buddhism has a larger social activist element and almost no influence from Tantric Buddhism, less from folk Taoism, and the temples compared to others I've seen, tend to have a rather ROCCO look? Rocco's not the best word perhaps but whether its French influence or a regional variation its there.

I'm open to more info about that since I can't access a lot of the FRENCH reference texts.
I'm largely AngloCelt  despite my name with a few French ancestors way up the family tree and my French fluency is limited to reading with a dictionary and tourist level for speaking.

But  the best thing to do ? Wait for family history to come up in  a conversation?!

If your Viet friend work mate or acquaintance does have recent  Chinese ancestry that is personally significant for them they may mention it but don't tell them that makes them Chinese!

They may be proud of that one or many Chinese ancestors they claim was a political refugee from the Manchus or Mongols or any other Chinese Imperial dynasty but they may be equally proud of the hard working small trader or bureaucrat or farmer who didn't speak a word of Chinese from any dialect!

And for pitys sake please please please if you can't pronounce initial or final nasals or palatal nasals like the NG and NH sounds  at least to make a palatalized sound instead and NOT change every N or NG sound to a N that sounds like a horse neighing.

For my next Swarm of Dragons I may discuss Confucianism or Japan or Ceramics.
Possibly Ceramics since that is a "cultural" marker I know something about and how various countries local pottery production tried to respond and compete with Chinese imports.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


#geese #lacquer #japanese

Grrr I'm stuck on one final word with that Rengetsu translation so here's something else with geese on it to look at while I finish. The grey part is probably a lead inlay.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

An Avian Medley

#asianart #birds  #vietnamese #duck #ceramics #cormorants #chinesepainting #ukiyo-e #utamaro #roosters

A medley of three of my favorite pieces of bird theme art !

Vietnamese Ceramic Bowl Le Dynasty 

A page from an old calendar artist unknown. Early 20th century Chinese?

An Utamaro Design for a Book 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Which Goose?

The #Wildgeese depicted in this picture by #Bianwenjin are #ansercygnoides the so called "swangoose". This species still visits the dwindling wetlands and marshes of China but is extremely rare in Japan.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Wild Geese on Sumida River

#ukiyo-e #wildgeese #sumidariver

Amongst the Edo Ukiyo-e artists there was a proud tradition of promoting local views and landscapes from the Kanto region as being just as important as the Eight Views of Omi or Fuji and views of famous temples faraway.

Here's one example:

Here are geese descending to open fields on the banks of the Sumida river.
It's hard to believe there were ever open fields anywhere in what is now the Tokyo metropolitan area but in the late 18th century and early 19th there still were trees and wetlands and no smog.

The Combination of Geese descending and the River is a reference on a earlier famous print and other paintings and prints on the same theme called Wild Geese Descending at Katata.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Why Wild Geese? The katada print

#wildgeeeseatkatata #katata #katada #ukiyo-e

Why is Wild Geese at Katada one of the Eight Views of Omi?

Katada was also noted for a shrine called the Ukimodo so why Geese in Flight?

Here are two different print son the Wild geese theme.

MMM both views seem to show wetlands in the foreground?

I googled a map of Katada ... Even today there are two streams flowing into a shallow bay and foreground parklands that could be been wetlands and perhaps still are. 
Perhaps visitors to the Ukimodo also came there to view the geese in flight.
I can easily imagine aristocrats familiar with Chinese poetry saying 
"We have geese in flight too!" 

Most of the views of Omi promoted to parallel the famous ones of Chinese paintings have multiple cultural and historical associations, some rather obscure now, and they also tell us how the Japanese environment has changed over the centuries.

Does anyone know if Geese still visit or breed Lake Biwa?

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Nihonga style depiction of a Dove

In keeping with our current #Dove theme a Jjapanese  #Nihonga #painting

Our next theme for the year of the bird may be peacocks or geese.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Terror and Doves

#waka #saigyo #dove

This is SKKS XVII:167 the# ShinKokinshuu

The #Japanese text I saw had kana for every single word but koe.

Here's the #Romaji

Furu hata no / soba no tatsuki ni / iru hato no / tomo yobu koe no /  sugoki  yuugure 

At the side of an old field a dove has landed and lingers in a tree that stands alone calling loudly for his companions at the edge of a terrible night.

old field connective side connective standing tree comes exists remains dove connective companion friend yobu calling summoning loudly connective sugoki seems to be sugoi or sugomu in bungo form wierd terrible spooky odd

Is it edge of a terrible night or the spooky  beginning of night and why is the dove alone?
These are flock birds? A string of linked simple images yet also a mystery!

The use of kana for several words with double meanings adds to the mystery!

Oh that last line sugoki yuugure !

Think about how it would sound recited out aloud not merely read?

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Shen Zhou Dove Painting

#shenzhou #ming #dove #painting #chineseart

For our next YEAR of the BIRD  sequence our avain will be the DOVE starting with this Chinese Painting by Shen Zhou from the Ming Dynasty. He is usually cited in art history texts as a landscape painter but he worked with other themes too!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Another Cockerel for the Year of the Rooster

#yearoftherooster #yearofthe firerooster #shenzhou #chinesepainting #ming.

Here's an image of a rooster by Shen Zhou a Ming Dynasty Chinese Painter also famous for landscapes and calligraphy.

Its a slightly scrawny scruffy bird fluffing its feathers and clearly looking back at the artist. 
Perhaps a favored pet wandered into the part of Shen Zhou's residence where he had his studio pavilion? Its not a pretty bird but definitely one with personality and attitude.

The brush styles used for the feathers complement and contrast with the different types used for the branches and then there's the restrained and careful use of brown coloring to admire too!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Birds at a Shrine

#shiki wrote a #haiku depicting #birds at a #shinto #shrine that can be read two ways

mi+yashiro ya
niwa hi ni tooki
ukine dori

depending on whether you read niwa and hi as one word or two
this reads

 prefix honorable shrine shinto

garden/yard/enclosed space light / fire being at distance tooki is a verb! toku !
floating - sleeping implied birds ukine = sleeping in a ship or floating object or uneasy sleep

Why are the birds sleeping in the shadows so far away from the light?

They should be safe on the grounds of a shrine?

I thought they were simply avoiding being disturbed and that Shiki was creating a word picture of birds barely visible but recently I found niwahi can also mean bonfire so there's a note of anxiety and sympathy ... the birds have perhaps moved as far as they can across a pond away from the noise of humans celebrating some kind of fire ritual?

Poor birds!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Quail in the Grasses

Quail in the Grasses is a popular theme in Japanese probably due to the poem I'm going to post below.

#quail #japaneseart #shunzei #waka

18th - 19th painting by unknown artist from Japan 
This and other images of quail and grass may have been illustrated this famous poem by Shunzei also known as Fujiwara Toshinari  SZSIV259 or SKKS 4.291 also and Miner






Its one of those elegant Heian waka that are both simple yet complex

Evening is passing over
fields vicinity of autumn wind  note fields NOT Moors see my note on Fukasato
nobe is written as no+be with kanji in the text i saw but spoken it could mean stretching
shimite could be shimeru pierced by cold wind feel pain or frozen and chilled
uzura are quail they could be wild or domestic
village of dense deep grass
this is an actual location now a suburb between Kyoto and Fushimi

Its evening a cold wind is moving and the quail are crying perhaps just their roosting call but perhaps some predator is stalking them?

Perhaps this was one of those rare areas where the soil wasnt right for rice paddies but the grasses had been left to grow for cattle and horses ?

The poet isnt in the city or the deep mountains but a semi rural area
Nowhere exotic but he makes the moment special and memorable!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Cockatoo WU

Copyright Julie Vaux 2017

Would you like to see some of my techozi may available as a pdf ebook on Patreon or elsewhere?

Please let me know?

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Swallow Design

Here's a #swallow design based on the #hanzi #kanji for YAN for you to use!

Its a PNG format file with a transperent Bg so you can edit it further or resize it or whatever.

This design will also be offered as an reward on my PATREON site 

One of this months Low Tier  Pledge rewards will also be a Technozi on a Phoenix theme.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Swallow Hanzi Sampler

#hanzi #kanji #swallow #font #sampler

A sampler of how the character for Swallow looks in various font faces and weights.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Hokkei and Swallows

For our next bird the #Swallow

Here's a lovely #Surimono by #Hokkei a student of Hokusai.

Hokkei's drawingis perhaps more "delicate" than his masters possibly due to rimpa influence or studying Hiroshige as well as Hokusai. I like the way the color range has been reduced to bring out the details of the wing feathers!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Zheng Jie A Demanding Eagle!

#zhengjie #eagle #yangzhoueccentric #chinesepainting

Zheng Jie is better known for using bamboos and epidendrums as a theme.

Where he could have seen eagles living in Yangzhou I don't know? It's a lively energetic work.

He worked as a magistrate in Shandong province. Perhaps there?

Retiring to Yangzhou in his later years and being pestered by fans for paintings in exchange for "gifts" he is said to have put this notice on on his front gate along with a list of prices for each scroll size!

"Gifts and foods are not as good as cash, since what you give me might not necessarily be what I like. If you present cold, hard cash, then my heart swells with joy and everything I paint or write is excellent." 

Zheng Jie is regarded as being one of the Yangzhou Eccentrics group.

Some people were "gifting" artists with "tokens of appreciation" by providing rent free housing or rolls of silk or bags of rice or swapping collectibles. One was supposedly to refer to these as gifts.

Being totally honest about how a retired magistrate who painted made money from his art was apparently "eccentric" in 18th China?!