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.