She stood with a fan in her hand, her gaze reaching far beyond the fence.
She filled the museum room with grace and poise – a silent contrast to the visitors, all smart phone at hand rushing by, their short attention span turning stillness into boredom.
I was absorbed by her grace. I never asked myself any questions about what she may have been thinking. There was no need.
I stood there, wishing for her serenity to touch me. And as the visitors withered away, it did. I hope it touches you as well.
“Lady with a fan” by Fei Danxu (China, 1801-1850), ink on paper, hanging scroll, Qing Dynasty – a photo I took at the Shanghai Museum in June 2018.
Inspiration: Chinese New Year and serenity.
“Li Bai chanting poetry” by Laing Kai, China XIIIth c. (Southern Song Dynasty) – via Tokyo National Museum
An ink painting on paper remarkable for its simplicity in technic made with just a few brush strokes; and in the portrayal of Li Bai (701-762), one of the great Chinese poets of the Tang Dynasty, known for his unencumbered use of words and depth of poetry.
The robe seems to blend with the background and a faint shadow suggest that Li Bai is walking during the evening. The painting has no elaborate details and yet we can feel the serenity of both the poet and the setting.
There is one poem by Li Bai that has always moved me and that with time, I have come to understand:
“The birds have vanished down the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and I,
until only the mountain remains.”