An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Huaji 畫繼

Mar 9, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Huaji 畫繼 "Continued [notes] on paintings" is a book on painting written during the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) by Deng Chun 鄧椿 (fl. 1167), courtesy name Gongshou 公壽, from Shuangliu 雙流 (today in Sichuan). He hailed from a family of state officials with a huge collection of paintings and calligraphy artworks. Being familiar with arts, he decided to "continue" (ji 繼) the works of Zhang Yanyuan 張彥遠 (815-907, Lidai minghua ji 歷代名畫記), and of Guo Ruoxu 郭若虛 (fl. 1071, Tuhua jianwen zhi 圖畫見聞志, and wrote a book of 10 juan on painting in the mid- and late Northern Song.

The book is arranged according to social standing of 119 painters, beginning with members of the imperial house and scholar-officials, then proceeding to Daoist and Buddhist artists, and ending with commoners and females. For each person, a short biography is provided, and their artistic achievements and skills are rated. Fascicles 6-7 explain techniques necessary in the painting of different genres, namely deities, persons, landscapes, flowers and birds, other animals, other plants, buildings and vehicles, and "small scenes" (xiaojing 小景). Juan 8 is dedicated to individual paintings and praises 140 outstanding artworks. The last two chapters discuss methods of painting distant and close objects, and miscellaneous issues.

The book might not be sufficiently detailed, but it preserves much information on Song-period painting not transmitted in other sources. Moreover, it is a well-balanced critique of skilled artists of all social groups. One of the most interesting theories of Deng Chun is that not only personalities possess "spirit" (shen 神) that can be reflected in paintings, but objects and tools had "spirit" as well.

The text is included in the series Jindai mishu 津逮秘書, Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原, Wangshi shuhua yuan 王氏書畫苑, Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Huashi congshu 畫史叢書. Modern editions were published in in 1963 by the Renmin Meishu Chubanshe 人民美術出版社, and in 1985 by the Zhonghua Shuju 中華書局.

The 1963 edition includes Zhuang Su's 莊肅 supplement Huaji buyi 畫繼補遺.

Huaji buyi 畫繼補遺

Zhuang Su 莊肅 (fl. 1298), courtesy name Yougong 幼恭, style Miaotang 蓼塘, hailed from Wujun 吳郡 (today's Suzhou 蘇州, Jiangsu). He was a junior scribe in the Palace Library (mishu xiaoshi 秘書小史) at the very end of the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) and decided to retire after the take-over by the Yuan dynasty 元 (1279-1368). Zhuang was a famous collector of paintings.

His supplement Huaji buyi 畫繼補遺 was finished in 1298 and is divided into two fascicles, the first one providing biographical information and artistic assessments on 84 painters of different social classes, and the second one dedicated to palace painters. Zhuang's book even talks about painters not belonging to the Song-period mainstream or even "outlaws" like Zhao Daheng 趙大亨 or Xiao Zhao 蕭照. On the other hand, Zhuang criticised artists whose works are today rated as very excellent, like Ma Yuan 馬遠 (1160-1225), Xia Gui 夏圭 (c. 1180-c. 1230), Li Song 李嵩 (c. 1190-c. 1230) or Mu Xi 牧溪 (1210?-1270?).

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Yu Guangjie 于廣傑, Su Tao 蘇濤 (2014). "Su Shi wenren jituan yi shi wie hua dui Deng Chun Huaji de yingxiang 蘇軾文人集團“以詩為畫”對鄧椿《畫繼》的影響", Jining Shifan Xueyuan xuebao 集寧師範學院學報, 2014 (1): 4-8.
Zhao Lizhong 趙力忠 (1993). "Huaij 畫繼", in Ru Xin 汝信, ed. Shijie baike zhuzuo cidian 世界百科著作辭典 (Beijing: Zhongguo gongren chubanshe), 357.