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Chinese Literature
Xuanhe huapu 宣和畫譜 "Notes on Painting from the Xuanhe Reign"

The Xuanhe huapu 宣和畫譜 "Notes on painting from the Xuanhe reign" is a treatise on painting written during the Xuanhe reign (1119-1125) of Emperor Huizong 宋徽宗 of the Song dynasty 宋 (960-1279). The book whose author is not known, describes 6,396 paintings by 230 masters owned by the palace treasury (neifu 內府). The oldest paintings dated from the Wei 曹魏 (220-265) and Jin 晉 (265-420) periods. The 20 juan "scrolls" long book is divided into 10 chapters covering ten different painting genres or objects. The book Yunlu manchao 雲麓漫鈔 by Zhao Yanwei 趙彥衛 speaks of only six chapters, namely those of Buddhist and Daoist persons, portraits, landscape painting, birds and beasts, bamboo and flowers, and buildings and trees. All chapters are introduced by a short preface, and the paintings are arranged chronologically and rated according to artistic quality. For each master, a short biography is provided and an assessment of his strengths. The book tries to cover all aspects of painting and the various masters through the ages and is therefore in many places contradictory and confuse, like, for instance, statements about Wang Kentang 王肯堂 (Wang Shiyuan 王士元) who is said to have learned from the teachers of many different genres, and in another chapters criticizes him as an irrelevant person. For this reason the Xuanhe huapu can only partially be used as a valuable source for the history of painters and their qualities, but at least it is an important list of paintings owned by the palace treasury. A list and description of calligraphies in the imperial palace collection is included in the book Xuanhe shupu 宣和書譜.
The Xuanhe huapu is included in the reprint series Jindai mishu 津逮秘書, Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原, Tang-Song congshu 唐宋叢書, Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 1802. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.

1 道釋門 Daoshi Daoist and Buddhist persons
2 人物門 Renwu Portraits
3 宮室門 Gongshi Palaces
4 番族門 Fanzu Barbarians
5 龍魚門 Longyu Dragons and fish
6 山水門 Shanshui Landscapes
7 鳥獸門 Niaoshou Birds and beasts
8 花木門 Huamu Flowers and trees
9 墨竹門 Mozhu Painting bamboo
10 蔬果門 Shuguo Vegetables and fruits
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

September 3, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail