An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Zhuanghuangzhi 裝潢志

Mar 27, 2024 © Ulrich Theobald

Zhuanghuangzhi 裝潢志 is a book on the mounting of paintings and calligraphies on scrolls. The book was written by Zhou Jiazhou 周嘉胄 (1582-c. 1658) from Huaihai 淮海 (today's Yangzhou 揚州,, Jiangsu), who lived in the second half of the 16th century. Zhou also wrote a book on incense and perfumes, Xiangsheng 香乘.

He was a practitioner of artwork mounting himself and travelled around in the lower Yangtze region to gain more insight into the trade. Zhou stresses that a good mounter should have four skills: "hands that mend the sky (bu tian zhi shou 補天之手), eyes that recognise minuscule flaws (guan shi zhi jing 貫虱之睛), a spirit of wisdom and harmony (ling hui xu he 靈慧虛和), and a heart that is as fine as a hair (xin xi ru fa 心細如髮)". The book also advocates the close co-operation between conoisseurs and mounters to consult each other.

The first step was to inspect the "breath and vibrancy" (qise 氣色) of the artworks to be mounted on paper and silk. The text explains briefly the process of washing, uncovering, mending, lining, bordering, inlaying, enclosing, covering, hanging artwork on the wall and taking them down, mounting shafts, mounting rods, glueing the artwork on the base fabric, various stickers, capsules, and how to dye antique silks. The text mentions different materials and tools, and warns to commit certain mistakes. There are also specific requirements concerning paper, silk, glue, wood, and other materials used for mounting scrolls.

Zhou criticises some contemporary craftsmen who for the sake of profit neglect the aspect of quality. The principles and philosophy of mounting paintings and calligraphies as described in the Zhuanghuangzhi are still of great value and are guidance for modern techniques.

The text is found in the series Zhaodai congshu 昭代叢書, Xuehai leibian 學海類編, Shugu congchao 述古叢鈔, Meigang jigu 梅岡集古, Cangxiutang congshu 藏修堂叢書, Cuilangganguan congshu 翠琅玕館叢書, Yishu congshu 藝術叢書, Yuyuan congshu 芋園叢書, Chongshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編, Meishu congshu 美術叢書, Hualun congshu 畫論叢刊, Zhongguo hualun leibian 中國畫論類編 and Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書.

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蜀漢 (221-263)