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'Literati painting' goes under the hammer

By Han Bingbin  (China Daily)

13:23, May 24, 2013

The Songya Villa, by Ming Dynasty artist Tang Bohu, will be on sale at the Poly Auction's upcoming spring sales. (Photo/China Daily)

For the first time, Poly Auction's upcoming spring sales will pay tribute to the Chinese art scene's time-honored "literati painting".

Literati painting used to refer to artworks created by literati or scholar-bureaucrats, but it now also refers to artworks that convey a "literary mood", often in the form of a longing for nature and seclusion.

The art form originated in the middle of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) and reached its climax in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

Chinese poets found spiritual resonance with nature and often use bamboos and mountains as their subjects. To express their philosophical reflections, they used freehand brushstrokes.

Led by spontaneous inspiration rather than skills, they care more about how their paintings feel than how they look.

Among the rare art pieces is the Mongolia Mountain and Water Map, which experts say was painted between 1524 and 1539. The 30-meter long imperial silk hand scroll is believed to be a fine combination of science and art.

The map marked 211 places from the Ming Dynasty's frontier Jiayuguan pass westward to Mecca of today's Saudi Arabia, with names that were transliterated from nine languages, including Mongolian and Greek.

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