Author: Xiuyitang Jianshan
As soon as plum blossoms are mentioned, Chinese people may associate plum blossoms with the spirit of being cold and proud of the snow and not afraid of severe cold. It is also true that in the five thousand years of Chinese civilization, history has given plum blossoms a noble mission-carrying the characteristics of "perseverance" in traditional Chinese culture. And plum blossoms do not disgrace their mission. Year after year, no matter the changes in the world or the turning of the sea into mulberry fields, they continue to show the world the characteristics of "perseverance", and are constantly used by literati, inkmen and artists in various arts. The form repeatedly celebrates.
Plum originated in China, and the Chinese have a history of at least 3,000 years of planting plum. In the early days, people seasoned it with plums, which is equivalent to today's vinegar. For example, in the Yin and Shang literature "Book of Books Shuo Ming", there is "If you make peace soup, you only have salt plums". It is proved from the unearthed cultural relics that the love of plum blossoms was prevalent during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period. But at that time plums were mainly used as gifts for food, gifts and sacrifices. In literary and artistic works, vanilla, mainly orchid, is mainly sung at this time.
It was not until the Han, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties that the wind of appreciating and chanting plum blossoms began to flourish. "Plum blossoms began to be known all over the world with flowers" . Although there are not many Yongmei works at this time, people's feelings about Mei have begun to sublimate from material practicality to spiritual level.
During the Sui and Tang Dynasties, the wind of appreciating and appreciating plums became more popular, and the poems about plums were full of excellent works and famous sentences . From the Sui and Tang Dynasties to the Song and Yuan Dynasties, the cultivation of plum blossoms also reached its peak, with continuous improvement of techniques and increasing varieties of plum blossoms. In addition to poems and songs, paintings and music about plum blossoms also stand out . Pine, bamboo, and plum are known as the three friends of the cold season, which comes from the "Wang Yunmei She Ji" written by Lin Jingxi in the Southern Song Dynasty.
From the Ming and Qing dynasties to the period of the Republic of China, the trend of chanting plum blossoms continued unabated, and there were countless plum painters . Huang Fengchi in the Ming Dynasty compiled "Four Spectrums of Plum, Bamboo, Orchid and Chrysanthemum". Since then, plum, orchid, bamboo, and chrysanthemum have been called the "Four Gentlemen", and plum is the head of the four gentlemen. The Chinese in the Qing Dynasty systematically organized and summarized Chinese culture. Later, with the increasing influence of Western culture, new changes appeared in many cultural levels, and the culture was already very complete. The works of Yongmei and Yimei The form is also rich and colorful. It is said that after the Revolution of 1911, the number of poems and paintings written by Yongmei was unprecedented, which cannot be counted.
So far, we have briefly summarized the history of Meihua's personality cultivation. In traditional culture, the plum blossom has symbolized a unique great personality, and its outline has gradually become clear. He has clearly represented the strength of character of the Chinese people. Counting nine cold winters and strong winds, when all the flowers are dying and turning into mud, the plum blossoms are in full bloom in winter, "the colder it is, the more they bloom" , but when a hundred flowers bloom, they don't compete for spring. Perseverance and self-improvement in adversity, not fawning on vulgarity and aloofness in prosperity, this is the portrayal of the personality of a gentleman in the eyes of Chinese people. Regardless of good times or bad times; whether it is a prosperous country and a peaceful people, or wars and disasters. The perseverance of plum blossoms can bring comfort and warmth to people in distress, and bring the spiritual power of a gentleman to strive for self-improvement. Therefore, plum blossom is an out-and-out Chinese flower .
However, if we look at the plum blossom culture in detail, in the historical interpretation, there are so many works or stories of Yongmei that it is impossible to repeat them. But here we can introduce two well-known historical stories and two historical celebrities related to plum blossoms, what kind of true love they have for plum blossoms, and the important role they played in the formation of plum blossoms' character. Finally, through the Chinese painting "Plum Blossom" created by Xiuyitang, I will talk about some understanding of the perseverance of plum blossoms.
(1) Plum Wife and Crane Son
According to statistics, there are more than 4,700 plum blossom-themed literary works in "Quan Song Poems", and more than 1,120 plum blossom poems in "Quan Song Ci". There are many excellent works in Yongmei's poems in Song Dynasty. For example, Wang Anshi's poem "Plum Blossom":
There are several plum branches in the corner, and Ling Han blooms alone.
I know it's not snow, because there is a dark fragrance.
There is also the term "Bu Suanzi Yongmei" written by Lu You in the Southern Song Dynasty:
Beside the broken bridge outside the station, loneliness leaves no owner.
It is already dusk to worry alone, and it is more windy and rainy.
Unintentionally struggling for spring, one term of Qunfang jealous.
Scattered into mud and ground into dust, only the fragrance remains the same.
However, the most popular sentences describing plum blossoms are the two sentences in "Xiaomei in the Mountain Garden" written by Lin Hejing, a reclusive poet in the Northern Song Dynasty:
Sparse shadows and slanting water, clear and shallow water, dark fragrance floating in moon dusk.
These two sentences are known as the eternal swan song of chanting plum blossoms. They write plum blossoms in an extraordinary and refined way, which makes people mouth-watering when read, and successfully depicts the elegant demeanor of plum blossoms.
Lin Hejing, who has never married or been an official all his life, and regards Mei as his "wife" and Crane as his "son", can be said to be a literati who loves Mei to the extreme. He grows plums, appreciates plums, sells plums, raises cranes, and lives a peaceful and self-satisfied, detached life of seclusion. He does not compete with the world and is at ease, just like the Taoist style.
(2) Legend of Feimei
When it comes to the national flower of Japan, everyone should know that it is the cherry blossom. The annual cherry blossom viewing season is the top priority of the Japanese, and even attracts many foreign tourists to participate. However, in the words of Japanese scholar Nishikawa Matsunosuke: "In Japan, although cherry blossoms are the representative of Japan, the wind of enjoying flowers begins with plum appreciation.
Plum blossoms, which originated in China, were brought to Dongying by Japanese envoys sent to Tang Dynasty during the Nara period (710-794 AD), and the custom of plum blossoms also disappeared. Since then, a few shadows have deeply moved the hearts of Japanese scholars. They all began to show their talents by singing plum blossoms and their feelings by appreciating plum blossoms. The popularity of plum blossoms among literati and scholars has made plum blossom culture regarded as the most advanced taste and a symbol of cultural accomplishment. As a result, in the Nara period, when it comes to flowers, it refers to plum blossoms, which became one of the symbols of advanced culture in the prosperous Tang Dynasty.
In the middle of the Heian period (794-1192 AD), there appeared a plum blossom fan who was particularly fond of plum blossoms and forged an indissoluble bond—Sugawara Michizane. Daozhen was born in a scholarly family, and he was good at Chinese poetry when he was young. After his death, he was revered as the "God of Thunder", and because he was an outstanding scholar and poet during his lifetime, he was revered as the "God of Learning". Michizane Sugawara, who successively served as a doctor of articles and right minister, had a scholarly and political career similar to that of Qu Yuan in China. He was also exiled because of slander, and finally died of depression.
Daozhen was relegated to the desolate and remote island of Kyushu to be the commander-in-chief of Dazaifu. When he left the prosperous and prosperous Kyoto and had to say goodbye to the plum blossoms planted in his mansion, he sang a touching waka to his beloved plum blossoms:
When the east wind blows, the world is full of plum fragrance, and if there is no owner, don't forget the coming of spring.  Later, it is said that the plum blossom flew from Kyoto to the mansion of Dazaifu in Kyushu overnight because of missing its owner. This is the "Legend of Feimei" well-known in Dongying.
There is also a legend that: In addition to the plum tree, there are cherry trees and pine trees in the courtyard of Michizane in Kyoto. However, after the master left, the cherry tree was very sad, and finally withered. As for the pine tree, although they flew to Kyushu with the plum tree, they were exhausted when they arrived in Itajuku Town, Kobe City, and could no longer fly. To this day, there is Himatsuten Shrine in the area.
In short, the relationship between Sugawara Michizane and plum trees is particularly deep. There are 3,953 shrines dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, the god of learning in Japan, Tenmangu Shrine, almost without exception, where plum trees are planted. Because the god pattern of Tenmangu uses plum patterns, not only the descendants of the Sugawara family inherited plum patterns, but also many people who believed in the gods in history also used plum patterns as family patterns to pass on from generation to generation. Although the status of plum blossoms has been replaced by cherry blossoms today, they have always been firmly combined with Japan's Tenjin belief culture.
(3) Plum Blossom Perseverance
In the history of plum painting, if we start from the Song Dynasty, the peak period of flower-and-bird painting, the first ancestor of ink plum painting in the Northern Song Dynasty-Shi Zhongren, a monk of Huaguang. Zhongren loves plum blossoms very much. Whenever the flowers bloom, he often sits and lies among them all day long, reciting and enjoying. As a Fangwai painter, he is serious about painting. Before painting, he must burn incense, meditate, and relax before he writes. According to historical records, Zhongren Momei's representative works include "Dark Fragrance", "Sparse Shadows", "Water's Edge", "Xuexue", etc., but none of them have survived, and it is impossible to get a glimpse of her style. No statement, in short, it was famous at the time.
Then there is Yang Buzhi, a direct disciple of Zhong Ren, whose masterpiece "Four Plum Blossoms" is now in the Palace Museum in Beijing. Yang Buzhi rose to fame after going to the south, and his momentum almost overshadowed his predecessor Shi Zhongren. Basically, the ink plum creations of the two masters and apprentices recognized by the painting world represent the highest standards of the Song Dynasty.
Then came the well-known Yuan Dynasty painter Wang Mian. Wang Mian's Momei teacher Yang complements it. The plum is vigorous and thin, with a shape like a dragon, and the momentum is regrettable. Although there is no color, the paper is full of fresh air, just as he wrote in "Poems Inscribed on Paintings of Mo Meitu": "Don't let people praise the good colors, only leave the clear air to fill the universe."
Wang Mian was lonely and arrogant all his life. When his official career was not successful in his early years, he became a recluse, no longer chasing fame and fortune, and made a living by painting. When traveling in Dadu (today's Beijing), Tai Buhua liked Wang Mian's paintings very much, and often sent a few rough rams to ask for paintings, making Wang Mian restless. Later, he had no choice but to enter Tai Buhua's building as a diner. Tai Buhua wanted him to be an official, but he sternly refused. He smiled and said, "Master Shangshu, don't be offended. You are too smart. In a few years, this place will become a place haunted by foxes and rabbits! Why bother to be an official?"
From Wang Mian's deeds, we can see his noble and indifferent character, which also echoes his poetic and painting realm. As it is often said that "paintings are like people" and "poems express aspirations", the spirit embodied in paintings and the aspirations expressed in poems are all related to the author's true heart. If the writer can't feel the heart, it is impossible to give the work a soul, and the viewer will not be moved by the information in the picture. The artist Xiuyitang's work "Plum" that the author will talk about below is also the artist's understanding of the character of plum blossoms through brush and ink in his own realm, and it is also a display of the artist's own inner real world.
From Wang Mian, Yang Buzhi to Shi Zhongren, the painting methods of Momei are in the same line. And this "Plum Blossom" by Xiuyitang follows the tradition in its creation techniques, inheriting the attitude of the predecessors, retaining the traditional pictorial style, and hoping to recover the traditional plum blossom culture that has been gradually ignored by modern people Connotation.
Xiuyitang is also a painter practicing in Buddhism. He often uses paintings to express his heart, and pours the thoughts of singing the beauty of the realm and exhorting goodness into the pen, and communicates with the viewers. These aspects are very similar to Shi Zhongren's idea of "doing Buddhist deeds with brush and ink".
Xiuyitang believes that the greatest tribute to the Creator as a painter is to describe nature objectively and truthfully on the basis of mindfulness, that is, to first achieve the "truth" in artistic techniques. This was the most mainstream painting method in the Song Dynasty, but later, the participation of "literati painting" also led to the emergence of the so-called "freehand painting method", which simplified the original realistic and truth-seeking skills. As a result, Chinese painting has become more and more symbolic, which Xiuyitang believes must be rectified. Therefore, when creating the work "Mei", I tried to fully express the brush and ink photorealistic techniques without losing the charm of traditional Chinese painting, which also brought a realistic visual sense. The composition of the whole work strives to express the exuberant vitality of plum blossoms. The branches and branches compete with each other, with the momentum of piercing the sky, but the flowers are fresh and pleasant. In terms of technical performance, a contrasting sense of rhythm is formed. The background of the work is set off by cool colors, showing the scene of plum blossoms blooming happily in the severe cold, without any hardship.
Why choose to behave like this? It originated from the painter's shallow understanding of Buddhism in his own practice. Realizing that the plum blossoms choose to bloom in the harsh winter, he is like a cultivator who protects the kindness of the world in the midst of suffering. The perseverance of a cultivator is different from that of ordinary people. People in the world often endure passively or are wronged for the sake of gaining fame and wealth, and the tolerance is not sincere and thorough. Those who cultivate in the Dao should let go of all selfish desires and attachments, and take the initiative to endure suffering and temptation. People in the world will hold back their anger and swallow their voices, but a cultivator can not be angry at all, but the more he is tempered, the more he enjoys suffering. What a wonderful and great state this is! Isn't he like a plum blossom in full bloom in the severe cold? It is really "the colder it blooms" . Therefore, the artist created this plum blossom based on this feeling, which is not only the inheritance of the previous ink plum technique, but also the re-excavation and transmission of the "perseverance" spirit of plum blossom.
 "Plum Blossom (March)", Lyrics by Liu Jiachang
 The original text is from "Supplements and Song Collection" : Dongfeng Blow かば匂ひおこせよ Plum blossom main nashitote chun wo forget ru na
 "Theory of Chinese Painting": https://luminancearts.com/blogs/Theory of Chinese Painting / Theory of Chinese Painting - 1 - Freehand brushwork and literati painting