Monday, November 17, 2014
A Taste of China
When you think of the Far East, what comes to mind?
Their painting style?
Their lovely china?
Do you think of the traditional tea ceremony? Red for luck?
Do you think of tranquil gardens?
Imagine breathing in the calm of a Chinese garden retreat while wearing your own conical hat.
Do you think of thousands of years of Chinese dynasties or their literature?
Picture the heroic Mulan, over 1000 years ago in The Ballad of Mulan, riding home on a swift horse, returning to her relieved family. For twelve years, she had sacrificed a traditional Chinese female life in place of a military life, replacing her aged father and child-brother on the battlefield after they had been “drafted.”
Now imagine a very different lifestyle from that of Mulan’s. Envision an aristocratic lady’s life in 1700s China. A Dream of Red Mansions (also translated as Dream of the Red Chamber) is one of the most famous works of Chinese fiction. These plates are based on the novel as each features a different female character. Above, meet Pao-Chai, the ideal Chinese woman--smart, modest, calm, shapely--who the main character, Baoyu, seems fated to marry; but there’s one problem, the essential passionate spark is absent.
Above right treads the lovely, learned, and distant Miao-yu, whose obsession controls her.
Hsi Chun, the talented young painter, decides to follow a pious life.
Although she is a favorite of the Emporer because of her virtue and intelligence, Yuan-Chun feels trapped inside the confines of the Palace.
Loud. Intelligent. Funny. Lovely and worldly. A Dominator. While usually kind, Hsi-feng has a dark side no one should cross.
Suspected to be semi-autobiographical, A Dream of Red Mansions is said to be one of the finest works of literature the world has ever known, yet, because of the depth of its poetry, it was difficult to translate. Thankfully, Master Artist, Zhao Huimin, has visually represented some of the Beauties of A Dream of Red Mansions and thus, has helped us better understand the world in which they lived.
Truth becomes fiction when the fiction's true;
Real becomes not-real where the unreal's real.
--Beginning of A Dream of Red Mansions