CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY China Heritage Project, The Australian National University ISSN 1833-8461
No. 29, March 2012


Asking for Snow Water | China Heritage Quarterly

Wang Shih-shen's 汪士慎 'Asking for Snow Water' 乞水圖
Tributes to a Tea Drinker

Alfreda Murck

The following article by the Beijing-based art historian Alfreda Murck first appeared in the Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University, Vol.37, No.2 (1978), pp.2-30.


A painting by Wang Shih-shen entitled Asking for Snow Water, which is a promised gift to the Princeton University Art Museum, is an artistic, literary, and social monument of a kind unique to China.[1] In a pattern long beloved in the Chinese tradition, it shows the complementary relationships that exist among painting, calligraphy, and poetry. Eleven literati embellished the painting with reflective poems and comments (see guide to inscriptions). The intertwined lives of these men and the evolution of the document make a fascinating story.

Fig.1 Wang Shih-shen, 1686-1759: Asking for Snow Water, 1740. Ink on paper, hanging scroll; 128.2 x 62.8 cm. The Art Museum, Princeton University, anonymous loan (L244.70).

For whom was the painting intended? Who is the figure and what is being carried? What prompted the numerous inscriptions? The story unfolds through the inscriptions. In the first, the artist makes a plea to his friend Chiao Wu-tou for water melted from snow. We learn that it was for Chiao that Wang painted Asking for Snow Water, that the figure is a young servant carrying a crock of water to Wang, and that the mist clouding the thatched house is steam billowing from Wang's tea brazier.

Landscapes are exceedingly rare in Wang Shih-shen's oeuvre of predominantly plum paintings. Moreover, the high quality of this one testifies to Wang's ability as a landscape painter. The composition is apparently simple yet precisely structured: from the hillside at the right one's eye is guided along the path to the figure then on to the confines of the enclosure, the focal point of the painting. This strong movement to the left is countered by a series of black accents moving in measured steps from the lower left to the upper right, paralleling the wattle fence. The tall trees with contrasting foliage provide a stable vertical foil at the intersection of these diagonals. The bamboo, boulders, and trees screen our view of the steamy courtyard, lending it an aura of seclusion. Varied textures are given to the foliage, rolling hills, rocks, and rustic architecture by the artist's use of rich black ink, ranging from moist to dry. The crisply delineated forms stand out against soft billows of steam that roll from the gate and rise from the courtyard. The apparent spontaneity of the drawing gives the painting a lighthearted charm, made possible by Wang's confident command of conventional forms, brush techniques, ink values, and compositional methods, all of which were available to the cultivated Chinese artist of the eighteenth century.

Complementary integration of painting and calligraphy is an important feature of Asking for Snow Water. In the lively, assured brushwork of the painting one can see similarities to Wang's firm calligraphic style: the tree trunks, for instance, are drawn in modulated brushstrokes punctuated with inky blobs suggesting gnarled bark and, at the same time, echoing the formal qualities of the calligraphic line. The form, placement, and content of the inscription below must have been carefully considered during the creation of the painting, for it perfectly balances and enhances the pictorial elements. The lines of calligraphy, which seem to support the scene, form an irregular mass that fits into a space defined by wash and dots. The weight of this calligraphic block set to the lower right balances the preponderance of visual forms rising to the left. Wang painted the scene, inscribed his thirsty message below, then sent the painting off to Chiao, probably unmounted, reserving a generous space above for future inscriptions.

When Wang painted and inscribed Asking for Snow Water in the autumn of 1740, Yangchou was a flourishing economic and cultural center. Its location (see map) in the agriculturally rich Yangtze delta and on the Grand Canal made Yangchou a major center for trade. It was the headquarters for the largest of the salt monopolies, a commodity essential to a rice diet. Government bureaus regulated the salt trade through private merchants designated to supervise production and distribution, bringing these important merchants fabulous wealth. Because they lacked both control over their enterprise and opportunity to reinvest their funds productively, the salt merchant families of Yangchou dissipated their fortunes, often in startling and ostentatious ways.[2]

Fig.2 Map of the Yangchou area in the 18th century

The less imaginative merchants competed in extravagant displays at weddings and funerals, a traditional form of conspicuous consumption, but there were others who innovated. One, wishing to spend ten thousand taels in a single day, cast gold foils from a tower atop Golden Hill from whence they scattered among trees and grasses, never to be recovered. Another craved beauty, not only for the things of his household but for his staff too. And another doted upon ugly people, prompting one applicant to his service to smear his face with soy sauce and sit in the sun to insure his ugliness.[3] Against this vulgar background, some wealthy salt merchants sought social prestige through buying official titles and patronizing art and poetry in a self-consciously refined, yet grand manner. Their generous patronage attracted artists to the city, enhancing Yangchou's traditional commercial life with new cultural vitality.

Of the many painters benefiting from the cultural florescence in Yangchou, some exceptional talents emerged to be called the Eight Eccentrics of Yangchou. Such numbered groupings are popular in Chinese historical writing; in this case the term does not indicate a cohesive school of painters following a common master or homogenous style. Rather, the innumeration is in recognition of the artists' outstanding abilities, innovative styles, and fame beyond Yangchou, the city with which all their careers were associated. The list of Eight Eccentrics varies, but the following painters who figure in our story are usually included: Wang Shih-shen, Chin Nung, Lo P'ing, Cheng Hsieh, and Kao Hsiang.

Wang was born in 1686 in Hsi-hsien, Anwei province. Like so many other aspiring artists and poets of his day, he was drawn to Yangchou by its flourishing economic and cultural life. When he arrived in the city, at about the age of thirty, he lived at the Little Translucent Mountain Cottage [Hsiao-ling lung shan-kuan], which was the guest house of the wealthy salt merchants Ma Yüeh-kuan and Ma Yüeh-lu. Good poets in their own right, the Ma brothers were among the most generous patrons of the arts in Yangchou, augmenting their economic success with social status of the most admired sort: cultural sophistication. The Han River Recitation Society, a poetry club they sponsored, met at the guest house; thus Wang was immediately introduced to a number of the leading artistic and literary figures of the city. How long Wang lived at the Little Translucent Mountain Cottage is not clear, but in 1744 he moved to a recently purchased house at a corner of the Yangchou city wall, the first residence of his own for which there is a record.[4]

Fig.3 Inscription 1: Wang Shih-shen's poem requesting water. Inscribed in October 1740.

There were two great preoccupations in Wang's life: tea and plum blossoms. Tea, which was originally considered a medicinal herb, was taken as a beverage as early as the second century A.D. Its rise in popularity in the T'ang dynasty (618-906) is evident from the surprisingly large number of T'ang treatises on tea and its increasingly frequent mention in poetry. By Wang Shih-shen's day, tea was a long-established part of Chinese society. Plum blossoms served as a subject for Chinese painters from the eleventh century onward. Because plum blossoms appear on seemingly dead trees in late winter, when the ground is still covered with snow, the plum tree came to embody ideals of steadfastness and revitalization. As with landscape, plum blossoms could serve as a point of communion with nature, but unlike relatively immutable landscape forms, the fragility and almost painful transience of the plum served as a poignant symbol of ephemeral life. Endlessly varied in patterns and configurations, plums were cultivated in gardens, sought out in wild mountain reaches, and enjoyed in sunlight, moonlight, and lamplight.

Wang was not extraordinary in his enjoyment of plum blossoms nor in his connoisseurship of tea, but for him these pleasures were raised to a passionate obsession. He freely acknowledged his double addiction in a poem written in 1746, on his sixtieth birthday:

Sixty years to the beginning of the cycle: the ping-yin year again,

For many years I have lived in virtuous poverty;

Leisurely desire for a bowl of tea has become an honest addiction,

For a long while I have considered the plum my great friend.[5]

Although Wang's fame as a painter rests on his more common, freely sketched plum blossom designs,[6] it was his addiction to tea that prompted him to paint Asking for Snow Water. His first inscription, written in eleven lines of varying length below the scene, gently hints that a gift of water would be welcomed (inscription 1):

The year keng-shen, autumn, the ninth month [October 1740], on presenting to Master Wu-tou for his collection a poem called "Snow Water" and a lighthearted picture to make him smile:

A pure and leisurely garden court, a moonlit gate,
Brushing the trees, tea steam resembles ink stains;
If I were to get teeth-chilling water gathered by a mountain household,
My cloud-covered pot would echo all night with its icy soul!

At Blue Fir Studio [Ch'ing-shan shu-wu], casually made by the student Shih-shen.

Chin-jen [oval intaglio seal].[7]

Fig.4 Inscription 2: Wang Shih-shen's poem acknowledging the gift of water. Inscribed on November 4, 1740.

It was a common belief that exceedingly cold water was best for making tea and wine. The water that Wang requested was not only icy cold, but also made from freshly fallen snow and so judged especially pure.

Leaving the top half of the sheet of paper empty was surely Wang's invitation to his friend Chiao Wu-tou to append a comment. Instead, Chiao returned the painting with the gift of water, and shortly thereafter Wang added the six-line acknowledgment at the top, with the characters for west wind [hsi-feng] reaching down as if to buffet the fernlike treetops (inscription 2):

As Master Wu-tou has kindly sent snow water, I have composed another poem in thanks for his elegant gift. Submitted for his criticism, six days after Ch'ung Yang, written at my humble abode:

My good friend to the south with a mind of sensitivity and goodness,
Has bestowed on me Immortals' tea water;
A westerly breeze over the wattle fence, wafting tea steam,
Sitting myself before the bamboo brazier, listening to its music;
Blue fir, white moon, my empty studio is secluded,
A brimming bowl of fragrant brightness, Yang-hsien autumn tea!
I chant through the night in pure tranquility.


Chin-jen Wang Shih-shen [square intaglio seal].[8]

Wang mentions that the poem was submitted after Ch'ung Yang, which means literally double Yang, and is the ninth day of the ninth month. On Ch'ung Yang, people climb to a high spot ostensibly to ward off disaster, but more importantly to enjoy the company of friends in drinking, eating cakes, and reciting poetry.[9] Wang's inscription dates to the fifteenth of the ninth month, the evening of a full moon, which corresponds to November 4, 1740, in the Western calendar.

Without Asking for Snow Water, Chiao Wu-tou (1680s-after 1760) would be little more than a name that occurs sporadically in eighteenth-century poems and diaries. The scroll provides the major biographical document for identifying Chiao's place within the Yangchou circle. Chiao was a native of Tan-tu, in southern Kiangsu province, about twenty-seven kilometers due south of Yangchou. But because he was active in Yangchou cultural life, Chiao may have taken up residence closer to that city. As indicated in Wang's poem, he lived on a mountain somewhere south of the city; perhaps at Mount Chiao, which is the same character as his surname and is situated south of Yangchou on the northern bank of the Yangtze. Chiao's only recorded literary work takes its title from the name of that mountain.[10] Chiao (see detail of Lo P'ing portrait) was known for his filial behavior and led a retiring life. He never earned a degree or held office, but he wrote poetry and seems to have been well educated.

Although his literary works do not survive and despite the paucity of information about him, Chiao Wu-tou was fairly well known within Yangchou painting and poetry circles. In inscription 4, discussed later, Chin Nung refers to Chiao as 'my old friend' and indicates that Chiao and Wang were members of the same society [t'ung-she]. The society may have been a literary group, like the Han River Recitation Society sponsored by the Ma family. Or, given Wang's and Chiao's mutual enthusiasm for tea, it may have been a tea society, like the Chen-hsien River Village Tea Society to which Cheng Hsieh, who wrote inscription 5, belonged.[11] Wang's collected poems contain several references to Chiao, most of them describing outings together to scenic spots, often in the company of the painter Kao Hsiang (1686-ca. 1753).[12]

Fig.5 Lo P'ing, Chinese, 1733-99: Chiao Wu-tou at His Country Cottage. Ink and colors on paper, album leaf mounted as hanging scroll; 38 x 46 cm. The Art Museum, Princeton University, gift of Prof. Wen C. Fong, Class of 1951, and Mrs. Fong (78-43).

The prominent Yangchou painter, calligrapher, and poet Cheng Hsieh also knew the reclusive Chiao. It is through Cheng that Chiao's age can be inferred. On one occasion when Cheng wanted to borrow a robe, he sent Chiao the following letter in which he politely disparages one of his own paintings:

This morning I dispatched a servant to present to you one scroll of ink orchids. I suspect that it has ]already been submitted for inspection. I beg your instruction and criticism. It is, however, only something to be pasted upon the wall, not sufficient to reach the appreciation of lofty men.

Wang Hsi-san's family is holding funeral rites. I am to greet the guests and still need a white-lined outer robe. I entreat you to send over the long-sleeved lined robe that I borrowed last year. I'll return it as soon as I'm finished.

When the snow has cleared, we must plan to have a happy gathering.

Disciple Pan-ch'iao, Cheng Hsieh bowing before elder brother Wu-tou, with affection.[13]

Even making allowance for the polite language conventional to a letter of supplication, Cheng's form of address and signature indicate that he was writing to someone his senior. Being a little older than Cheng Hsieh, who was born in 1693, would make Chiao about the same age as Wang Shih-shen, who was born in 1686.

Chiao's advanced years made his friendship with Lo P'ing (1733-99), another outstanding Yangchou poet-painter, unlikely. Nonetheless, two poems and a painting attest to his friendship with Lo, the youngest of the so-called Eight Yangchou Eccentrics. Upon sending Chiao off on a journey, Lo wrote:

Seeing you off to Ch'u darkens my spirit,
The thousand mile Yangtze, waves like silver;
As always, Mount Ch'u's green fills the eyes,
Who will sympathize that you are a white-haired man?[14]

Given the vagaries of travel in traditional China, a journey often meant a long separation and uncertain reunion. The parting became an occasion to have a last meal together and to exchange poems. This poem, written on such an occasion, expresses Lo's sadness at his friend's departure and concern for the elderly Chiao's safety on his journey.

Lo's second poem to Chiao is inscribed on a portrait that Lo painted of Chiao seated in the small garden of a country cottage. The large album leaf, which is now mounted as a hanging scroll, is a recent gift to the Princeton University Art Museum. Lo's inscription tells of Chiao's leisurely life of reclusion (perhaps somewhat idealized) and alludes to his ability as a poet:

Dreaming, I shift on my pillow and bamboo mat,
Still audible: the lingering resonance of a temple bell;
Suddenly I recall my good friend, the recluse Chiao,
Shutting out the world, sitting amid dew, gazing at the morning glories.

On my pillow I haphazardly completed this [poem] to send to the poetry master Wu-tou, and arising at dawn drew a picture to solicit his instruction.

Lo P'ing.

Liang-feng hua-chi [square intaglio seal].

The naive quality of this drawing suggests that it is a relatively early work by Lo. Indeed, it would have to be since Chiao, who was more than forty years Lo's senior, was clearly still alive at the time.

Fig.6 Inscription 3: Chiao Wu-tou's three poems mourning the loss of Wang Shih-shen. Inscribed from October 9 to November 7, 1760.

In rounding out Chiao's identity, it is interesting to consider his unusual choice of hao [sobriquet].[16] Wu-tou, meaning literally five pecks or five gallons (the tou was a unit measuring both dry and liquid volumes), carries with it two well-known associations that may have appealed to Chiao. They are a prodigious drinking capacity (five gallons of wine) and the onerousness of government service (five pecks of rice, symbolic of a government stipend). Both associations were linked to recluses who disliked political restraints and sought purity and independence.[17]

To summarize, Chiao Wu-tou emerges as an eighteenth-century recluse. He was most likely born in the 1680s. Living close to Yangchou, perhaps at Mount Chiao, he was a friend of Wang Shih-shen, Cheng Hsieh, Lo P'ing, and Kao Hsiang. He was a tea connoisseur, an accomplished poet, and a collector of, at least, the works of his Yangchou friends, for within their intimate circle poems and paintings that would have brought cash from wealthy collectors were freely exchanged.

Wang Shih-shen died in 1759, and it was perhaps then that Chiao had Asking for Snow Water mounted as a hanging scroll. Rather than write or affix seals on the original painting, as was often done, Chiao added wide paper borders around the painting to carry inscriptions. Undoubtedly recalling the conviviality of past Ch'ung Yang festivals, Chiao added a colophon at the lower left (inscription 3), exactly twenty years to the month after Wang's (inscriptions 1 and 2). Chiao's colophon contains three separate poems set off by spaces in the calligraphy. The first poem speaks of the unbearable sadness of losing his noble friend. The second praises the quality of Wang's painting and poems, and acknowledges the difficulty of imitating his elegant style. The third describes what makes life bearable for Chiao after the loss of his close friend: chanting poetry through the night; long sleep (soundest in the spring with the soothing accompaniment of rain); and a good friend, a tea-loving substitute for Wang. Chiao writes:

When I was in humble circumstances, I met one who became both my lasting friend and teacher,
Clasping the frozen snow to his breast, he had the bearing of a wild crane;
Who would have thought his pure spirit would go to the grave?
Clouds and mists have passed my eyes, and yet I cannot bear the thought of it!
The expression of this painting and feeling of the poems deserve immortality,
Before the tea brazier beneath the blue fir
I randomly seek to follow his elegant style—a vain dream!
One crock of spring ice, a blazing fire roars.
Autumn thoughts intoned while the moon sets behind the Fir Studio,
Sounds of rain, sleep passes, it's spring at the grass hut;
Of those who know my heart, there is still Master P'ing-yuan,
He is the substitute who asks for water and brews tea.

Reference is to Kuan Hsi-ning [Chiao's note].

Wu-tou, Chiao Shih-chi, inscribed at my humble hut, the date keng-ch'en, autumn, ninth month [November 1760].

Shih-chi [square intaglio seal].

Wu-tou hsien-sheng [square intaglio seal].

Kuan Hsi-ning, the substitute so precisely identified in Chiao's note, was also a friend of Lo P'ing and Wang Shih-shen.[18] According to Wang's poems, Wang painted pictures for Kuan. They traveled together, enjoyed tea together, and exchanged gifts, including spring water for tea.[19] In 1741 they collaborated with Wu K'an on a butterfly and flower painting: on a rainy summer day Kuan painted the flowers and grasses, Wu the butterflies, and Wang wrote the inscription.[20]

Kuan held a minor official position, but retired due to consumption and pursued his interests in history, painting, and calligraphy. He painted figures in the style of the Sung court painter Ma Ho-chih, and his Odes of Pin scroll was said to be his finest achievement.[21] Like many of his contemporaries—most notably Chin Nung and Cheng Hsieh (inscriptions 4 and 5)—he studied and practiced ancient script styles.

Fig.7 Inscription 4: Chin Nung's colophon about Wang and Chiao's friendship. Inscribed on October 6, 1761.

The next person to inscribe the scroll was Chin Nung (1687-1764), perhaps the most prominent of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangchou. His favorite painting subjects were bamboo, plum blossoms, horses, and Buddhist figures. Despite his large and original oeuvre, Chin was primarily an amateur painter and his accomplishments in painting were overshadowed by his activities as a calligrapher, poet, collector, and bibliophile. After his wife died, he lived alone in Yangchou and became increasingly involved in Buddhism.

Chin's distinctive calligraphy is visually and artistically one of the most outstanding features of the scroll (inscription 4). Following a new scholarly interest in ancient script types, Chin and his contemporaries collected rubbings of early stone and bronze inscriptions, incorporating elements of the ancient designs into their everyday writing. Chin took as his model a style of clerical script like that found on a fourth-century stone stele.[22] With tensely drawn brushstrokes, Chin Nung gave new esthetic expression to stylistic features—slanting entrances, even stroke widths, and right angles—which were largely a result of the original stone medium. To create archaic square and horizontal compositions, instead of the more typical vertical compositions of standard script, Chin elongated the horizontals and shortened the verticals. His characters are densely placed in closely aligned columns so that the solid block of script standing to the right of the painting resembles an epitaph chiseled in stone.

Chiao Wu-tou asked Chin to inscribe Asking for Snow Water one year after his own inscription when again Chiao's thoughts undoubtedly centered on his deceased friend, Wang Shih-shen. Chin's colophon was written on the day of the Ch'ung Yang festival in 1761:

Ch'ao-lin, Mr. Wang, lived at a corner of the Yangchou city wall. He enjoyed tea all day long in the manner of the Master Yü-ch'uan. Amid piles of superior tea, he never feared the discomfort of drinking too much.

A member of the same society, the gentleman Chiao Wu-tou, when winter was severe and snow was deeply piled along the paths, had collected water abundantly from heaven's own spring. Ch'ao-lin therefore composed a seven-character quatrain and made this picture in order to request some [water]. In the picture, he sketched only a ramshackle hut of several rooms, a sparse fence, young bamboo, and old trees. They all embody purity and a harmonious atmosphere. Outside the gate a young servant, following his master's instructions, carries the bottle to be presented. In these circumstances, one can imagine the intimacy between the two old friends.

It was signed in the keng-shen year of the Ch'ien-lung reign [1740]. Shortly after, Ch'ao-lin lost his sight and called himself the Blind Man. Several years later Ch'ao-lin became an immortal. Now thinking back it is already more than twenty years. Wu-tou has thought of his friend constantly. He had the painting mounted into a hanging scroll and asked me to inscribe a record. Ah, we two old men rightly follow our hearts' feelings about life and death. How can we not weep? Wetting the ink (with my tears), I write.

Regrettably I am aging and have many ailments; I haven't had the leisure to compose a poem harmonizing with the rhymes of my two old friends to put beside theirs.

Ch'ien-lung hsin-ssu, ninth month, ninth day [October 6, 1761], for my old friend Wu-tou, inscribing Master Ch'ao-lin's Asking for Water. Recorded by the old man of seventy-five from Yangchou, Chin Nung.

Chin [square intaglio seal].

In his opening sentences Chin emphasizes Wang's passion for tea through allusions to two famous tea drinkers. Master Yu-ch'uan is Lu T'ung, a T'ang dynasty poet and tea connoisseur. Although tea was becoming a popular drink in the T'ang dynasty, it probably still had an exotic quality for Lu. The poem that Chin alludes to is one in which Lu thanks a friend for a gift of new Yüeh-t'uan tea. Lu describes how one bowl leads to another, and another, and on to increasing lightheadedness and exhilaration: after four bowls one forgets life's cares, after five bowls one's flesh and bones feel pure and clean, after six one is communicating with immortals, and with seven one experiences the divine![23] If Chin's first allusion implies limitless enjoyment of fine tea, the second—"the discomfort of drinking too much"—suggests Wang's limitless capacity to imbibe. This association comes from Wang Meng, an official of the Tsin dynasty (265-419), who loved tea and urged it on his guests. Officials obliged to call on him delicately described visits as days of 'liquid discomfort,'[24] a problem foreign to Wang Shih-shen.

Chin turns from Wang's love of tea and the lighthearted description of the scene and servant (see detail of servant in Asking for Snow Water) to more somber reflections. When Wang Shih-shen painted Asking for Snow Water in 1740, he had already lost the use of his left eye. This does not seem to have seriously affected his work, for he remained active as a painter and poet. But in 1752, Wang lost sight in his right eye as well, forcing him to give up painting. It was a grave personal tragedy and yet—as Chin Nung well knew—Wang was capable of putting even this into a cheerful light. In the preface to a collection of his poems, Chin describes Wang visiting him on an early spring day when the snow was a foot deep:

On this day the recluse Wang, Mr. Ch'ao-lin, wearing wooden snow clogs, leaning on a young servant, paid a call. He said, 'In my declining years, I've suddenly lost my sight, but there is no pain or suffering. From now on, I'll never again have to see mediocre, commonplace people. I think this is something to be happy about!'[25]

Wang continues by saying that although he is blind, his heart is sensitive and still appreciative of Chin's poems: 'I'm afraid those who have eyes as large as cartwheels do not necessarily know the marvels of your [poetry].'[26]

After becoming blind, Wang undoubtedly continued to enjoy poetry and tea, and although he ceased painting, he is said to have occasionally written large "wild cursive" calligraphy. But these pursuits could not have compensated for the visual pleasures of a painter's life, and without paintings to please friends and collectors, visitors to Wang's house grew few. Plagued by declining health, Wang's last years were lonely and financially difficult. Chin was a close and supportive friend throughout, caring for Wang when his health was especially frail,[27] and sending poems of encouragement:

As a good friend I am concerned; I have composed poems to help console you; the ancients also had these ailments. It is like a hoary cypress having shriveled branches or a valuable mirror losing its reflection. What difference does that make to their original essence?[28]

Fig.8 Inscription 5: Cheng Hsieh's colophon and poem on the value of the scroll and on the pure characters of Wang Shih-shen and Chiao Wu-tou. Inscribed on October 11, 1761. Page
Fig.9 Details of inscription 5, showing individual characters.

Yet another artist inscribed the Princeton scroll. Cheng Hsieh (1693-1765) is also traditionally classified as one of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangchou. Originally from Hsing-hua, Kiangsu, Cheng was the only artist of the circle to earn the chin-shih degree. After receiving his degree in 1736, he served as magistrate of Wei county in Shantung from 1736 to 1740, after which he retired to Yangchou. Like Wang, Cheng was a master at integrating calligraphy with pictorial images. However, Cheng's unorthodox calligraphic style, which combines elements of clerical, seal, and running scripts, has a strong painterly quality. His inscription on Asking for Snow Water is a superb example of his eccentric writing (inscription 5).[29] Cheng's playful calligraphic style is especially evident when one compares repetitions of the same character. For example, examine his regular, archaic, and cursive renderings of the character for 'gold' (chin), last character in column one, third character in column three, and left half of the last character in column nine (see detail of inscription 5 a-c). Or, compare the two characters for 'can know (k'o-chih), the second and third characters in columns four and six, written in regular and archaic scripts respectively (see d and e). By handling his brush as he would in painting and by exaggerating elements of design, Cheng's bold writing—it is by far the largest on the scroll—takes on a rich pictorial quality.

Contradicting the literati canon by which an artist should neither expect nor seek financial compensation for a work of art, Cheng was an outspoken proponent of artists receiving payment for their work. Unlike scholar-official painters of earlier times, the Yangchou eccentrics had neither private means nor official stipends; they depended on the rich for their livelihoods. Ironically, in his inscription, Cheng emphasizes Wang's and Chiao's great purity of character by frankly appraising the scroll's monetary value:

This painting, this poem, this calligraphy are separately worth a crock of gold. A crock of water is not enough recompense. But the retired scholar Ch'ao-lin did not exchange them for gold: he exchanged them for water. Therefore one can know Ch'ao-lin's pure character. And they were not exchanged for just anyone's water, but for the gentleman Chiao Wu-tou's water. From this one can readily know master Chiao's pure character. The old man Pan-ch'iao composed a poem as follows:

Clasping the crock at the brushwood gate in early morning mists,
The painting, unsullied and distant, could enter the realm of immortals.
Don't say cold things are wholly without use:
Snow juice these days is worth ten thoutsand cash!

Ch'ien-lung hsin-ssu ninth month, fourteenth day [October 11, 1761].

Cheng Pan-ch'iao [square intaglio seal].

Hsieh ho-ch'u chih yu yen [square intaglio seal].

Ko ch'ui ku Yang-chou [rectangular relief seal].

Fig.10 Inscription 6: Yang Fa's poem about a gift of water. Inscribed on January 18, 1762.

About three months after Cheng inscribed the scroll, another inscription was added by Yang Fa (active mid-18th century). Yang was originally from Nanking and was an accomplished calligrapher, painter, and seal carver. In his inscription, Yang notes that both Wang and Chiao were his friends.[30] Yang also befriended Chin Nung, who dedicated three poems to him. In a preface to those poems, Chin declares his unabashed affection for the circumspect Yang Fa:[31]

Yang Hsiao-fu of Nanking is by nature principled and cautious. He excels at strange seal script that has the heritage of an unrestrained Stone Drum style. Upon meeting people he scolds them endlessly. I am exceedingly fond of him!

Recently he came from Nan-yüeh [Heng-shan in Hunan] to live in Yangchou. We met and discussed the world. I have composed some poems to present to him. These moreover are imbibed from the spring of reckless ardor. [Will he] coldly chant them and sarcastically laugh? What about it?[32]

Chin recognizes differences between Fang's cautious character and his own rash and more passionate disposition, and his last line teasingly wonders how Yang will react to the poem.

In his cursive calligraphy—ironically, the most wildly abstract writing on the scroll—Yang records a poem that he composed twelve years earlier (inscription 6). One wonders if the person offering water mentioned in his poem was Chiao Wu-tou. Yang writes:

A guest from a great distance brought me water from three chasms;
Sensing his extremely lofty manner, I accepted the gift with secret happiness in my heart.
I've treasured it for a long time, but don't want it all for myself:
In keng-wu [1750] during this auspicious first month, I respectfully present it to you all;
The thing is small but the principle profound, I'm not ashamed to be honest and straightforward;
With every word you gentlemen attempt a song, leisurely feelings are like that.

The poem recorded here, 'Water from Three Chasms,' I wrote long ago. Now, seeing this picture, I have a feeling of destiny. Both Ch'ao-lin and Wu-tou were my friends. I am haphazardly writing on this scroll to show that he who saw it was one who lost an old friend.

Ch'ien-lung hsin-ssu year, twelfth month, twenty-seventh day [January 18, 1762].

Hsia-fu, Yang Fa remembering.

Ssu-chun [or I-chun (?); square intaglio seal].

Yang Fa [square intaglio seal].

The title of Yang Fa's poem 'Water from Three Chasms' refers to a story about two famous scholar-officials of the eleventh century. Wang An-shih asked Su Tung-po to bring him water from a particular spot in a mountain chasm. Su, seeing no need to go out of his way, drew the water from farther down the gorge and delivered it to Wang An-shih. Wang, upon tasting tea made with the water, immediately recognized its inferiority. He asked about the origin of the water, but Su insisted he had followed instructions. When Wang Anshih minutely described the differing aspects of the waters, Su was forced to admit his deception.[33] It does not matter that the story is a fiction—it surely pleased the eighteenth-century connoisseurs of water and tea who prided themselves on similar sensitivity. Yang's choice of allusion demonstrates once again the pleasure that the educated elite took in seeing themselves within a long historical tradition.

Although the remaining eighteenth-century colophons are undated, they were most likely written in the early 1760s when Chiao Wu-tou circulated the scroll. The poems lead one to believe that these four inscribers knew Wang Shih-shen, and probably Chiao, as well.

Min Hua, a poet from Chiang-tu,[34] probably knew Wang Shih-shen through his friendship with Chin Nung. Chin wrote of their visit to the Little Translucent Mountain Cottage at the invitation of Ma Yüeh-kuan and Ma Yüeh-lu.[35] On another occasion, Min prepared a banquet for the departing Chin.[36] In his poem (inscription 7), Min imagines the interior of Wang's hut, praises the character and poetry of Wang and Chiao, and notes the pain of being a survivor:

By paper windows in a bright bamboo hut
A table spotless without dust;
There is a carefree brewer of tea,
And the man who sent snow on a clear cold day;
Their deep friendship is as pure as the water,
Selective in using their talents, their poems are fresh;
Today I spread out the scroll to look,

Survivor and departed, the same grieving spirit.

Yü-ching, Min Hua inscribed.

Yü-ching [square intaglio seal].

Page     Page     Page
Left: Fig.11 Inscription 7: Min Hua's poem describing Wang's hut and praising Wang and Chiao. Inscribed ca. 1762.

Centre: Fig.12 Inscription 8: Ch'en Liang's poem remembering Wang Shih-shen. Inscribed ca. 1762.

Right: Fig.13 Inscription 9: Wu Chün's poem on missing Wang Shih-shen and on the permanence of friendship. Inscribed ca. 1762.

Ch'en Liang, author of the second undated colophon, was apparently a poet and calligrapher, and another friend of Chin Nung and Wang Shih-shen. In 'Encomium on Ink Stones' (Tung-hsin Chai Yen Ming, preface dated 1733), Chin describes Ch'en's ink stone, which was especially suited for composing irregular verse,[37] and refers to him as student Tui-ou, suggesting that Ch'en may have studied with Chin. Wang wrote two poems to Ch'en, one rejoicing at his return from Tientsin, and the second sending him off on another trip to Tientsin.[38] Ch'en's simple poem (inscription 8) reflects his feelings of loss in Wang's absence:

In asking for water, what's the need to paint a picture?
This refinement is something the ancients were without;
And now, desolate amid shadows of blue fir,
Reading poems on the painting, my eyes fill with tears.

Tui-ou, Ch'en Liang.

Tui-ou [square relief seal].

Ch'en Liang chih yin [square intaglio seal].

The third of the undated eighteenth-century colophons is by Wu Chün. Wu's poetry earned him fame in Yangchou and Wang openly admired his literary ability.[39] Wu and Wang wrote poems harmonizing each other's rhymes, exchanged visits, and enjoyed tea together. Wu's poem (inscription 9) describes missing Wang, but suggests that friendship can survive even permanent separation:

Painting a picture requesting water of the eastern neighbor,
The event is passed, time has flown, yet the scene is still fresh.
I pass again the Fir Hall, the gate and lane have changed,
Where can I now seek for the tea drinker?
Ink subtle, poetry refined-both of the first rank!
With each reading of the scroll-a lifetime of melancholy!
After the old friend died, the sentiment remained profound,
Why should friendship last merely into old age?

Mei-ch'a, Wu Chün inscribed.

Yü Chou [square intaglio seal].

A fourth undated colophon (inscription 10) is signed Chiang Ch'i. Although Chiang Ch'i remains unidentified, the style of his calligraphy suggests a conservative eighteenth-century hand. The roundness of the brush strokes resembles Wang's writing, and the occasional use of an archaic form[40] bespeaks an experimental attitude toward combining script types in the manner of Cheng Hsieh (inscription 5). In a lavish compliment to both Wang's calligraphy and stature, Chiang pairs Wang Shih-shen with the great T'ang dynasty calligrapher Yen Chen-ch'ing (709-85). Eventually, admiration gives way to sentiments of loss and futility:

In the past Yen Chen-ch'ing wrote a letter begging for rice,
Now the one begging for water is Ch'ao-lin.
Style and humor emerge in reading this wonderful painting,
Is it possible that the autumn moss had some special quality?
From the bamboo-covered brazier, smoke in boundless billows,
Amid the moon-lit fir, a night dark and deep;
Facing this scroll I sigh over life and death:
Indifferent echoes in an empty valley.

Chiu-yen, Chiang Ch'i inscribed.

Chiang Ch'i [square intaglio seal].

Chih Shih [square relief seal].

The last four inscriptions were written almost a century later by two scholar officials. The comments of the nineteenth-century inscribers are understandably less personal than those of Wang Shih-shen's contemporaries. By reading the earlier colophons, however, the story comes alive and elicits powerful responses.

Page     Page  Left: Fig. 14 Inscription 10: Chiang Ch'i's poem admiring Wang's artistic talents. Inscribed ca. 1762.

Right: Fig.15 Inscription 11: Wu Ch'ing-p'eng's poem describing Chiao Wu-tou as a meddler. Inscribed about March 20, 1848.

Wu Ch'ing-p'eng (1786-185?) was invited to inscribe the scroll by its mid-nineteenth-century owner, Chang Tzu-ch'iu. Wu earned his chin-shih degree in 1817, and from 1834 to 1841 was a conscientious vice-governor of Shun-t'ien prefecture.[41] After his retirement from official life, he served as director of the An-ting Academy in Yangchou, an academy established exclusively for the training of salt merchants' sons. Through his reading of the scroll, Wu formed strong opinions of the participants. On the vernal equinox, about March 20, 1848, Wu, in the first of his three inscriptions, described Wang Shih-shen as a recluse of the noblest kind, enjoying a clean and simple life. He saw Chiao Wu-tou as a fussbudget, foisting his pretentious overly refined tastes [water from snow] on Wang (inscription 11):

With his hand he painted scrolls of plum blossoms,
In his heart he hoarded poems of ice and snow;
Ch'ao-lin was a lofty hermit,
Drinking water was certainly appropriate for him;
Mr. Chiao who liked to make a fuss,
Insisted on giving a pot of cold water.
Today neither man can be seen,
But here I am, able to peruse this scroll.
It makes me think of the return home [i.e., T'ao Ch'ien],
But don't compare my clumsy words [to his].
From mountain reaches, he returns clasping the crock;
Sitting alone brewing tea,
A cool moon illuminates the bowls and basins,
Wisps of vapor rise from the thatched cottage.
How could such water be so rare?
Such events are also common;
Coarse goods and gauze do not go together,
What was the point of boiling snow?
We only hear [Chiao] laughing at others,
It simply makes himself laughable.

Tao-kuang wu-shen on the vernal equinox [ca. 20 March i 848 ].

Hu an, Wu Ch'ing-p'eng inscribed.

Wu Ch'ing-p'eng yin [irregular square intaglio seal].

In his poem Wu Ch'ing-p'eng mentions "the return home," a reference to T'ao Ch'ien, the famous recluse-poet of the fourth century.[42] Reflecting on Wang's life of seclusion and the figure approaching the gate, Wu was reminded of T'ao's poem "Returning Home," in which T'ao described the pleasures of his quiet and simple existence. With appropriate modesty, Wu notes that his verse cannot stand comparison with T'ao's great work.

After writing his first inscription (it is not clear if it was days or years later as he did not date the later inscriptions), Wu viewed Asking for Snow Water again and discovered that he had been mistaken in implying that the figure in the painting was returning home; instead he was arriving to deliver the water. In mentioning his error (inscription 12), Wu takes the opportunity to reiterate his praise of Wang Shih-shen as a plum painter, and to take note of the artistic importance of the inscriptions (inscription 12).

For a generation Mr. Ch'ao-lin was famous for his plum pictures. His paintings are not easy to see. This Asking for Water Picture is hoary, forceful, and accomplished, filled with lofty elegance. The inscriptions are primarily by Wang's old friends. All are authentic examples of famous calligraphers that are not easy to find!

I don't know how many years the scroll has drifted about. Now it has come to the gentleman Chang Tzu-ch'iu. Tzu-ch'iu's collection has long had two plum paintings by the master; I have inscribed both. Previously he asked me for a poem. Because I admire his lofty style and good taste, I inscribed several words. Then after carefully reading Tung-hsin's [Chin Nung] inscription, I realized I was wrong in assuming that the person clasping the crock in the painting was one sent by Wang and did not understand that he was dispatched by Chiao. Hence my sentence: 'From mountain reaches he returns clasping the crock.' Therefore I also wrote this colophon.

[Signed:] Hu-an inscribed again.
[square relief seal].

Wu Ch'ing-p'eng yin [irregular square intaglio seal].

Having realized that the figure was not Wang Shih-shen's servant but one sent by Chiao, Wu also realized that it was Wang who had initiated the gift. This discovery altered his impression of Chiao Wu-tou. Whereas his first inscription depicted Chiao as a meddler, making a fool of himself by foisting snow water on Wang, his third inscription shows Chiao as a sympathetic friend who understands Wang's passion for tea and fine water. Wu also notes that his comparison of Wang to T'ao Yuan-ming was inappropriate.

Fig.16 Inscription 12: Wu Ch'ing-p'eng correcting error. Inscribed shortly after inscription 11.

This second poem vividly evokes images of Wang, Chiao, and the painted scene. He mentions in the conclusion of his inscription that his own thirst is slaked by opening the scroll (inscription 13):

He wasn't driven by hunger,
But at a hint of thirst he became agitated.
Ch'ao-lin was a water drinker,
Making request of a neighbor was fitting;
Who would serve to introduce him?
A painting and a poem.
It's not quite like T'ao Yuan-ming,
The return home was my clumsy phrase.
Mr. Chiao of course understood the matter,
And so immediately sent a crock of snow.
In life's cool purities,
The two old men deeply understood one another.
Today these men are gone,
But the painting still presents them.
And what more is there
Knowing it is the season of the western wind [autumn].
A servant carrying something to deliver comes
Slowly from the mountain treading on leaves.
Not far from the thatched gate,
Several trees rise above the sparse fence;
Within there is an old hut,
Pillars lean and tilt;
We need not pursue these details:
The scene already conveys the ideas.
As it happens, I am terribly thirsty,
Therefore I follow my impulse and unroll [the scroll ].

My previous poem had errors and was confused with poems on brewing tea; therefore I have changed it.

[Signed:] Hu-an wrote again.

Hu-an [square relief seal].

Wu Ch'ing-p'eng [square intaglio seal].

The last inscription was written by T'ang I-fen (1778-I853). T'ang served as an official in Nanking and practiced painting, calligraphy, poetry, lute, fencing, and wei-ch'i (a board game similar to chess). In I853, when Nanking fell during the T'ai-p'ing rebellion, T'ang committed suicide. His poem, which was written in the winter of I849, opens with two allusions: a line from the T'ang poet Tu Fu (712-70) suggesting a snowy mountain in midwinter,[43] and a phrase likening the poetic outpouring on the scroll to water gushing from Three Chasms, the source of the water desired by Wang An-shih for his tea (inscription 14):

Tu Fu's 'huang-tu not sprouted, [mauntain snow deep]';
The poetic springs overflow like rapids from Three Chasms;
As his true intimate, only an immortal living among men,
For ten thousand ages their hearts strike chords.
Like Lu T'ung's dilapidated study, a place uniquely pure and remote,
Behind shuttered doors he drank water and sang of exhilarating autumn.
The ink still dripping wet, the wonderful story still alive:
A bamboo brazier's smouldering embers, clouds drift and linger.

Tao-kuang chi-yu (1849), mid winter, 72-year-old T'ang I-fen wrote at Pai-men Ch'in-yin-yuan following Mao-chou's water rhyme.

[round relief seal].

Sheng [round relief seal].

The concluding lines of T'ang I-fen's inscription are eminently suited to complete this series of inscriptions. He subtly returns our attention to the painting itself, to the humble, yet pure and elegant studio where Wang Shih-shen sits brewing tea and reciting poetry in the cold, crisp, elegiac autumnal season. Though T'ang viewed the painting over a century after it was executed by Wang Shih-shen, the ink appeared fresh and vibrant, as if still damp. When reading the inscriptions by Wang's friends and later admirers, the 'simple' occasion came wonderfully alive for him, revealing character and personality in both the touch of the various artist's brushes and in their literary compositions.

By collecting the inscriptions, Chiao Wu-tou created a memorial to his friend Wang Shih-shen and increased the artistic importance of the work. By not only preserving the painting, but presenting it to those who truly appreciated its worth, Chiao fulfilled splendidly Ch'ing dynasty ideals of connoisseurship and art appreciation. For the modern scholar this scroll is an important art-historical document, serving as a memorial to Chiao himself, and to his friendship with Wang Shih-shen, Ching Nung, Cheng Hsieh, and other eighteenth-century artists.

Page     Page  Left: Fig.17 Inscription 13: Wu Ch'ing-p'eng's rewritten poem. Inscribed after inscription 12.

Right: Fig.18 Inscription 14: T'ang I-fen's poem reliving story. Inscribed in the winter of 1849.

Clearly, the inscriptions were not added casually. They were thoughtfully composed and intended for the enjoyment of later generations. The serious nature of inscribing is further evidenced by the fact that the mid-nineteenth-century owner, Chang Tzu-ch'iu, and other owners before and after him refrained from writing on the scroll. Their restraint is, indeed, praiseworthy. One should not inscribe unless one has something to contribute to the artistic whole. Ideally, the inscriber relives the story and emotions contained therein and in previous inscriptions, then participates in the creative act through his own contribution. He thus enhances the artistic, literary, and scholarly importance of the scroll, joining in an open-ended, ongoing collaboration.

By these high standards, Wu Ch'ing-p'eng's inscriptions, pedantic and written in rather routine calligraphy, are less successful than those of his eighteenth-century predecessors or those of his contemporary, T'ang I-fen. Wu's efforts demonstrate the challenge presented to the Chinese artist or scholar; his relative failure enhances our appreciation of the other inscribers. Our story concludes with Asking for Snow Water in a new world. It has traveled abroad and now rests in an American museum, an environment unimaginable to the artists who created it. Yet, even within China, the culture and character of men who produced this work has all but passed from the scene, irrevocably transformed. Nevertheless, the painting and the inscriptions retain a unique power to move the informed viewer; as with all important works of art, it is a talisman through which we attempt to revivify the past and thereby enrich the present.


*My sincere thanks to Chiang I-han for aid in transcribing inscriptions, to T'ang Hai-t'ao for help with translation problems, and to Prof. Wen C. Fong, Jeannette Mirsky, and Christian Murck for reading the manuscript and offering many constructive suggestions. I gratefully acknowledge that this article was written while I was a recipient of the Louise M. Hackney Fellowship for the study of Chinese painting.

[1] The painting is published in Shen-chou Ta-kuan, 6 vols. (Shanghai, 1912-14), vol. 6, and mentioned in Osvald Siren, Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles, 7 vols. (London: Lund Humphries, 1956-58), 5, p. 244.

[2] See Ho Ping-ti, "The Salt Merchants of Yangchou: Commercial Capitalism in Eighteenth-Century China," Harvard Journal of Asian Studies, 17 (1954), pp. 130-68.

[3] Ibid., pp. 155-56.

[4] On this occasion, Wang Shih-shen painted Changing My Residence, which was inscribed by Li O, a prominent poet of the city. See Fan-hsieh shan fang-chi, chüan 8 (Kuo hsüeh chi-pen ts'ung-shu edition, Taipei: Commercial Press, 1968), no. 192, p. 166. Wang was further congratulated on his new home in a poem by Chin Nung. See Ku Lin-wen, Yangchou Pa-chia Shih-liao (Shanghai: Jen-min mei-shu, 1962), p. 2.

[5] Wang Shih-shen, Ch'ao-lin-chi, 1833 reprint of original 1744 edition, chüan 5:13a-b; a copy of this rare work is in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Translation is mine, as are all that follow.

[6] Tsuruda Takeyoshi and Yonezawa Yoshiro, Hachidai sanjin Yoshuhachikai, edited by Tanaka Ichimatsu and Yonezawa Yoshiro, Suiboku bijutsu taikei, 11 vols. (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1975), Ü, pl. 87.

[7] Wang, Ch'ao-lin-chi, chüan 3:8a. Unless otherwise indicated, the seals belong to the inscribers whose words are translated. Blue Fir Studio was the name of Wang Shih-shen's library. For a poem addressed to Chin Nung, in which Wang notes that the old fir growing in front of his library has fallen in a wind, see idem, chüan 7:7b–8a.

Dates for inscriptions are given in accordance with the Western calendar.

[8] Ibid., chüan 3:7b.

[9] See Tung Li-ch'en, Annual Customs and Festivals in Peking, translated and annotated by Derk Bodde (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1965), p. 69.

[10] The work, entitled Chin Chiao-shan erh chih and edited by Chiao Wu-tou's son, is no longer extant. Chung-hsiu Yang chou Fuchih of 1810 quotes a Chia-ching era (1521-66) gazetteer which mentions that the mountain took its name from the Chiao family who lived at its foot. Brief biographical information on Chiao is in Li Tou, Yangchou Hua-fang lu (1765; reprint edition, Peking: Chung-hua, 1960), chüan 10, p. 233.

[11] Cheng Hsieh, Cheng Pan-ch'iao chi (Shanghai: Chung-hua, 1965), pp. 5-6.

[12] In addition to the two poems in inscriptions 1 and 2 on the scroll, see Wang, Ch'ao-lin-chi, chüan 2:Ia-b; 2:2b; 2:13a; 3:2a; 3:4a.

[13] For the letter, now in the collection of the Shanghai Municipal Museum, see Cheng, Cheng Pan'ch-iao chi, p. 201.

[14] Lo P'ing, Hsiang-yeh Ts'ao t'ang shih-ts'un (Shanghai: Chü chen fang Sung, 1918), p. 26.

[15] The poem is recorded in Li Chün-chih ed., Ch'ing Hua-chia shih-shih (n.p., 1930), ting, hsia, p. 12b.

[16] Besides the name a person received at birth (ming), it was the practice to take additional names as one matured. The tzu (courtesy name) was given to a young man by a relative or teacher when he reached manhood. This name was thereafter used by others in addressing the person, the given name being used primarily by family and intimates and by the person referring to himself. Hao is a general term for studio names, pen names, sobriquets, pseudonyms, or nicknames taken throughout a person's life as informal titles. They were often occasioned by turning points, such as success in examinations, a new residence, a revelation or enlightenment, retirement, or a personal tragedy. These hao might be chosen by oneself or suggested by another, but they always carried personal significance. It is therefore appropriate and revealing to consider the meaning of Chiao's hao.

[17] The reference to drinking capacity comes from the early T'ang poet Wang Chi (590?-644), who earned the hao 'Mr. Five Gallons' (Wu-tou Hsien-sheng) by reputedly imbibing five gallons of wine without becoming confused. A free spirit who disliked the responsibilities of office, Wang Chi nevertheless held several government posts. One of these was a deputy to an official named Chiao, whose family made excellent wine. When the winemakers died Wang Chi moaned, 'Can heaven no longer supply me with exhilarating drink?' and resigned his post. Thereafter Wang Chi compiled a history of winemaking and continued to enjoy drinking. In the case of Chiao Wu-tou, the five gallons may humorously refer to a quantity of tea rather than alcohol.

The second association of wu-tou—that of onerous government service—was formed by T'ao Ch'ien (365-427), the great poet-philosopher of the Tsin period (265-419). Having taken a government job to provide an income for his impoverished family, T'ao Ch'ien soon felt himself compromised. The incident that prompted T'ao to resign was an inspection tour by a superintendent who was sent by the district office. A clerk explained to T'ao that he had to wear a ceremonial girdle in order to attend an audience with the superintendent. T'ao sighed and said, 'I will not bend my waist for the sake of five pecks [wu-tou] of rice and earnestly attend to the affairs of petty men of the district' (see Chin Shu [Peking: Chung-hua, 1974], chüan 94, p. 2461). T'ao resigned his position, left the county, and wrote 'Returning Home,' his famous rhapsody to humble but noble poverty.

[18] For a poem by Lo to Kuan Hsi-ning, see Lo P'ing, Hsiang-yeh Ts'ao t'ang shih-ts'un, p. 40b.

[19] Wang, Ch'ao-lin-chi, chüan 2:7a; 2:15a; 3:2b; 3:5a; 3:10a; 4:16b; 5:1b; 5:13a.

[20] Kuan Hsi-ning, Wu K'an, and Wang Shih-shen, Butterflies and Flowers, ink and colors on paper, hanging scroll, 121.7 x 43 cm. The Art Museum, Princeton University, anonymous loan (L323.70).

[21] Chen-chün ed., Kuo Ch'ao Shu-jen chi lüeh, 2 vols. (Taipei: Wen-shih-che, 1971), I, p. 4; Li, Ch'ing Hua-chia shih-shih, wu-hsia, 14.

[22] For an excellent discussion of Chin Nung's style within the context of Ch'ing calligraphy, see Shen Fu et al., Traces of the Brush: Studies in Chinese Calligraphy (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1977), pp. 58-60, 135-36, 188-89.

[23] Lu T'ung, 'Tsou pi hsieh Meng Chien-i chi hsin ch'a,' edited by Ts'ao Yin, Ch'üan T'ang shih, 900 chüan in 12 vols. (Peking: Chung-hua, 1960), 6, p. 4379.

[24] Morohashi Tetsuji, Dai Kanwa jiten, 13 vols. (Tokyo, 1955-60), 6, p. 6592.

[25] Chin Nung, Tung-hsin Hsien-sheng chi, preface to San-t'i shih (1752; Li-tai Hua-chia wen chi series, Taipei: Hsüeh sheng, 1960), pp. 181-82.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Tsuruda and Yonezawa, Suiboku bijutsu taikei, vol. I I, p. 60.

[28] Chin, Tung-hsin Hsien-sheng chi, preface to San-t'i-shih, p. 212.

[29] For a discussion of Cheng Hsieh's calligraphy and the integration of calligraphy with painting, see Fu, Traces of the Brush, pp. 180, 189.

[30] For two poems by Wang Shih-shen to Yang Fa, see Wang, Ch'ao-lin-chi, chüan 3:Ia; 6:14a.

[31] Chin, Tung-hsin Hsien-sheng chi, p. 206.

[32] The terms Chin uses to contrast his personality with Yang's are drawn from a passage in the Analects in which Confucius describes two types of disciples: 'The Master said, "Since I cannot get men pursuing the due medium, to whom I might communicate my instructions, I must find the ardent and the cautiously-decided. The ardent will advance and lay hold of truth; the cautiously-decided will keep themselves from what is wrong."' See Analects, Tzu-lu, book 13, section 21, James Legge trans., The Chinese Classics, 7 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1893), I, p. 272. The ardent are impulsive and headstrong but are admired for their intense commitment. The cautiously decided, though slow to act, are praised for the thoughtful consideration that prevents them from making mistakes.

[33] See Hsü chih-ku ch'i kuan, 2 vols. (Hong Kong: Wen Fan shuwu, 1964), 2, pp. 504-5.

[34] See Li, Yangchou Hua-fang lu, p. 91, for brief biographical information.

[35] Chin, Tung-hsin Hsien-sheng chi, p. 127.

[36] Ibid., p. 24.

[37] Ibid., p. 174.

[38] Wang, Ch'ao-lin-chi, chüan 4:5b; 4:9a. 2

[39] Li, Yangchou Hua-fang lu, p. 297, and Wang, Ch'ao-lin-chi, chuian 6:I4b; 7:2a; 7:8a-b.

[40] For example, see the first character yen and the second to the last character ku (inscription 10).

[41] Arthur H. Hummel, Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period: 1644-1912 (Washington, D.C., 1943-44, reprint, Taipei, 1964), p. 869.

[42] See note 17, above.

[43] Tu Fu, 'T'ung-ku Hsien Ko,' Ch'üan T'ang shih (chüan 218), 4, p. 2298.