Art/ Collection/ Art Object

明 鄭重 搜山圖 卷
Searching the Mountains for Demons (Soushan)

Zheng Zhong (Chinese, active ca. 1612–48)
late Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Handscroll; ink and color on paper
10 5/8 in. x 27 ft. 9 1/2 in. (27 x 847.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Bequest of Dorothy Graham Bennett, 1991
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 210
Zheng Zhong, a professional painter from Anhui, practiced his art in the cosmopolitan city of Nanjing. Zheng was skilled in the blue-and-green style of landscape and in Buddhist subjects that he could paint in either an intricate or an expressive manner, much like his more famous contemporaries specializing in Buddhist subjects, Wu Bin (act. ca. 1583–1626) and Din Yunpeng (1547–ca. 1621).

Searching the Mountain for Demons illustrates the popular legend of the god Erlang, who was credited with defeating a vicious flood-arousing dragon and other demonic creatures on Mount Guankou in Sichuan. The god represents a metamorphosis of Li Bing, who helped control flooding and established a system of irrigation when he served as governor of Chengdu in the third century B.C., and of a regional hunting deity known for his control over mountain animals. The cult of Erlang became popular in Sichuan under the patronage of the later Shu emperor Meng Chang (r. 934–65). In 965, when the Song dynasty conquered the kingdom, it adopted the cult, erecting temples to the god in the capital and throughout China. The first illustration of Searching the Mountain appeared in the tenth century; today, two Southern Song and six Ming versions—including this one—are known.
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (1 column in clerical script)


Artist's seal



Duanfang 端方 (1861–1911), 3 characters in clerical script, followed by 1 column in semi-cursive script, undated; 1 seal:

端方署。 [印]:讀書中祕


1. Unidentified artist, 3 columns in semi-cursive script, undated:


2. Duanfang 端方 (1861–1911), 20 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1905; 1 seal:

曩見丁野夫畫《搜山圖》,据謂吳道玄本所畫神像與魑魅魍魎之屬,運筆雄勁,賦色古懋,確得道玄神髓。千里是圖不在丁野夫下,鈎勒設色俱從唐人入手,與道玄之《天皇送子圖》可稱儔匹。据宋人以後採用唐人着色者,循不多覯。今觀此圖與莫高窟壁畫幾疑同一手筆,可謂深得唐人真趣者矣。虛齋搜藏甲于天下,得此當可與《天皇送子圖》並傳,斯真人間瑰寶也。乙巳花朝,匋齋端方獲觀于春申江上望鴻樓,並為題識。 [印]:國子先生

Collectors' seals

Shen Shi 沈仕 (1488–1565)


Illegible: 2
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The New Chinese Galleries: An Inaugural Installation," 1997.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Secular and Sacred: Scholars, Deities, and Immortals in Chinese Art," September 10, 2005–January 8, 2006.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of the Ming Dynasty: China's Age of Brilliance," January 23, 2009–September 13, 2009.

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