Odes of the State of Bin

Ma Hezhi Chinese
Calligraphy attributed to Emperor Gaozong Chinese

Not on view

This handscroll is one of a set that illustrates the 305 poems in the Shijing (The Book of Odes), a work traditionally believed to have been compiled by Confucius (551–479 B.C.). The scrolls were made at the court of Gaozong (r. 1127–62), the first emperor of the Southern Song dynasty, and the transcriptions they bear, probably inscribed by either a scribe or a consort, are written in Gaozong's regular-script style. The accompanying paintings are the work of Ma Hezhi, a court artist known for his "orchid-leaf" brushstroke, a distinctive type of undulating brush line.

The poems illustrated in this scroll are known as the Odes of the State of Bin, for they were believed to have been the songs of Bin (in modern Shensi Province), the ancient homeland of the founders of the Zhou dynasty (ca. 1100–256 B.C.). These odes are the last in the section known as Guofeng ("Airs from the States"), which contains poems gathered from all over the realm so that the Zhou king might learn what his people were thinking and feeling.

Odes of the State of Bin, Ma Hezhi (Chinese, ca. 1130–ca. 1170)  , and Assistants, Handscroll; ink, color, gold and silver on silk, China

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