Travel on the Silk Road

Yu Ming Chinese

Not on view

Yu Ming was a close friend of Wu Changshi and worked in Shanghai, primarily as a figure painter.

Inscribed simply with the title Travel on the Silk Road, this fan has elements of the story of Lady Wenji (A.D. 2nd–3rd century, as related in the cycle of poems The Eighteen Sons of the Nomad flute). Lady Wenji, the daughter of a Han statesman was abducted and made the wife of a tribal prince of the nomadic Xiongnu. She bore him children and became accustomed to her home on the bleak steppes of Inner Mongolia, far from her people and the civilized Chinese world. When she was finally ransomed she made the agonizing decision to return to her kin and her homeland. The tragic story is frequently retold in poetry and paintings. Ren Yi painted the subject several times, choosing the elements seen in this painting: a camel, the beast of the northern steppes, a vast snowy landscape, and a woman looking out from within a tent.

Travel on the Silk Road, Yu Ming (Chinese, 1884–1935), Folding fan mounted as an album leaf; ink and color on alum paper, China

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