Bamboo in the Wind

Yi Jeong (artist name: Taneun) Korean

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 233

A great-great-grandson of King Sejong (r. 1418–50), whose reign saw a cultural flowering and the invention of hangeul (the Korean alphabet), the prominent literati artist Yi Jeong gained renown for his poetry, calligraphy, and ink paintings. His calligraphic brushwork showcases intricate techniques, seen here in the nuanced shifts and precise strokes that form the leaves’ tapered tips and bent edges. The layered bamboo in skillfully contrasted dark and light ink tones creates a sense of spatial depth. Representing Confucian and Daoist values of integrity and nobility, bamboo was cherished by East Asian scholar-painters for centuries. Bending but not breaking in the wind, bamboo embodies resilience and fortitude, traits referenced in the inscription:

Aged bamboo has grown unevenly
Branches lift together in the breeze,
Desolate and sparse, seeking to stir people,
Lingering response found nowhere else.
—Translation by Tim Zhang

Bamboo in the Wind, Yi Jeong (artist name: Taneun) (Korean, 1541–1626), Hanging scroll; ink on silk with gold on colophon, Korea

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