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Scenery of the Yellow Mountains (Huangshan)

Xuezhuang Chinese

Not on view

A monk from Huai'an, Jiangsu Province, Xuezhuang spent many years wandering from temple to temple before settling in 1689 in the remote peaks of Mount Huang, in southern Anhui Province. Although he lived in seclusion, his reputation for high-minded eremitism attracted travelers who sought him out to discuss Chan (Zen in Japanese) Buddhism and to admire his music, poetry, and paintings.

This album of highly personal, topographic images, executed in delicate, dry brushwork, emphasizes how natural rock formations often resemble human or animal figures. The paintings are further embellished with poetry and prose notations by the artist, in which he identifies peaks that had either Buddhist or personal associations. Not only were such paintings products of scholarly practice but they could also function as souvenirs for those who made the arduous climb to Mount Huang or as a visual evocation of the mountain for those unable to travel.

Beginning in the late sixteenth century, the area around Mount Huang grew prosperous thanks to the wealth of Anhui merchant networks and to such indigenous products as ink, paper, and woodblockprinted books. As local artists celebrated the scenic wonders of their home region, Mount Huang became a sightseeing destination. By Xuezhuang's time, the mountain's picturesque scenery, hot springs, Buddhist temples, and hostels attracted a steady stream of tourists and pilgrims.

Scenery of the Yellow Mountains (Huangshan), Xuezhuang (Chinese, active ca. 1690–after 1718), Album of five leaves; ink and color on paper, China

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Leaf 1 of 5