Bamboo and Rock

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Bamboo and Rock (竹石圖)

Deng Yu (鄧宇, ca.1300-after 1378), Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368)

Hanging scroll, ink on paper, 135.1 x 42.2 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

       Deng Yu, a leading late Yuan literary Daoist, joined the Orthodox Unity sect of Daoism at the age of twelve. By 1360 he had become the abbot of a Daoist temple in Wenzhou, near the Zhejiang coast, and in 1371 he accompanied the 42nd Celestial Master to the Ming capital, where he repeatedly performed miracles of rainmaking.

       Bamboo and Rock, executed according to the precepts of the early Yuan scholar-artist Zhao Mengfu (趙孟頫, 1254–1322), demonstrates Deng's familiarity with the literati aesthetic of calligraphic painting. The bamboo leaves are done in clerical script; the stalks, in seal script; and the rocks, drawn in mixed ink tones, simulate the "flying-white" style of calligraphy. A poem inscribed by Liu Renben, the governor-general of Wenzhou under the rebel leader Fang Guozhen, establishes the date of Deng's painting:

       After fog and rain, in Jiangnan,
       Few friends of integrity remain.
       As autumn fills the shores of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers,
       Clouds paint the bamboo a deep green.


Deng Yu: Bamboo and Rock