Kutsu Gen 屈原
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Ch: Qu Yuan (343?-278 BC). A Chinese scholar-official. The archetypal "sorrowful-poet" and noble exile. Because Qu composed court documents with speed and skill, colleagues slandered him to the king. Later he offered valuable advice on foreign policy, but his sound words earned him banishment to the south of China. One day, while walking along the banks of the Yangzi river (Jp: Yousukou 揚子江), Qu met a fisherman with whom he debated the virtue of living by pure ideals. After the conversation, Qu wrote the poem Embracing the Sands, and then drowned himself in the Milo river (Jp: Bekira 汨羅), near where it runs into Lake Dongting (Jp: Douteiko 洞庭湖). The story, recounted sympathetically by Si Maqian (Jp: Shi Basen 司馬遷, 145-90 BC) in the Shiji (Jp: SHIKI 史記; Historical Records), established Qu as the quintessential pure-minded recluse. Qu was also a poet, famous for his doleful poems, in particular the verse Encountering Sorrow, RISOU 離騒 (Ch: Lisao). He is also associated with the Songs of the South, SOJI 楚辭 (Ch: Chuci). Later poets, who saw Qu as a symbol of moral courage in the face of corruption, wrote verses to him and dropped them into the Milo river at the spot where Qu jumped in. A pair of screens by Hasegawa Touhaku 長谷川等伯 (1539-1610) in the MOA Museum, Shizuoka prefecture, pairing Qu with *Hakui Shukusei 伯夷叔斉, are the best-known Japanese examples. The model for Touhaku's painting, both stylistically and iconographically, is a Ming dynasty painting in Soujiji 総持寺, Kanagawa prefecture.


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