Shiai 四愛
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Ch: Siai. Lit. the four favorites. A painting subject of four beloved flowers and the four Chinese literati who admired them. The flowers and their respective admirers are: the chrysanthemum and Tao Yuanming(Jp: *Tou Enmei 陶淵明 ; 365-427); the lotus and Zhou Maoshu (Jp: *Shuu Moshuku 周茂叔 ; 1017- 73); the plum (or prunus) and Lin Hejing (Jp: *Rin Nasei 林和靖 ; 967-1028), and the wild orchid and Huang Shangu (Jp:*Kou Sankoku 黄山谷 ; 1045-1105). The four flowers and poets were first grouped together by the Yuan dynasty poet and scholar Yuji 虞集(1272-1328) in his poetic preface Siai tiyongxu 四愛題詠序, but there are no extant or recorded illustrations of the theme until the Momoyama period when it appears frequently on fan paintings, for example at Nanzenji 南禅寺. The subject of four favorite flowers is related to other groupings of plants in paintings such as Four Gentlemen *shikunshi 四君子 which features bamboo, plum, orchid and chrysanthemum. The concept of Chinese scholars admiring some element of nature also resembles well-known painting themes such as Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove *Chikurin shichiken 竹林七賢. A reference to Shiaidou 四愛堂, or The Hall of the Four Favorites, is found in *TOUHAKU GASETSU 等伯画説 (Touhaku's Discourse on Paintings; ca. 1592) by Hasegawa Touhaku 長谷川等伯 (1539-1610). Perhaps the finest paintings on the theme are Touhaku's small standing screens zabyou 座屏 at Jukouin 聚光院 in Kyoto, and the Touhaku-attributed sliding screens *fusuma 襖 at Joan 如庵 in Aichi prefecture.


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