So Ri ketsubetsu 蘇李訣別
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Ch: Su Li Juebie. The farewell of Su Wu (Jp: So Bu 蘇武; c 140-60 BC) and Li Ling (Jp: Ri Ryou 李陵; ?-72 BC). A pictorial theme based on the Chinese story of two friends separated by conflicting loyalties, which became symbolic of friendship and loyalist integrity. Li Ling, a native of Gansu 甘粛 was a general of the Early Han dynasty under the emperor Wudi (Jp: *Kan Butei 漢武帝). However when he was captured by the Barbarian Xiongnu (Jp: Kyoudo 匈奴) he transferred his allegiance and even married a daughter of the Khan 可汗. In the year 100 BC his old friend from Shenxi 陜西, Su Wu, and other envoys were dispatched to bargain with Xiongnu. The others rebelled and entered the service of the Barbarians, but Su refused to join them and was exiled, half starved, to the far north to herd sheep. Li was sent to make a last attempt to persuade Su to renounce his Chinese loyalties, but Su was unswerved and remained in exile until 81 BC when he was allowed to return home. The poignant scene of the final meeting between the two friends has been a theme in Chinese painting since Li Gonglin (Jp: Ri Kourin 李公麟; 1049?-1106). In Japan, Edo period examples are extant, although the story has been known there since at least the 15c when it was made into a *nou 能 play by Zeami 世阿弥 (1363 - 1443). Scenes of Su Wu alone with his sheep are also known.


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