terça-feira, 27 de julho de 2010
Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove
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"The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove were a group of Chinese learned men from the third century CE. During a time of political upheaval, the group distanced themselves from governmental service, choosing instead to spend time engaged in Daoist-inspired discussions, poetry, and music, sometimes while inebriated. At least one member of the group abandoned his government position after becoming disheartened by corruption, and the group as a whole became associated with retreat from public life.
References to the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove are abundant in Chinese and Japanese art and literature. The earliest extant visual representations of the group date to the fifth century CE. Over time the theme gained popularity in Chinese painting and decorative arts, particularly from the late Ming (1368–1644) through the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). In Japan, the motif of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove was known as early as the ninth century. It was widely represented in Japanese art from the sixteenth century to the Edo period (1615–1868).
Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, featuring traditional works of art from China and Japan, has been organized to accompany and provide some cultural context for Asia Society’s exhibition of Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest, the contemporary video work by Chinese artist Yang Fudong.
Who Were the Seven Sages?
Xi Kang (Ji Kang; 223–262) is identified through historical references and tomb inscriptions as a poet and musician, author, and Daoist philosopher and alchemist. His oeuvre includes compositions for a stringed instrument called the qin and writings on music theory, politics, ethics, and longevity. A critic of Confucianism, he is recorded as having challenged many of the social conventions. At a young age he retired from official life and a desire for fame and success, removing himself from the political corruption that he felt he could not endure, and became a proponent of wuwei (inaction). We know he was executed by the military general Zhong Hui, although the circumstances leading to this action remain unclear.
Shan Tao (205–285) was a good friend of Xi Kang. Shan Tao was an official who ultimately reached the rank of Director of Instruction (situ), one of the three highest offices in China. At one point Shan Tao put Xi Kang’s name forward as his successor. This recommendation only alienated the latter and irrevocably damaged their friendship, because the act suggested that Shan Tao did not fully understand Xi Kang’s character and his rejection of governmental service.
Xiang Xiu (228–281) was also a good friend of Xi Kang. He wrote a memoir of Xi Kang, as well as a refutation of Xi Kang’s essay Yangsheng lun (Essay on Nourishing Life). He is also said to have written a commentary on the major third-century BCE Daoist philosophical text the Zhuangzi.
Ruan Ji (210–263), the son of an official, was a member of a famous literary group and a talented writer and poet himself. He held the official position of Infantry Colonel (bubing xiaowei), but has gone down in history as being unrestrained and reckless, perhaps because of his excessive drinking habit. Correspondence also relates that he was an acquaintance of Xi Kang.
Ruan Xian (230–281) held office as Junior Chamberlain (sanji shilang) and Grand Warden (taishou), and is said to have possessed musical skill.
Liu Ling (ca. 221–ca. 300) wrote the poem Ode to the Virtues of Wine. There are a few anecdotes about him published after the fifth century. One of these notes:
On many occasions Liu Ling, under the influence of wine, would be completely free and uninhibited, sometimes taking off his clothes and sitting naked in his room. Once when some persons saw him and chided him for it, Ling retorted, “I take heaven and earth for my pillars and roof, and the rooms of my house for my pants and coat. What are you gentlemen doing in my pants?”
Wang Rong (234–305) remains largely an enigma, though we know that like Shan Tao he held the high ranking post of Director of Instruction."
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