Silk painting imbued with wishes for triumph in imperial examinations

Updated: Jun 12, 2024 www.chinaservicesinfo.com Print
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Part of the butterfly scroll by the Qing Dynasty artist He Shicheng, ink and color on silk, from the collection of the Liaoning Provincial Museum [Photo/Official WeChat account of the Liaoning Provincial Museum]

In Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) paintings, butterflies fluttering among flowers symbolize the Chinese term "tanhua", referring to the scholar who achieved the third place in the highest imperial examination. Meanwhile, in the Chinese language, a butterfly resting on the grass represents "ji di" (approaching the ground), a homophone for "ji di" (succeeding in exams).

One remarkable example is this painting by artist He Shicheng, featuring dozens of colorful butterflies dancing amid lush flowers and grass. Embodying the heartfelt wishes for academic triumph and honorable achievements, the painting is collected by the Liaoning Provincial Museum.

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