Short Poem Saturday – Profile – Po-jen

Sung Po-jen’s illustrated book of poetry, Guide to Capturing a Plum Blossom, was published in 1238 in China, making it the very earliest example of an art book. This masterpiece would have been lost entirely if not for a single copy of the 1261 edition that survived the Mongol conquests. This copy spent the next 600 years passed and sold privately from artist to scholar to collector until its importance was finally recognized in the late 1800’s. Drawing (ink on paper) and composition by me, translation by Red Pine.


    1. Thanks, Kerfe! I have this one up at my desk – it is definitely one of my recent favorites. I painted the ink wash background first and when it dried, it was so perfect I was reluctant to start on the roosters!

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  1. I like your drawing. I’d actually never heard of Sung Po-jen’s Guide to Capturing a Plum Blossom but I’m very impressed that such an old book has survived into the modern era. I’ll bet it’s a fascinating thing to see. πŸ™‚


    1. Thank you! The surviving original edition (well, technically the second edition) I believe is in the Shanghai Museum – it would be amazing to see one day in person. It was nearly lost so many times!

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      1. I’m very likely to go to China one day, (it’s a country near the top of my list of places I want to visit), so perhaps I’ll be lucky enough to see it for myself. πŸ™‚


  2. Fantastic presentation. Love your drawing, all the detail and so delightful. “Guide to Capturing a Plum Blossom” , the name alone is wonderful, sounds like a must read. Thank you for a great start to Saturday.


    1. Thanks, Haunani! “Guide to Capturing a Plum Blossom” is excellent – Copper Canyon Press re-issued it recently after over a decade of being out of print – I do recommend it. Sung Po-jen refers quite a bit to the Chinese politics of his day, so it is also a crash course in Chinese history!

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