Far East from West



Tang Yin – Seeing Off a Guest on a Mountain Path (1505-1510)

Chinese painting, as with many aspects of Chinese culture, is centered around tradition. During the Ming Dynasty, Chinese painting took on more individualistic impressions.  Considered one the of the four greats of the era, Tang Yin is celebrated not only as painter but also a poet and calligrapher.  Indeed one of the most noticeable aspects of the Chinese painting style is the use of calligraphy (often a poem) and similar brush work in the actual painting.  The painting style of the Ming Dynasty more closely tied painting and calligraphy together.  What makes this painting significant is that until recently it was thought to be by another artist from five hundred years earlier.  The poem was instructive to scholars recently in attributing the work to Tang Yin.  As a poet, his style was distinctive and obviously played a big role in the determination of authorship.

What attracted me to this painting is the way in which it exemplifies many aspects attributed to Chinese painting.  The most obvious differences are the use of ideograms (calligraphy) as a poetic device to accompany the scene.  Another obvious difference is the vertical orientation and many paintings were in scroll form painted on silk.  The bigger and less obvious differences are the often dwarfed human presence against the landscape and a landscape of infinity diminishing background.  Both employed here, these techniques give the impression of an overwhelming massiveness to the world.   Chinese and many Asian cultures focus less on the individual but rather on the oneness of the universe.  A similar sentiment might be found in landscape painting which turned away from religious empowerment of humanity over nature.  In this painting, there is a small figure traveling on a road within a world much larger.  The diminishing background, where further objects blend into nothingness, add to this ominousness.  While this particular example is somewhat devoid of color, that may simply be a by-product of age.  Many western art pieces have been restored to display vibrant color.  Like statues of ancient Rome and Greece, there may be no way to know what the original color was if any.

Reference:  http://etcweb.princeton.edu/asianart/selectionsdetail.jsp?ctry=China&pd=&id=1035566



  1. Great choice, I have always had an interest on Chinese art, though I honestly had no idea it was based on tradition, it makes a lot of sense now. I really like the piece you chose as well, calligraphy art is very hard to achieve, it surely takes talent and dedication, speaking from experience. The shading is this picture is unbelievable, just think this was achieve with ink! That’s is interesting that this was done on silk, I would have never thought to create any art on silk, wondering if it has something to do with use of calligraphy..

  2. That really looks old! I feel like it might turn just to dust by me looking at it.
    I like that you explained how the Chinese culture plays into the picture. Do you know where the piece is held now?

  3. I enjoyed the connection with Chinese culture and how it connects with the picture. I like how the mountains are at the top of the picture but there is nothing else until the bottom. It makes me think of clouds that are present, when trying to look at the mountains and clouds are in the way you can only see the tips. These piece also looks very old and fragile. I thought you did a great job explaining the history behind it and also you opinions towards the piece.

  4. 日本按經緯線劃分法將釣魚台劃入版圖,在國際法上無法律效力。如將中日兩方論據綜合起來分析,日本的「無主地先佔法」已不能成立,日本官方近年以來的聲明亦不再強調。被他們反覆強調的是「經緯線劃分法」,即堅稱釣魚台是日本領土不可分割的一部分,而事實上釣魚台是在一九五三年美國琉球民政府劃定的經緯線內,並且在其有效控制之下。



    (一)因發現、命名、使用而取得的「原始權利」 (Inchoate Title)。

    (二)根據「大陸架公約」第二條規定: 「海岸國有行使發掘大陸架與利用其天然資源之主權權利 (Sovereign Rights)」 而取得的「主權權利」。


    第一步,收回原始權利 (Inchoate Title)。 釣魚台最早是由中國人發現、命名和使用的。據史籍記載,自從一四0三年至一九六九年這五百年間,中國人自由來往釣魚台,視為家常便飯,並且留下大量文字紀錄。近三十多年來,日本政府突然宣佈釣魚台為其治下領土,不許中國人自由往來釣魚台,剝奪了中國人五百年來自由來往釣魚台的權利,這不但違反國際法理,而且違背人類公理。


    第二步,積極行使主權權利 (Sovereign Rights)。美國總統杜魯門於一九四五年九月二十八日發表的有關大陸架的一項聲明指出:「美國政府認為大陸架之底土及海床所有天然資源,由土地連接國家行使管轄權,是合理及公正的。」根據該項聲明精神,聯合國於一九五八年簽訂了《大陸架公約》(Continental Shelf),其中第二條規定:「海岸國有行使發掘大陸架、與利用其天然資源之主權權利。」


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