Wang Yuan, attr.
The beautiful sight of the great white heron has inspired the Chinese to create paintings, poems, and songs about it. Here, you have come face to face with this magnificent bird, but is it merely an aesthetic image? The subjects of many Chinese paintings are symbolic, and this bird usually represents purity and morality. His picture would be painted to bring you long life and strength. However, this particular painting is not entirely Chinese because it has a Japanese mounting. Would the Japanese enjoy this Chinese painting for the same reasons? In Japan the meaning of a heron is different than it is in China. It can foretell success on an exam, but usually only when paired with a lotus. However the Japanese shied away from painting this bird too often; their word for heron, sagi, is a homophone for “fraud” and “false pretenses.” What sort of luck will this ambiguous bird bring to you?
Alicia Thibeault, Colby ‘08