Meng Haoran Looking for Plum Blossom on a Snowy Day
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Meng Haoran (孟浩然, c. 690–740) is one of the most renowned poets in Tang dynasty (618–906). He started off pursuing a civil service career and then abandoned it to concentrate on poetry. He was a major influence on other Tang and later poets because of his innovative focus on nature. There is a play attributed to the noted Yuan dynasty playwright and poet, Ma Zhiyuan (马致远, c.1250 – c.1324), entitled ‘(Meng Haoran) Looking for Plum Blossom on a Snowy Day’. In the play, Meng Haoran was characterised as a scholar with incredible integrity, symbolised by his love of plum blossom looking its best during the depths of winter. For hundreds of years, Chinese literati have lauded his life-long self-exile from material pursuits in officialdom and held up his deeds as good examples for scholars.
Read Dr Yibin Ni’s blog here for more interesting discussion on the identity of the scholar figure in similar scenes.
Jeffrey P. Stamen and Cynthia Volk with Yibin Ni (2017), A Culture Revealed: Kangxi-Era Chinese Porcelain from the Jie Rui Tang Collection 文采卓然：潔蕊堂藏康熙盛世瓷, Jieruitang Publishing, Bruges, pp. 34–35.
Fig 1: blue-and-white porcelain jar, Kangxi period (1662–1722), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Jie Rui Tang Collection
Fig 2: famille verte and doucai conical cup, Kangxi period (1662–1722), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Jie Rui Tang Collection
Fig 3: porcelain dish with underglaze blue decoration from the Hatcher Cargo, c. 1643, courtesy of Princessehof Museum, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
Fig 4: porcelain dish with enamelled decoration, Kangxi period, early 18th century, published in Regina Krahl, Chinese ceramics from the Meiyintang collection, London: Azimuth Editions, 1994, Vol. II, cat. 773, p. 144
Fig 5: porcelain dish with enamelled decoration, Kangxi period, early 18th century, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Fig 6-7: porcelain bowl with underglaze blue decoration, Wanli period (1572–1620), courtesy of the Sir Michael Butler Collection