The dream by the Qiantang River
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A scholar official in Song dynasty Sima You (司马槱) dreamed of a beautiful girl presenting him the first half of a song, which he later developed into a full version called Huangjinlv (黄金缕). The girl was none other than a famous courtesan Su Xiaoxiao (苏小小) who lived by the Qiantang River and was in the local high society centuries earlier, an embodiment of the Southern sophisticated culture that the Northern young man absolutely adored. Since he had chanced on her relics in his backyard and gave her a proper burial the previous afternoon, the girl appeared in his dream to show gratitude to him.
The story scene on the Butler dish and the Cizhou pillow was first deciphered by Dr Yibin Ni.
- Yibin Ni (2002) The Shunzhi Emperor and the Popularity of Scenes from the Romance of the Western Wing on Porcelain, Treasures from an Unknown Reign: Shunzhi Porcelain, Art Services Intl, p.78.
- 倪亦斌:《被遗忘的<钱塘梦>》,《艺术世界》, 上海: 上海文艺出版社, 2004-04, pp.74-75.
- 倪亦斌:《被遗忘的<钱塘梦>》,《看图说瓷》, 北京: 中华书局, 2008, pp.11-18.
Other dream scene on antique artworks:
Fig 1: blue-and-white porcelain dish, Shunzhi period (1644-61), Qing dynasty, courtesy of the Sir Michael Butler Collection
Fig 2: blue-and-white porcelain dish, Kangxi period (1662-1722), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Shanghai Museum, China
Fig 3: ceramic pillow, Jin dynasty (1115-1234), from Zhang Ziying (2000), Porcelain Pillows from Cizhou Kiln, Beijing People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, Beijing, fig. 48.
Fig 4: Dreaming of Su Xiaoxiao, ink and colour on silk, Liu Yuan (刘元, active in Jin dynasty), courtesy of Cincinnati Art Museum