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Butterflies and Peach Blossoms

Accession Number
1980/1.220A

Title
Butterflies and Peach Blossoms

Artist(s)
Chinese

Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
1832

Medium & Support
fan mounted as an album leaf, ink and color on paper

Dimensions
7 1/8 in x 21 1/4 in (18.1 cm x 54 cm);18 in x 27 15/16 in (45.8 cm x 71 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase made possible by the Richard K. Beardsley Memorial Fund, supplemented by funds from the Friends

Label copy
Gallery Rotation Summer 2013
The butterfly is a symbol of love and fidelity between husband and wife. One popular folk tale recounts the story of a young male student and a maiden who fell in love but were forbidden to marry. The student pined away and died, and when the maiden was on her way to her arranged wedding, she stopped to cry at his tomb. Suddenly the tomb opened and a butterfly emerged. She too was transformed into a butterfly and they flew away together.
Peach blossoms appear in the Book of Songs (Shijing / Shih-ching éç„S, China’s most ancient poetry anthology, compiled by the fifth century B.C.E. at the latest) in a poem about how young men and women should marry at an appropriate age.
Together, butterflies and peach blossoms make this fan a perfect wedding or engagement gift.
Maribeth Graybill, Senior Curator of Asian Art
Exhibited in "Flora and Fauna in Chinese Art," April 6, 2002 - December 1, 2002.

Subject matter
The butterflies and peach blossoms on this fan would have made it a perfect wedding or engagement gift. In China the butterfly is a symbol of love and fidelity between a married couple. One popular folk tale recounts the story of a young male student and a maiden who fall in love but are forbidden to wed. The student pines away and eventually dies. On the way to her arranged wedding, the maiden stops to cry at his tomb when suddenly it opens and her first love emerges in the form of a butterfly. She, too, is transformed into a butterfly and they fly away together. The peach blossoms are a reference to a poem in the Book of Songs, or Shijing, China’s most ancient poetry anthology, compiled by the fifth century BCE.

Primary Object Classification
Unbound Work

Primary Object Type
leaf

Additional Object Classification(s)
Painting

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Insects
butterfly
calligraphy (process)
fans
flowers

3 Related Resources

Ink and Realisms
(Part of: Artist Associations and Art Movements)
Marriage
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted