The Orchid Pavilion GatheringArtist(s)Sheng MaoyeObject Creation Date1621Medium & Supporthandscroll, ink and color on silkDimensions
12 ¼ in x 84 ½ in (31.12 cm x 214.63 cm);12 in x 84 ½ in (30.48 cm x 214.63 cm);12 7/16 in (31.59 cm);x 12 15/16 in x 32.86 cm;3 ¾ in x 14 9/16 in x 3 ¼ in (9.53 cm x 36.99 cm x 8.25 cm)Credit LineMuseum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection FundSubject matter
This elegant handscroll brings to life a famous historical event, a literary gathering of forty-one scholars celebrating the annual Spring Purification Festival at the Orchid Pavilion in the city of Shaoxing, Zhejiang province. Held on the third day of the third month in the year 353, on this special occasion literati enjoyed a ritual drinking game which incorporated composing poetry. Cups of wine, resting on large leaves, were floated down a stream and if a scholar could not recite a suitable poem, he had to drink a cup of wine. The celebration grew ever merrier as retrieving wine cups became more precarious.
What made this particular gathering so memorable was the presence of the great calligrapher Wang Xizhi (303–361). Inside the pavilion Wang is seated at a table writing his preface to the collected poems of this gathering. His preface, which vividly describes the event and laments the rapid passage of time, is a classic of Chinese literature and calligraphy.Physical Description
Handscroll depicting figures (42 men and 6 boys) in a landscape, most of whom are sitting along the banks of a stream as cups on lotus leaves float by. A small cluster of figures sits in a shelter over the water examining a handscroll. The painting includes an inscription, six artist’s seals and one collector’s seal.Primary Object Classification Painting Primary Object TypehandscrollCollection AreaAsianRights
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cups (drinking vessels)
figures in landscape
men (male humans)