A Study on the Earliest Representation of Garment & Accessories in the Figure Illustrations of ‘Nushi zhen’
By Yue Hu
Asian Culture and History, Vol.1, No.2 (2009)
Abstract: The earliest Chinese handscroll extant painting is the ‘Nushi zhen’ by Gu Kaizhi housed in the British Museum, which is now often considered to be a Tang Dynasty copy of the original. This article shows the study of the representation of garment and accessories of the figure illustrations all-sided in the painting. And by comparing with correlated literature and images, it opens out the typical skills and style in which the ancient Chinese figure painters of Jin Dynasty (AD 265-420) depicting the apparels in the handscroll painting.
Introduction: In Qi Dynasty (AD 479-502) of Southern Dynasties, Xie He said: “No ancient painting is exquisite until Wei Xie.” in his <Commentaries on Ancient Paintings>. The ancient paintings Xie mentioned were the Chinese handscroll paintings of figure illustrations, and Wei was famous in Western Jin Dynasty (AD 265-317). So the mature style of Chinese ancient handscroll painting should appear from then on. Unfortunately, there was no Wei’s painting in existence, even copies. The earliest painting we can see nowadays is the ‘Nushi zhen’ by Gu Kaizhi housed in the British Museum, who was a top painter of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (AD 317-420), and ever learned painting from Xie. Upon that, this article will study the representation of garment and accessories of the figures in the painting all-sided. And by comparing with correlated literature and images, it may unveil the prevailing skills and styles of earliest Chinese handscroll figure painting at that time, although the painting being likely a later copy.