Artwork Panel: 44.2cm x 67cm ≈ 17½" x 26¼"
Silk/Brocade: 53.2cm x 124cm ≈ 21" x 48¾"
Width at Wooden Knobs: 62.2cm ≈ 24½"
Close up view of the warrior artwork mounted to this silk brocade wall scroll
Please note: This piece was held in reserve as part of my personal collection. However, I never found the wall space for it, so it's been waiting for the past 8 years rolled and wrapped up on a shelf. The value of this piece is now wildly higher than what I am offering it for (when last I checked, these were going for $500+ in Hong Kong and Shanghai Galleries). While painted in 2006, it's 2014 now, and time to release this one for sale.
His nickname is Pi-Li Huo which means "Thunder-clap Fire" or simply "Thunderbolt", because of his fiery and short temper.
The leader of the Outlaws of the Marsh saw Qin Ming in battle, and was impressed by this warrior's skillful use of his weapon, and bravery in battle and badly wanted him to join his forming army.
Qin Ming was a Sergeant in the Imperial Army. His temper can probably be explained by what happened to him:
The leader of the Outlaws started a rumor that Qin Ming was disloyal to the Empire. When Qin Ming's commander suspected him of being a traitor, he secretly ordered the killing of his wife and children.
The leader of the Outlaws apologized profusely for his actions, and offered Qin Ming a new wife of his choice, and other benefits. Qin Ming refused, but he could no longer trust or be trusted by the Empire. Finally, he left the Empire to become the third general of the Army of the Outlaws of the Marsh.
Qin Ming's weapon of choice is the "Wolves tooth spear". It's a long staff with sets of spikes at both ends. One end has a larger and heavier cluster of these spikes, and can be used as both a spear and a sort of ripping hammer. The weapon gets its name from the fact that the small spikes are shaped much like the teeth of a wolf.
The warriors in this series of paintings come from a classic Chinese novel written about 650 years ago. The novel can be compared to Homer's Odyssey, because much of the story is based on and/or matches historical facts of ancient China. Nobody seems sure if these legendary warriors are real, myth, or a combination of the two.
It is difficult to translate the title of the novel into English, but some translations of the novel into English have titled it in the following ways:
All Men are Brothers
Outlaws of the Marsh
The Water Margin (This is the direct Chinese translation into English, we'd probably say, "The Marsh")
You can find several translations of the whole novel in English on Amazon if you are interested in the story. Just look for one of the above titles.
The story covers the trials and tribulations of 108 outlaw heroes. These men and women were persecuted and banished to the marsh by corrupt officials of the Song (Sung) Dynasty.
This group, over the years formed an army of warriors that fought against the government. The often raided official riches, and distributed the wealth among the poor (and of course themselves). For this fact, they are often compared to the story of Robin Hood. But don't let that fool you. These were some of the most ruthless characters of ancient China. They were no angels.
My personal notes on the novel: If you get a chance to read the novel, you will find suspense, romance, a lot of character development, and of course, a whole lot of violence.
The violence they inflict was not something that most of them desired in their hearts, but something that their circumstances forced them to portray. The loyalty and honor of these warriors to each other, and their cause becomes extreme through time. The whole story is really about the love, duty, and honor of these "Warriors of circumstance".
Translation by Ling Hua and Gary W.
This is a elaborate style painting using special black Chinese ink and watercolor on xuan paper (rice paper).
This rice paper was then taken to our mounting shop in Beijing where a hand-made silk wall scroll was created for this painting.
This wall scroll then flew with me from China to the USA and is now located at our San Diego, California gallery, ready to be shipped to you.
Visiting an old friend and artist in Chengdu, I notice a woman is politely waiting for me. Soon enough, I finish my business, and leave my friend to work on some art that I would pick up several days later. The polite woman greets me as I walk out. She quietly asks if I would just take a look at her artwork.
I walk over to her little booth and take a look. The work is good, and I am surprised that she doesn't have a studio-gallery like a lot of artists. She says that she likes to sell in the market, and put paintings in the hands of "the common man". It is then that I realize we have a similar philosophy.
The artist, Li Ying-Lai, was really excited when I told him that I wanted dragons and legendary warriors of China. He said that dragons and warriors are his favorite subject to paint.
I look through her whole collection, and pick out several pieces that I like. Her husband shows up, and helps out getting paintings out of boxes for me to look at.
After we settle and I pay for all of the paintings, he asks if there is any other kind of art that I am looking for. I tell him, in Chinese, "I have been looking for warriors and really cool dragons for a long time". Suddenly he is very excited. Grabbing through several boxes he emerges with a photo album. He hands the album to me and tells me that I must look!
Opening the album, I see a great collection of paintings of "Legendary Warriors of China" and several eye-catching dragons. He tells me that all of the photos are of his paintings.
Now, I get pretty excited, because I've been looking for good warrior-paintings for more than a year and a half, and I am always on the lookout for a good dragon-painting.
He doesn't have any work ready to sell, but we talk about sizes, styles, and which warriors and dragons I want, and even down to what the background of each piece should be. We talk until the end of the day, and finally we talk about the price. I am expecting something high, but the price he gives me is just too low for this quality of work. So, for the first time in my art-buying career, I "reverse-bargain", and tell him that I will pay 50% more as long as the quality is good. He and his wife look puzzled for a second, and then he remarks in Chinese, "I have been waiting to hear someone say that for a long time". The gesture as they took it was not about money, but more about my personal compliment on the quality and importance of the art itself.
Li Ying-Lai with his wife and daughter. As usual, I am the "non-Chinese-looking guy" in the picture.
The artist's name is Li Ying-Lai. He lives with his wife and young daughter near Chengdu, in the Sichuan province of China. As if fitting the stereotype, he loves to paint dragons and warriors, but his wife paints beautiful women, flowers, landscapes, and animals.
They both live the simple life of artists. Both of them have the attitude that the art itself is more important than money. The honor of knowing that their work will now be on the walls of homes throughout the world is the thing they feel strongest about.
Leaving Kashgar (a 2000-year-old trading post and gateway from China to the Middle East), I was sick as a dog, recovering from Malaria. I wanted badly to just head back home to Beijing, but I knew that I needed to head to Chengdu to see this husband and wife artist duo.
It had been over a year since I had seen them, and due to a phone number change, we lost contact for a while. It was time to rekindle our relationship (relationships or "guanxi" is a very important concept in Chinese culture - it's often about showing mutual respect, exchanging favors, developing a friendship before doing business, and building trust).
I found that Li Ying-Lai is doing pretty well now. His artwork was recently featured in "The 3rd Eye" magazine (a major fine art publication distributed in Mainland China and Hong Kong). Other art critics have recommended investment purchases of Li Ying-Lai's artwork, expecting that it will increase in value during the coming years.
This also means it's time to pay more for his artwork. We talked for a while, and decided to increase everything by about 50%. So suddenly a $100 painting from him is now $150, but orders for his artwork pour in from Shanghai collectors that are paying twice as much. The fact that we have "guanxi" from all of my purchases of his artwork before he became famous means that I can still bring his artwork to you at a higher, but still affordable price.