Chinese Female Warrior Mu Guiying
Woman General of The House of Yang
Fine Art Giclee Print Reproduction
Please note that the true story of Mu Guiying has several variations. It has been retold many times and is featured in a famous Peking Opera. The following is my short version of the story which I believe is historically correct.
The Song Dynasty Army was in a tight battle with the forces of a nomad militia commanded by Great Liao from China's northern borders. The Great Liao sought the advice of a famous military tactician, Lu Zhong who devised an invincible battle formation known as "Tianmen Zhen" or "The Heavenly Gate". This formation involved 72
sections and was believed to be invincible.
The Great Liao dared the Song army to defeat the formation within 100 days. Otherwise, they had to surrender their recently unified motherland to the Great Liao.
The whole Song Army was commanded by generals who all belonged to the House of Yang. Each member of the House of Yang fought with great vigor against the invading forces.
Sadly, they were sabotaged by a faction in the Song Court and distrusted by the Song Emperor.
Eventually, the Song Army headed by the House of Yang was defeated by the Great Liao. There were great losses including five of the eight generals of Yang (all brothers).
Of the three surviving generals, one was captured by the forces of Great Liao, and became the son-in-law of Liao (more common than you might imagine - as captured officers of high rank often joined the army of their captors as an honorable gesture and to save face after defeat).
Another general quit and went on a pilgrimage and eventually became a monk.
Yang Yanzhao was the only remaining brother, and therefore became the commanding general. The positions of the lost generals were now taken by all the women of the family.
These new generals included Yang Yanzhao's mother, wife, two sisters, and three of his brothers' widows. They are known in China as, "The Women Generals of Yang".
Mu Guiying's Story
General Yang Yanzhao's teenage son, Yang Zongbao was sent on a mission to seek out the daughter of a military tactician who was rumored to have the secret to breaking the Heavenly Gate formation.
The girl that he was sent to find was none other than a 19-year-old girl named Mu Guiying.
Yang Zongbao came across a few women in a forest, not realizing that one of them was the woman he sought.
The women toyed with him, and Mu Guiying finally revealed her identity but refused to give up the secret of defeating the Heavenly Gate unless he could beat her in a series of fighting duels. The penalty for losing would be that he would have to marry her.
What the young Yang Yanzhao did not realize was that in this rather chivalrous period in China, Mu Guiying was not only a cunning warrior but was choosing her own husband.
He lost all three duels, secretly married Mu Guiying, and returned, empty-handed, and a day late.
Upon his return, his father was furious with his son and ordered his execution for being tardy and not fulfilling his orders.
Mu Guiying heard about the execution order and came to General Yang Yanzhao's headquarters to plead for her new husband's life.
Of course, General Yang Yanzhao knew about the secret wedding, and his plan was to draw out Mu Guiying, and never actually execute his son.
The General demanded that Mu Guiying give him the secret to defeating the Heavenly Gate. Through some negotiation, she agreed and took charge of the army.
Rather than fight in a decisive battle, she sent forces to the flank to burn and destroy the food and supplies of the forces. Since no force can maintain a protracted battle without supplies, they would need to depend on strong supply lines from a base. Mu Gui-Yang knew this, and sent forces to simultaneously attack the base city of the Liao army, and cut off the supply line.
The forces of Great Liao now starving, and without any way to replenish arrows, and other weapons on the battlefield, were soundly defeated.
After defeating Great Liao, the Song Emperor bestowed the official title of General upon Mu Guiying and threw a proper and royal wedding for Mu Guiying and Yang Zongbao.
in China, she is as famous, or perhaps more famous than Hua Mulan (who is only known in the western world for the Mulan Disney movie).
Legend has it that she remained a Commanding General in the Song Army well into her 80's
She was a tough yet feminine woman throughout her life. One legend has it that she led the army in battle while pregnant, and gave birth to her son, Yang Wenguang on the battlefield.
About the Art
This is printed on handmade/hand-pressed Orange "Unryu Kozo" paper with many kozo (mulberry) fibers pressed into the content (you will see lots of thick fibers pressed into this paper).
This print was then taken to my mounting shop in Beijing where a hand-made silk wall scroll was created.
This wall scroll then flew with me from China to the USA and is now located at my San Diego, California gallery, ready to be shipped to you.
I paid a license fee to the artist for permission to produce this print. A hand-painted version would be priced at about $300.
About My Giclée Prints
I'm really into this as a hobby more than a business, but that means I have more dedication to the art than the profit.
I love to experiment with different papers and graphic designs until I find the perfect combination.
Quality really matters to me, and is also more important than profit.
There's another fine art print shop down the street that charges twice as much as I do - so maybe I am doing something wrong, but you benefit from my folly.
It took me a few years to find just the right fine art giclée printer.
The first printer handled the handmade papers from Japan and China really well, but the dye-based ink could fade in direct sunlight (dye-based inks are not good for long-lasting art).
The next printer was a huge HP DesignJet. I spent almost $7000 on the used printer, new heads, and new ink tanks just get it going. However, it constantly jammed when trying to feed these fine papers. I sold it for $1200 - ouch!
I finally bought a wonderful Canon imagePROGRAF PRO Series. A big investment (printer and initial ink, about $6000) but this time it was a good investment.
This Canon printer has 18,432 nozzles and can fire more than 32 Million precision droplets of ink per second. Your home inkjet printer cannot compete with that.
There are 12 ink tanks, and with so many ink colors, the gamut is excellent.
This printer can reproduce any color the human eye can perceive, and the gradients and tones are smooth and, well, perfect.
I use only authentic Canon Lucia Pro pigment-based inks. This ink is archival and UV-resistant. In independent laboratory testing, giclée prints created with this ink are rated to last 95 years without fading (but still don't hang this in direct sunlight). I figure you'll get a lifetime of enjoyment if you take good care of this artwork.
Want a customized wall scroll or custom-sized print? Just contact me!
I can print this larger, on the paper texture of your choice, and give you whatever silk brocade colors you want. Ready-to-frame prints can be delivered in a few days. However, it does take several weeks for custom wall scrolls. Either way, it's worth the wait if you want something really custom and unique.