Artwork Panel: 31.5cm x 112cm ≈ 12½" x 44"
Silk/Brocade: 41cm x 167.5cm ≈ 16" x 66"
Width at Wooden Knobs: 50cm ≈ 19¾"
Close up view of the artwork mounted to this silk brocade wall scroll
The title of this painting is simply, "Gui Fei", which has come to mean "lady-in-waiting" or "imperial concubine".
In Chinese culture, there are four famous beautiful woman of China.
They are thought to be the most beautiful and significant woman of China's ancient history.
Although the stories about these woman are based on fact, they are also steeped in legend.
These woman have remained famous through history because of the drastic effects on the emperors, kings, and kingdoms with whom they were bound.
Some of the beauties brought kingdoms and dynasties to their knees.
Most of the beauties had lives that ended in tragedy or mystery.
The legend and history of these woman has inspired Chinese artists for generations to create paintings that depict these four famous beauties of ancient China.
This woman was born as "Yang Yu-Huan" she later became known in history as "Yang Gui-Fei".
To break down the meaning:
Yang = Her family name
Gui = Precious
Fei = Concubine
Therefore you can call her, "Precious Concubine" in English.
...because "concubine" is was not such a bad term in ancient China, you might call her, "The Precious Beauty".
Yang Gui-Fei was selected by the emperor (during the Tang Dynasty) to become one of his concubines. She soon became the only woman that the emperor wanted.
Because he was so taken with her beauty he neglected his duties as emperor, and spent all of his time with her.
Soon stability of the country crumbled around him. This beautiful woman and her alluring and charming ways had left an empire in ruins.
The emperor lost everything because of his captivation by this beautiful and addictive woman.
Later, the people around the kingdom, knowing the effect she had on the emperor, killed her.
Knowing this fact, it almost makes you want to rename her, "The Deadly Beauty of China".
There lessons to be learned from both sides of this story.
This work was done in Chengdu by Huang Xin'an (Pronounced a little bit like "who-ong shin un") from the Sichuan (Szechwan) Province of China.
After I bought this work in Chengdu, I later returned to Beijing and had it mounted as a traditional hand-made silk scroll in our workshop. This makes a nice, ready-to-hang piece of wonderful hand-painted art.
Huang Xin'an signing some of his work in Chengdu.
I lost track of Huang Xin'an after my last trip to Chengdu. His phone number was out of order, and I was disappointed that I could not contact him to get more of his paintings.
I make the decision to go to Chengdu on my new art-buying trip mostly because of him.
After 15 hours on a slow train, I arrive in Chengdu. I check-in at Sam's Guesthouse (a hangout for backpackers from around the world, and a hostel with reasonably-priced beds). After a much-needed shower, I head out to find Huang Xin'an.
Taxis drive at the speed-of-light in Chengdu (the city boasts over 1000 fatal auto accidents per year), I arrive in no-time at the place I last found Mr. Huang. Sure enough, as I walk down the alley toward his gallery, he sees me and runs out to greet me. I'm really happy to see him, and the feeling is mutual.
I tell him how I came to Chengdu just to buy art from him (after not being able to reach him on the phone). He is so honored that I think he wants to hug me. He offers me a chair, and says he's painted a lot of work over that last 9 months with both me and my customers in mind. I was also honored by this gesture. He shows me a lot of new work in styles that I like.
I spend 2 days with Mr. Huang and we talk about a lot of new ideas and artwork that I think my western customers will like. He offers to close his gallery for a few days, and paint the art that I asked for. So I took a few days to meet and visit other artists in Chengdu. When I return to Mr. Huang's gallery, I am not disappointed. He did such a great job, words can't describe.