Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Zhao Ji Essay -- Biography

Zhao Ji was the eleventh son of Emperor Shenzong of the Northern Song Dynasty. Being so far down the line for succession to the empire, he spent his time devoting himself to his loves of literature, art, and Daoism; surrounding himself in luxury and sophistication. He built up and catalogued an extensive painting collection, Xuanhehuapu, with over 6,000 paintings. To date, no earlier collection, neither court or private, is known to have as much detail as Huizong’s because book length catalogues of his paintings, calligraphies and antiquities all survived (Ebrey, p.5). Huizong wanted to reform court music that had been degenerated during the Five Dynasties Period and was an avid believer in ruiying, Heaven’s way of communicating with the earth. He is thought of as the only accomplished artist in a line of emperors all who loved and appreciated the arts (Oxford Art Dictionary). It is his love of the arts, and his decisions to favor art and religion over politics that i s associated with the fall of the Great Northern Song Dynasty, a dynasty that ruled from 960 until it was lost at the hand of Huizong in 1127. Huizong was a literati artist, well trained in poetry and calligraphy often looking at paintings in terms of these two arts, adopting many of the aesthetic concepts set forth in Ershisi Shipin (The 24 aspects of Poetry). As a literati artist he believed in â€Å"depth and primitive simplicity† in his work, and that painting was an enjoyable activity intended to please one’s self and one’s friends (Barnhart, p.3). His development as an artist was oversaw by three friends, all of high social rank, but of different interests. Zhao Lingrang was a painter and assisted the Emperor in his continual search for scrolls to adorn his colle... ... â€Å"In popular Chinese memory, Huizong is known as the Artist-Emperor (Ebrey, p.8)† He was talented enough to have made a name for himself, had he not become emperor. During his twenty six year rule he established the most impressive art collection anyone has put together to date. He established a school for court painters and restored music in China. It was simply his own misfortune that during his rule, his empire would fall to the Jin tribe from the North. Perhaps it is because â€Å"Huizong loved the beautiful so intensely that he had no head for the tough side of governing (Ebrey, p.11)†. However I do not think it would be fair to overlook all that Huizong did for the arts of China and simply concentrate on the ill fortune that forced him to lose his empire. A few bad decisions shouldn’t undo all the greatness that Huizong has enabled through his love of the arts.

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