Happy Lunar New Year 2021

To all my Chinese family and friends - Happy New Year.

It is the Year of the Ox so we are going to welcome in the New Year with three beautiful paintings of Oxen.

Five Oxen by Han Huang (AD 723-787) (1)
Detail from Five Oxen by Han Huang (AD 723-787) (2)

"Five Oxen" (above) is a painting by Han Huang (AD 723-787), a prime minister in the Tang Dynasty (618–907). The painting was lost during the occupation of Beijing by the Eight-Nation Alliance in 1900 and later recovered from a collector in Hong Kong during the early 1950s. Now it is stored in the Palace Museum in Beijing.

The painting is 139.8 cm long and 20.8 cm wide. The five oxen in varied postures and colors in the painting are drawn with thick, heavy and earthy brushstrokes. They are endowed with subtle human characteristics, delivering the spirit of the willingness to bear the burden of hard labor without complaints.

Most of the paintings recovered from ancient China are of flowers, birds and human figures. This painting is the only one with oxen as its subject that are represented so vividly, making the painting one of the best animal paintings in China's art history.

Below is another ancient Chinese painting of an ox - this one by an unknown artist but painted in the late C13th. It is a hanging scroll and painted in ink on silk.

Ox and Herdsman - artist unkown (late C13th) (3)

And finally a most delightful painting of a Herd Boy and Ox in Spring by Li Keran (1907–1989). It is a scroll painted in ink on paper

Herd Boy

Herd Boy and Ox in Spring by Li Keran1

Tomorrow Caroline is going to take you deep into the world of numbers which is appropriate considering how important numbers are within the Chinese culture.

1. commons.wikimedia.org
2. china.org.cn
3. metmuseum.org
4. artnet.com