Orchid (蘭, lan) symbolises modesty, as well as love, friendship, beauty, and represents the spring. It is one of the Four Gentlemen.
The orchids normally painted are grass orchids – wild flowers – so they are delicate, lively, playful. Orchids should be painted with “happy qi.” There are 2 types: single flower per stem (lan orchid) or multiple flowers per stem (hui orchid). The leaves are the same for both.
Famous Orchid painters include:
- Zheng Sixiao (Song/Yuan) – painted a famous single orchid (now in Osaka Museum of Art) possibly in protest at the Mongol invasion.
- Wen Zhengming (Ming)
- Zhao Mengjian (Ming)
- Zheng Xie/Zheng Banqiao (Qing) – one of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou , and my favourite! e.g. this Orchid & Bamboo handscroll in the Met.
- Li Fangying (Qing) – also one of the Eight Eccentrics.
- Wu Changshuo (Late Qing/Republic).
- Henry Li has several demonstrations of orchids:
- In Chinese: boneless orchid flowers
© Angela Reich 2021