Podcasts: Images

A New World of Sound: PRISM Saxophone Quartet and Music From China

At Ease in the Countryside

This detail, from a carved lacquer box, belongs to a series of intimate vignettes showing gentlemen enjoying music in outdoor settings. In this scene, an elderly musician plays the pipa for his friends, who are seated in a bamboo grove. Because the group shown on the lacquer box includes seven members, it is tempting to associate the scene with the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, a group of scholars, writers, and musicians who shared an interest in Taoist ideas. It is said that they chose to resign their official posts and live in seclusion to avoid the political difficulties that arose at court during the late third century CE.

Carved lacquer food box (detail). Wang Ming, late 15th century. China, Ming dynasty, Hongzhi reign, 1488-1505. Carved black, red, and yellow lacquer over wood. Purchase, F1968.76a-b

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