Views of Huqiu

Full Title: 
虎丘圖卷; Views of Huqiu
Ink and color on paper
19.0 cm (height) x 210 cm (length)
Serving as the prelude, the rural scenes at the beginning of the painting constitute the natural environment of the main composition. A Fisherman, a farmer and some farmhouses further illuminate the subject of rural landscape. The flimsy mist, which covers the sinuous river and trees, implies autumn rain. Two gentlemen, crossing the bridge and heading toward the Hill to their left, lead the eyes of viewers to the Tiger Hill. Across a small bridge there begins the major part of the composition. Passing through a gate, three gentlemen are climbing a winding path and about to disappear in the rocks and the mountain forest. They seem to be chatting with each other, releasing an air of relaxation and enjoyment. The boats anchoring along the riverbank may explain how they have reached here. The canals and paths toward the tiger hill were constructed by the great Tang poet Bai Juyi 白居易 (772-846) when he was 54 years old, to make the hill and the monastery more accessible. The enormous plain stone at the left is the so-called Qianrenshi 千人石 (The Rock for Thousand People), which acquired the name for its capacity of accommodating a thousand people simultaneously. A tiny figure walking on it dramatically reveals its large size. Two men face vis-à-vis, perhaps communicating with each, are sitting beside the Jianchi 劍池 (The Sword Pond), over which a little bridge spans across two steep cliffs. The Sword Pond is the legendary funerary site of He Lü 闔閭 (d. 496 B.C.), a king of the Wu state whose capital was near Suzhou in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-480 BCE). It is said that many rare swords were buried down the water after this sword lover king was entombed beneath the pond after his death. Passing through the transitional cloister, people will enter the Yunyan Monastery 雲嚴寺 (The Monastery of Clouds and Rocks), which includes Qianfotang 千佛堂 (The One-Thousand-Buddhas Hall), a multi-layered building, and a pagoda. The Yunyan Monastery building complex, emerging from the cliffs, has been famous religious and cultural center in south-east China for more than thousand years, since it was originally founded in 327 CE in the Eastern Jin dynasty (317-420). The relic of the pagoda still exists today and has become the icon of Suzhou. Turning to the back of the hill there are several more cloisters. Inside, people are looking into the distance, being inebriated by the beauty of the landscape. Stone steps winds down through the rear gate of the Hill. Another building complex, perhaps affiliated to the Yunyan Monastery, squats on top of a smaller hill to the left of the main peak. The ending section of the scroll, as the epilogue, returns to the rural views, echoing with the beginning part. Humble cottages at the bottom of the valley contrast themselves to the lofty buildings on the Hill. People on the road are farmers wearing shorts, rather than gentlemen in robes. On the vast lake fishermen are floating their boats to fish. Behind the mist of the autumn rain reveals a string of mountains and peaks, retreating slowly into the distance.
Repository Accession Number: 
Keith McLeod Fund
Description Source: 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston;
Scrolls Project ID: 
728 363