An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Jieziyuan huapu 芥子園畫譜

May 28, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

The Jieziyuan huapu 芥子園畫譜 "The Painting book of the Mustard Seed Garden", also called Jieziyuan huazhuan 芥子園畫傳, is a book on painting compiled by the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) master Wang Gai 王概 (fl. 1705) and his brothers Wang Shi 王蓍 and Wang Nie 王臬.

The exact dates of life of Wang Gai, original name Wang Hao 王淏, also written Wang Gai 王改, 王匄 or 王丐, courtesy name Dongguo 東郭 or Anjie 安節, are not known. He was active in the late 17th century, hailed from Xiushui 秀水 (modern Jiaxing 嘉興, Zhejiang) and lived for a long time in Jiangning 江寧 (Nangjing 南京, Jiangsu). Wang Gai had learned painting from the master Gong Xian 龔賢 (1618-1689) and was an expert in large-size paintings (dafu hua 大幅畫) of pines (song 松) and stones (shi 石). His paintings were famous for their strong and vivid style that was sometimes criticized as exaggerated. It is said that in his illustration of persons and birds (lingmao 翎毛) his movement of the brush had a "taste beyond (common) taste" (wei wai zhi wei 味外之味). When he produced paintings for Zhou Lianggong's 周亮工 (1612-1672) Litatu 禮塔圖 "Ritual pagoda" and Yufotu 浴佛圖 "Washing the Buddha", he created drawings that had an extraordinary touch of antiquity (qigu 奇古) and were very different from the contemporary mainstream of painting. Wang Gai was also renowned for his seal-carving skills. He often included poems of prose texts in his paintings and was, all in all, a highly respected artist of his times. Biographies of him can be found in the local gazetteer Jiangjing fu zhi 江寧府志, the painting book Guochao huazheng lu 國朝畫徵錄 (Qingchao huazheng lu 清朝畫徵錄), and a book on seal-carving, the Guang yinren zhuan 廣印人傳. Wang Gai's older brother Wang Shi, original name Wang Shi 王尸, courtesy name Micao 宓草, was likewise known as an artist painter, particularly in the field of portraits (gonshu工書), and a seal-carver. Wang Nie, original name Wang Nie 王孽, courtesy name Zizhi 司直 or Ruchen 汝陳, was known for his poems.

The Jieziyuan huapu was compiled on request of Shen Xinyou 沈心友, a son-in-law of the famous poet Li Yu 李漁 (1611-1680). Jieyizuan "Garden as [small as] a mustard seed" was the name of Li Yu's mansion in Nanjing. The book consists of four series (ji 集). The first was written on the base of a blueprint compiled by the Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Li Liufang 李流芳 (1575-1629) that consisted of 133 pages with 40 illustrations. The collection was printed as a high-quality coloured woodblock print edition with the support of Li Yu in 1678. It is divided into five chapters (juan "scrolls"), the first explaining the basic theories of painting (Huaxue qianshuo 畫學淺說), as well as the use of colours and shadings (Shese 設色), the second chapter (Shupu 樹譜) is dedicated to trees, the third (Shanyanpu 山石譜) to mountains, cliffs and rocks, the fourth (Renwu wuyu pu 人物屋宇譜) to persons and buildings, and the fifth chapter (Mingjia shanshui huapu 名家山水畫譜) presents selected examples of landscape painting from famous masters. Each chapter is divided into several sub-chapters.

The chapter on trees, for instance, includes eighteen various methods to draw trees, thirty-three methods to draw various leaves, twenty-nine methods to draw branches of trees in contours (jiaye 夾葉) as well as climbing plants (gouteng 鈎藤), nine methods to draw withered trees (kushu 枯樹), twenty-three methods to draw "various trees" (zashu 雜樹), fifteen methods to draw pines (song 松), cypresses (bai 柏) and willows (liu 柳), and seventeen methods of drawing bananas (jiao 蕉), cinnamom trees (tong 桐), flowers, bamboo and reed (jiatan 葭菼). For each method at least one illustration is provided that is shortly commented. In the eyes of the author it was important to note the flow of the "dragon veins" in the painting (lai long qu mai 來龍去脈), and to point at mistakes often occurring in popular painting. The chapter then presents examples of trees and leaves.

The first collection is introduced by two prefaces written by Li Liweng 李笠翁 (i.e. Li Yu) and He Yong 何鏞. The introductory chapter Qingzaitang huaxue jianshuo 青在堂畫學淺説 "Shallow explanation from the Qingzai Hall about the teachings of painting" gives a short overview of the history, styles and techniques of painting, like the "six basic rules" (liufa 六法), the "six requirements and the six features of strength" (liuyao liuzhang 六要六長), the "three failures" (sanbing 三病), the "three classes" (liuzong 三品), the various shools (fenzong 分宗), high-quality painters (zhongpin 重品), how to use brush (yongbi 用筆) and ink (yongmo 用墨), how to create colours (shese 設色), the use of pure silks (juansu 絹素), of paper (zhipian 紙片), the preparation of alumn (fanfa 礬法) or about inscriptions in paintings (luokuan 落款).

The second series was compiled by Zhu Sheng 諸昇 (b. 1618), an expert on bamboo (zhu 竹) and orchids (lan 蘭) from Hangzhou, Wang Zhi 王質 (Wang Yun'an 王蘊庵), a specialist for plums (mei 梅) and chrysanthemums (ju 菊), and the brothers Wang. It is divided into four chapters, each covering one of the four plants.

The third series was created by Wang Zhi and the brothers Wang. It consists of four chapters, the first (Caochong huahui 草蟲花卉) concentrating on insects and creeping animals between grass and flowers, and the second (Lingmao huahui 翎毛花卉) on birds and a few mammals inmidst of vegetation.

The second and third series were published as coloured woodblock print in 1701. These two series are also introduced by a theoretical introduction, with some poems and formulas (gejue 歌訣) on painting, and are including many examples created by famous painters. The second collection is dedicated to orchids, bamboo, plums and chrysanthemums. It is introduced by four prefaces, written by Zhu Sheng (Lanzhupu xu 蘭竹譜序), Yu Chun 余椿 (Meijupu xu 梅菊譜序), Wang Gai (Huazhuan hebian xu 畫傳合編序) and He Xong (Xu 序). The first chapter begins with ten basic rules for painting orchids and then explains different methods to draw orchid leaves in one single black curve (pie ye shi 撇葉式), drawing the outlines of leaves with two lines (shuanggou ye shi 雙鉤葉式), hanging leaves (pie ye dao chui shi 撇葉倒垂式), whole flowers (xie hua shi 寫花式), flowers in a few dots (dianxin shi 點心式), the outlines of flowers (shuanggou hua shi 雙鉤花式), and how to sketch whole twigs with flowers (xie huihua 寫蕙花式). Like the first collection, the four chapters of the second one are accompanied at the end of each chapter by famous examples of paintings to be copied and trained. Famous orchid painters were Ma Lin 馬麟, Meng Zhaofu 趙孟頫 and Wen Zhengming 文徵明. The other chapters are compiled in a similar way. Exemplary masters of bamboo painting were Li Kan 李衎 (author of the book Zhupu 竹譜), Su Shi 蘇軾 (1037-1101), Wen Tong 文同 (1018-1079) and Wang Mengduan. Masters of plum painting were Yang Buzhi 楊補之 (1097-1169), Wang Mian 王冕 (1287 or 1310-1359), Xu Xi 徐熙 (886-975), Teng Chengyou 滕昌祐 (late 9th cent.), Zhong Ren 仲仁 (late 11th cent.), Zhou Mi 周密 (1232-1298 or 1308) and Xu Chongsi 徐崇嗣 (late 10th cent.), and masters of chrysanthemum painting Huang Jian 黄鑒, Xu Xi, Zhao Yizhai 趙彝齋, Ke Danqiu 柯丹丘 and Zhao Chang.

The third collection is dedicated to the theme of flowers, grasses (hui 卉), "feathers" (ling 翎, i.e. birds) and "hairs" (mao 毛, i.e. birds and mammals). It begins with prefaces written by Wang Zehong 王澤弘 and He Zhiding 何之鼎, and includes postfaces by Xie Changnian 謝昌年 and Chao Xun. The collection is divided into two chapters and provides examples of 106 famous paintings. It is accompanied by ten rules for painting flowers and grasses and seven rules for "grasses and insects". As master examples for flowers and birds the third series shows drawings from paintings of Yi Yuanji 易元吉, Qian Xuan 錢選, Lü Ji 呂紀, Lin Liang 林良, Huang Jucai 黄居寀, Wang Yuan 王淵 and Sheng Mao 盛懋, and concerning other animals, examples of Li Di 李迪, Zhao Bosu 趙伯驌, Cui Bai 崔白, Bian Luan 邊鸞, Cui Que 崔慤 and Qian Xuan 錢選.

Shen Xinyou's idea had been to create four series, but the fourth part was never finished during his lifetime. Some book traders during the Jiaqing reign-period 嘉慶 (1796-1820) therefore decided to combine some already existing writings to create a fourth series. These were Ding Hao's 丁皋 Xiezhen mijue 寫真秘訣 (also called Chuanzhen xinling 傳真心領) and Shangguan Zhou's 上官周 Wanxiaotang huazhuan 晚笑堂畫傳. These texts were published in 1818 under the title of Jieziyuan huapu 芥子園畫譜. The resulting fourth series consists of three chapters, the first dedicated to the painting of "immortals" (liexian 列仙), the second to "famous worthies" (mingxian 名賢), and the third to "beauties" (meiren 美人). An appendix includes Li Yu's treatise Tuzhang huizuan 圖章會纂. The fourth collection is introduced by prefaces written by Zhang Mingke 張鳴珂, Huang Xiexun 黄協塤 and Tan Risen 譚日森撰. The afterwords were compiled by Chen Changsxhen 陳昌紳, Zou Wangbin 鄒王賓 and Chao Xun. The main text first gives an historical overview of the painting of persons and explains the methods and formulas of various ancient masters. It lists 94 exemplary paintings or writings of old masters like Pei Xiaoyuan 裴孝源, Zhang Yanyuan 張彦遠, Guo Xi 郭熙, Mi Fu 米芾, Su Shi 蘇軾, Deng Chun 鄧椿, Chen Yu 陳郁, Wang Yi 王繹, the anonmyous Xuanhe huapu 宣和畫譜, Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫, Tang Zhi 湯穉, Tang Yin 唐寅, Wen Zhengming 文徵明, He Liangjun 何良俊, Wang Luoyu 汪砢玉 or Shen Zongjian 沈宗騫. The compiler selected five texts in which original formulas are described, namely Su Shi's Chuanshenlun 傳神論, Chen Zao's 陳造 Xieshenlun 寫神論, Wang Yi's Xiexiang mijue 寫像秘訣, Shen Jiezhou's 沈芥舟 Lunzhuanshen 論傳神 and Ding Siming's 丁思銘 Xiezhao tigang 寫照提綱. Nearly 40 texts on "secret formulas of perfect painting" are mentioned, and more than a hundred master objects are depicted, ready for testing the reader's own skills. Such were created by Wu Daozi 吳道子, Han Gan 韓幹, Guan Xiu 貫休, Li Gonglin 李公麟, Zhao Mengfu, Shen Zhou 沈周, Wen Zhengming, Chen Hongshou 陳洪綬, Gai Qi 改琦, Ren Xiong 任熊 or Ren Yi 任頤.

The Jieziyuan huapu became soon a very popular book and was often reprinted, but only a few copies of these many editions have survived. During the Guangxu reign 光緒 (1875-1908) it was even impossible to find out how the original publications had looked like. The master Chao Xun 巢勛 (1852-1917) therefore in 1887 and 1888 reproduced the first three collections and republished them. In 1897 he brought out a further edition that included the fourth collection as a lithographic print. The fourth series of this edition consists of six chapters, the first chapter presenting theories on the painting of persons, the second formulas to paint deities, and the third consists of the book Xuezhen mijue. The chapters four and five present examples from famous masters that were copied by Chao Xun, and the sixth chapter shows examples from contemporary painters from Shanghai. Chao Xun's edition is today the most easily available version. In 1927 the Youzheng Press 有正書局 reprinted the third collection. The whole book was republished in 1960 by the People's Press 人民出版社, but only in a one-colour edition. In 1982 the Shanghai Shudian published the first three series, likewise in a non-coloured edition.

Chao Xun (1852-1917), courtesy name Ziyu 子余, style Songdaoren 松道人 or Songhuaguan zhu 松華館主, came from Jiaxing, Zhejiang, and had studied paitning under Zhang Tai 張熊. He professed in landscape painting and flowers and birds and was famous for his paintings of old trees and winter crows in the style of Ni Zan 倪瓚. He has produced a lot of copies of famous Ming and Qing period paintings and left a collection of poems, the Guangxueting zhuxuan ci 光雪廳竹軒詞.

Figures 1-6. Painting modules from the Jieziyuan huapu 芥子園畫譜
Illustrations from the Jieziyuan huapu 芥子園畫譜. From top to bottom: Shapes of various leaves, rocks, persons, a landscape, flowers drawn in dots, bamboo stalks and leaves.

The Jieziyuan huazhuan is a complete overview of the various genres in traditional Chinese painting. Because of the many illustrations included in the book, it became much more popular than any other book on Chinese painting because it could serve as a kind of "textbook" that provided countless examples how to draw the objects appearing in popular-style paintings. It explains the fundamental skills of painting in a very comprehensive and systematic way. The model paintings created by the publishers are very clear and give an excellent overview of the art of painting. They provide ideal templates for the beginner to be copied for training. The Jieziyuan is also a kind of classic analyzing the standards of painting. It furthermore includes critical thoughts by the authors and so takes side with the great masters of the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279), the ancestors of what was to become the standard of traditional Chinese painting.

One of the first translations of the Jieziyuan huazhuan in a Western language was produced by the Italian-born French Raphaël Petrucci in 1918 (?), with the title of Kiai-tseu-yuan houa tchouan: Les enseignements de la peinture du jardin grand comme un grain de moutarde, encyclopédie de la peinture chinoise (Paris: Henri Laurens). An English translation has been published by Mai-mai Sze and Michael J. Hiscox (1956) as The Tao of Painting: A Study of the Ritual Disposition of Chinese Painting (New York: Pantheon; republished several times, e.g. 1992 as The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting by Princeton University Press). There is a complete translation of the first halves of the first two series into German by Hans Daucher (ed., 1987), Der Senfkorngarten: Lehrbuch der chinesischen Malerei (Ravensburg: Maier).

Table 1. Contents of the Jieziyuan huapu 芥子園畫譜

初集 First Series

樹譜 Shupu The book of trees
學淺說 Introduction into painting
設色各法 About the production of colours
樹法 Painting trees
葉法 Painting leaves
夾葉及著色鉤藤法 Painting leaves with contours and coloured leaves, as well as twines
諸家樹法 Master examples of trees
諸家葉樹法 Master examples of trees with leaves
諸家雜樹法 Master examples of miscellaneous trees
諸家松柏樹柳法 Master examples of pines, cypresses and willows
蕉桐花竹葭菼法 Master examples of banana trees, cinnamom trees, bamboo and reed
山石譜 Shanshi pu The book of mountains and stones
石法 Painting stones
皴法 Painting structures on stones
山法 Painting mountains
諸家巒頭法 Master examples of mountain tops
坡逕磯田石壁法 Master examples of slopes, mountain paths, fields, rocks in water, and cliff walls
流泉瀑布石梁法 Master examples of wells, cascades and stone bridges
水雲法 Painting waves and clouds
人物屋宇譜 Renwu wuyu pu The book of persons and buildings
點景人物 Persons in different poses
中號點景人物 Small figures in different positions
極小點景人物 Very small figures in different positions
極寫意人物 Sketchy painting of persons
點景鳥獸式 Animals in different positions
牆屋式 Walls and houses
門逕式 Gates
城郭橋梁法 City walls, settlements and bridges
寺院樓塔法 Pagodas and citygate towers
界畫臺閣法 The architecture of halls
舟檝式 Boats and ships
器具法 Various objects (esp. furniture)
摹倣諸家橫長各式 Broad-size landscape master paintings for imitation
摹倣諸家宮紈式 Round landscape master paintings for imitation
摹倣諸家摺扇式 Fan-shaped landscape master paintings for imitation
增廣名家山水畫譜 Zengguang mingjia shanshui huapu Supplementary landscape paintings by famous masters

第二集 Second series

蘭譜 Lanpu The book of orchids
畫蘭淺說 Introduction into orchid painting
畫蘭起手撇葉式 The method of beginning to paint orchid leaves in one brush stroke
雙鉤葉式 Painting leaves with double outlines
撇葉倒垂式 Suspending leaves painted in one brush stoke
寫花式 Orchid flowers
點心式 Painting the calyx of the flower in several dots
雙鉤花式 Painting flowers with double outlines
寫蕙花式 Painting panicles of flowers
摹倣諸家蘭譜 Master orchid paintings for imitation
竹譜 Zhupu The book of bamboo
畫竹淺說 Introduction into bamboo painting
畫竹起手發竿點節式 The method of beginning to paint stalks and nodes of bamboo
發竿式 Stalks coming out of the earth
生枝式 Fresh-grown twigs
發竿生枝式 Stalks with twigs
布仰葉式 Leaves in upright direction
布偃葉式 Pending leaves
布葉式 Bushels of leaves
結頂式 Tops with leaves
垂梢式 Hanging twigs
橫梢式 Horizontal twigs
出梢式 Twig shoots
安根式 The lower part of bamboo stalks
摹倣諸家竹譜 Master bamboo paintings for imitation
梅譜 Meipu The book of plums
畫梅淺說 Introduction into plum painting
畫梅起手畫梗式 The method of beginning to paint plum twigs
畫梗生枝式 Painting twigs coming out of branches
枝梗留花式 Leaving out space for flowers
老幹生枝留花式 Young twings coming out of old branches, with left-out spaces for flowers
畫根式 Trunks and roots
畫花式 Flowers
畫千葉花式 Multi-petal flowers
花鬚蕊蒂式 Flowers, stamina, buds and calyxes
畫花生枝點芽式 Flowers growing on twigs
花蕚生枝點芽式 Flowers growing on bundles of fresh twigs
全幹生枝添花式 Whole branches on which flowers grow
全樹式 Whole plum trees
摹倣諸家梅譜 Master plum paintings for imitation
菊譜 Jupu The book of chrysanthemums
畫菊淺說 Introduction into chrysanthemum painting
畫菊起手平頂長瓣花 The method of beginning to paint chrysanthemum flowers with a flat surface and long petals
高頂攢瓣花 Flowers with a raised shape and gathered petals
攢頂尖瓣花 Flowers with gathered petals and pointed petals
抱心尖瓣花 Flowers with pointed petals that include the heart of the flower
層頂亞瓣花 Flowers with a staged shape and round petals
攢心細瓣花 Flowers with petals gathered around the heart, and small petals
點墨葉式 Leaves painted as ink blots
鉤勒葉式 Leaved painted as contours
花頭生枝點葉鉤筋式 Methods to paint flowers, stalks and leaves in combination
鉤勒花頭枝葉 Whole flowers on a stalk with leaves painted as contours
摹倣諸家菊譜 Master chrysanthemum paintings for imitation

第三集 Third series

草蟲花卉譜 Caochong huahui pu The book of grasses, insects and flowers
畫花卉淺說 Introduction into the painting of grass and flowers
畫草蟲淺說 Introduction into the painting of grass and insects
草本四瓣五瓣花頭起手式 The method of beginning to paint herbaceous flowers with four or five petals
五瓣六瓣長蒂花頭式 The method of painting long-calyx flowers with five or six petals
缺亞多瓣大花頭式 Large flowers with broad petals
尖圓大瓣蓮花式 Lotus flowers with round, but pointed petals
各種異形花頭式 All different kinds of flowers
草本各花尖葉起手式 The method of beginning to paint all kinds of herbaceous flowers with pointed leaves
團葉式 Roundish leaves
岐葉式 Intended leaves
長葉式 Long leaves
亞葉式 Broad leaves
圓葉式 Round leaves
草本各花梗起手式 The method of beginning to paint stalks of all kinds of herbaceous flowers
根下點綴苔草式 Grass tufts and moss painted with small brushstrokes and dots
點綴草蟲一之四 1-4 Insects and flowers painted with fine brushstrokes
摹倣諸家草蟲花卉譜 Master paintings of grasses and insects for imitation
毛花卉譜 Maohuahui pu The book of birds and plants
畫花卉淺說 Introduction into the painting of grass and flowers
畫翎毛淺說 Introduction into the painting of birds and beasts
設色各法 About the production of colours
木本五瓣花頭起手式 The method of beginning to paint ligneous flowers with four or five petals
六瓣九瓣花頭式 Flours with six to nine petals
多瓣花頭式 Flours with more petals
刺花藤花式 Thorny and climbing plants
木本各花尖葉長葉起手式 The method of beginning to paint all types of ligneous flowers with pointed or long leaves
耐寒厚葉式 Cold-resistant and thick leaves
刺花毛葉式 Thorns and furry leaves
牡丹岐葉式 Intended leaves of peonies
木本各花梗起手式 The method of beginning to paint twigs of trees
點綴翎毛起手式 The method of beginning to paint birds and beasts with fine brushstrokes
踏枝式 Birds standing on twigs
飛立式 Flying birds
并聚式 Groups of birds
水禽式 Aquatic birds
細鉤翅毛起手式 The method of beginning to paint bird feathers with small hooks
翻身飛鬬二式 Birds turning the body and fighting birds
浴波式 Bathing birds
摹倣諸家花卉翎毛譜 Master paintings of grasses and birds for imitation

第四集 Fourth series

人物 Persons
Guo Tong 郭彤 (1993). "Jieziyuan huazhuan 芥子園畫傳", in Zhongguo xiaoxue jiaoxue baike quanshu 中國小學教學百科全書, Vol. Meishu 美術卷 (Shenyang: Shenyang chubanshe), 137.
Shao Qi 邵琦 (1996). "Jieziyuan huazhuan 芥子園畫傳", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Yishu 藝術卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 782.
Xue Yongnian 薛永年 (1992). "Jieziyuan huazhuan 芥子園畫傳", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Meishu 美術 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu), Vol. 1, 369.
Zhang, Gillian Yanzhuang (2020). "Making a Canonical Work: A Cultural History of the Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting, 1679-1949", East Asian Publishing and Society, 10 (1), 73-113.