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Tang Bohu Biography


Tang Yin (1470-1523), better known by his style name Tang Bohu, was born in Changzhou (present Suzhou in Jiangsu Province). He was a well-known calligraphist, painter and litterateur.

Tang Yin was born in a merchant family. He was diligent in study ever since childhood, and won the first place in the Yingtian provincial imperial examination in his youth. However, in the metropolitan examination at the capital city, he was put in jail for involvement in a fraud case. Then he was appointed as a minor official in Zhejiang. He traveled around the country selling his works of calligraphy and painting for living, and won a great fame at that time.

Tang Bohu claimed himself "the First Talented and Romantic Scholar in South China". He was adept in landscape painting, figure painting and flower-and-bird painting. His landscape paintings gracefully portrayed grand and steep mountains in a sparse layout with delicate and fine lines. His figure paintings, mostly about ladies and historical stories, inherited traditions of the Tang Dynasty, employed clear and fine lines and flamboyant and elegant colors, portrayed elegant figures, and were accurate in modeling. He was also good at freehand figure paintings which were terse and full of interest. As to flower-and-bird paintings, he excelled in freehand ink-and-water paintings which were casual, free and graceful. Besides painting, he was also adept in calligraphy. His writing was elegant and meticulous. Moreover, he achieved great success in literature. His poems were chiefly travel records, poems inscribed on paintings and poems of reflection with emotion, which expressed his proud and unrestrained mood as well as his lament on the fickleness of human relations.

Related Links:

(1). Tang Bohu, a Painting Master of Wumen Painting School
(2). The Love Story of Tang Bohu and Qiu Xiang (Flirting Scholar)

The calligraphic writing of Tang Bohu's poem named Song of Peach Blossom Cottage above

The below is the tranlation of Tang Bohu's poem named Song of Peach Blossom Cottage, the most typical and representative poem of Tang Bohu, and it expresses the independent personality and unique perspective on life and world. The translator is Xu Yuanchong, the most famous translator of modern China.



Song of Peach Blossom Cottage - Created by Tang Yin

In the Peach Blossom Land there is a peach blossom plot;
A peach blossom lover lives in Peach Blossom Cot.
The peach blossom lover plants peach trees in days fine;
He sells his peach blossoms for money to buy wine.
When he is not drunk, he would sit before the flowers;
He would lie beneath them to spend his drunken hours.
From day to day half-drunk, half-sober he’d appear;
The peach flowers blossom and fall from year to year.
I would grow old and die among flowers and wine.
Rather than bow before the steed and carriage fine.
The rich may love their dust-raising carriages and bowers;
The poor only enjoy their cups of wine and flowers.
If you compare the poor with the rich low and high,
You’ll find the one on earth, the other in the sky.
If you compare the poor with the carriage and steed,
The poor have leisure while the rich gallop with speed.
Others may pity me so foolish and so mad;
I laugh at them for those who can’t see through are sad.
Can you find where the tombs of gallant heroes stand?
Without flowers or wine they turn into ploughland.

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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