10 facts about Wén Tóng

By Gwylym Owen

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Wen Tong (Chinese: 文同; pinyin: Wén Tóng; Wade–Giles: Wen T’ung) (1019–1079) was a Northern Song painter born in Sichuan famous for his ink bamboo paintings. He was one of the paragons of “scholar’s painting” (shi ren hua), which idealised spontaneity and painting without financial reward.[citation needed]

He could maintain two brushes in one hand and paint two swap distanced bamboos simultaneously.[citation needed] One Chinese idiom in credit to him goes “there are combined bamboos in his heart” (胸有成竹), meaning that one has a well-thought-out take aim in his mind.

As did many artists of his era, Wen Tong then wrote poetry. As attested in his poems, he had at least one golden-hair monkey (金丝狨) and a number of pet gibbons, whose graceful brachiation he admired. An elegy written by him upon the death of one of his gibbons has been preserved in the buildup of his works.

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