This sumie is a kind of rebus made with 4 Chinese characters borrowed from the Great Seal script.
This script was used before the unification of China by Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BC), the first Emperor of China.
Presentation of the sumie : a calligraphy and a rebus
Seeing the young fugitive woman
A sumie by LE Xiao Long
- Dimensions: 31,5 cm × 31,5 cm frame included
- Materials: Ink also known as Sumi-e on paper
First calligraphy of the sumie
The first character on the top is the Chinese character
見 (jian), which means "to
Despite the evolution of this Chinese character, looking at the way to write it today, it is easy to recognise it. Don't you ?
Second calligraphy of the sumie
The second one, on the right, which stresses the shoulder, is the Chinese character
女 (nü) meaning "woman".
May be it is a little bit hard to you to see the link between these two characters separated by centuries.
It's right ! Sometimes it's hard but the best way to understand is not to look at them like objects or writings.
When I have a look on oldest to today characters, I imagine they are alive.
Try to imagine you are watching a tree growing, contemplate them and let your imagination working freely.
An other woman's portrait linked to chinese calligraphy
To help your mind to feel this evolution, please, just a look on this other sumie entitled Woman.
The hair of this portrait is made up of three Chinese characters. All, without exception, designate the term of woman
女 (nü). This is the
evolution of this Chinese character over the centuries.
On the left, this is the Chinese character currently used in China, the central character was used before the unification of China (Great Seal script) and the last character, on the right, comes from the Small Seal script (after the unification of China - 221 BC).
Thrid calligraphy of the sumie
Let's back to the escaping woman !
The third character used on this ink, which gives the impression of the lower back, is
少 (shao) which, in the
fourth tone, means "young".
Remember the tree I told you before ! Imagine the wind through the branches. You feel it now !
Movement is life, fixity is death.
Fourth calligraphy of the sumie
The last, with feminine curves, is the Chinese character
亡 (wang) which means fugitive or escape.
If you compare the four Chinese characters of this ink with those in the explanation or the red ones added on the different part of this ink, you will have a brief overview of the evolution of writing in China.
I just wanted to share with you my passion for Chinese characters, this living forest of words and ideas.