The Plum Blossom


The plum blossom and bamboo sometimes are paired as friends in Chinese culture. Both are symbols of purity and steadfastness. This pairing is reflected in this late 17th-early 18th century painting and the accompanying poem. He Shikun was a Ming-dynasty figure who is identified in two local gazetteers as being from Xinhui, in Guangdong. The inscription here, however, identifies him as being from Wuyang, an old name for Guangzhou, to the north of Xinhui. In 1646, in the chaotic weeks before Xinhui surrendered to the Qing dynasty forces that had taken Guangzhou, He Shikun and other members of the local elite led the townspeople in holding off a siege by a band of troops fighting to restore Ming rule. The Ming dynasty ruled China from 1368 until 1644, when it fell to the invading Manchus, who established the Qing dynasty. However, scattered Ming resistance to Manchu rule persisted in southern China until the 1660s.

Last updated: September 29, 2014