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貢性之《題畫蒲萄松鼠》    “Inscription on a Painting of a Squirrel and Grapes” by Gong Xingzhi (fl. 14th century)

貢性之《題畫蒲萄松鼠》    “Inscription on a Painting of a Squirrel and Grapes” by Gong Xingzhi (fl. 14th century) [1]

獧似彌猴㨗似, Nimble as a macaque, agile as a gibbon,

栗梢走過又松。 Off [it] scurries from a chestnut twig, and then onto a pine.

紫萄若使知滋味, Had [it] known the taste of purple grapes,

一日能來一百[2] A hundred times a day [it] would come.


* From Gong Xingzhi 貢性之 (fl. 14th century), Nanhu ji 南湖集, Wenyuange Siku Quanshu 文淵閣四庫全書 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1987) edition, vol. 1164, 2.15b-16a:

[1] The squirrel among vines is a common theme in Chinese visual arts and a symbol of fertility and abundance. This poem is one of the earliest known sources that testify to its appearance on a painting (now lost) in the late Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). The squirrel is not exactly noted for its ability to produce numerous offspring, but the Chinese term songshu 松鼠 reads ‘pine-mouse’ and associates it directly with the mouse, which is noted for fertility. On the origin and symbolic significance of this motif, see Hu Luwen 胡櫨文, ‘Songshu putao de jixiang hanyi ji qi qiyuan” 「松鼠葡萄」的吉祥涵義及其起源, Gugong wenwu yuekan 故宮文物月刊 442 (2020), 4-9.

[2] Red characters rhyme.

An example of the "squirrel and vines" motif; album leaf by Wang Ziyuan 王子元 (Qing dynasty)

Image credit: National Palace Museum, Taipei


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