The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Chinese Art from the Sui to the Yuan Dynasties, C. 589–1368

Who was Guan Daosheng?

Guan Doasheng was a renowned female calligrapher, painter, and poet working during the Yuan Dynasty. She was famous for her paintings of bamboo plants. Bamboo was an important symbol in Chinese art because the plant’s branches and leaves are reminiscent of calligraphy, and because bamboo is flexible under pressure—it will bend, but not break. Guan Daosheng’s handscroll, Ten Thousand Bamboo Poles in Cloudy Mist, is the earliest surviving example of work done by a woman in China. In this painting, delicate bamboo leaves are lush and meticulously depicted, while the firm shoots are thought to represent faithfulness and fidelity.


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