One of six hanging scrolls in a series depicting the landscape of Ali Mountain, trees and hillside are shown below calligraphic text. The artist uses alternating wet ink washes for the misty clouds and dry flying-brushes for the large pine trees
Located in middle-Taiwan, the Ali Mountain is one of the most famous scenic landmarks among Taiwan’s National Parks. Ali Mountain is best known for the beauty of the vast “cloud sea” surrounding the mountain peaks and the towering “divine giant trees” found amid the ridges and valley of the mountain.
The painting’s format, a traditional mounting style called “the screen of connected scenes” or “sea curtain”, gives the artist the advantage of representing a panoramic view of monumental landscapes. Each of six individual pieces was first painted on the ground in the artist’s studio with an overall composition envisioned in the artist’s mind. Then, the inscriptions were added on the top, (inscribed by the artist himself in this case), and finally the six paintings were mounted into the current format.
Inscribed is a piece of classic Song lyrics (the most popular in the Song dynasty), written in calligraphy style running script. The poetic lines describe a forested mountain filled with vigorous energies. Yet the atmosphere is melancholic. The vast landscape appears dream-like, symbolically representing the lost homeland of Chang and his peer generation-- mainland China-- that awaits its recovery from the Chinese Communists. The inscription thus connects the painting’s otherwise natural scenery to the advocated political theme of the Nationalist government’s rule in Taiwan in 1960s.
In the foreground, a group of several figures, dressed in graeco-roman clothing, surround a man lying in bed. The setting has classical architectural components such as columns and pediments and a large stone sundial in the upper left corner. The figures are painted in bright colors (blue, white, gold and red) but the rest of the composition is painted in muted colors (gray, brown, dark green). Most figures are gazing up at the sundial.
This narrative painting depicts a scene from the Old Testament (2 Kings 20:1-11) account of the illness and cure of Hezekiah, 13th King of Judah. After being told by the prophet Isaiah that he will die, Hezekiah prays to God. Isaiah receives word from God that the king will recover in 3 days and be granted 15 more years of life. As a sign that this will happen, God causes the shadow of the sun on the sundial to go backwards.
In this painting, a group of men are gathered around the bed where King Hezekiah lies ill. Three men are talking to each other, but the rest, including the king, are staring and gesturing toward a large sundial in the upper left corner of the scene. The prophet Isaiah, in a white cloak, stands at the top of the stairs, above the group.
Although the subject matter is a biblical story, the setting and clothing of the figures is Graeco-Roman.
Goldweight in the shape of a knife, with a short handle set between two protrusions, giving way to a longer blade.
Among the Akan-speaking peoples of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, gold dust was used as a form of currency until the end of the 19th century, and merchants used diverse kinds of weights to weigh out measures of gold dust. Among these gold weights, the representation of all kinds of weaponry is very common, especially knives, such as in this example. Knives were originally used as weapons and as instruments of the executioner, and were also frequently worn on cartridge belts. However, by the time knives and other weaponry became frequent forms for gold weights, they were no longer in active use for fighting or war activities.
Goldweight in the shape of an axe, with a smooth handle attached to a rounded top with an inserted, triangular blade.
Farming tools are a rather common motif among figurative gold weights. Akan-speaking peoples in what are now Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire have used and produced weights to weigh amounts of gold dust for mercantile transactions from at least the 15th century onwards. This example shows an axe in the form that is typical for the Asante region: a handle, which is ticker at one end, through which an iron blade is mounted. Axes like these were used to fell of trees and chop wood.
Figurative gold weights were sometimes related to one or more of the many proverbs that have play a prominent role in Asante (and related Akan) language and culture. However, it is often hard to tell whether an individual weight was intended to signify a proverb or not, and if so, which one, or how this particular proverb would have been understood by the speakers and listeners in a specific context. Thus, it might be that this example of a gold weight in the shape of an axe was intended to evoke the proverb "no matter what the dispute, it must be settled by arbitration, not an axe," but we do not know for sure that it was always used or understood in this way. In fact, an incident where the King of the Asante sent a golden axe to the British colonial rulers in 1881 shows that the British were not sure how to take the symbolism of the axe or the proverbs associated with it-- did it refer to war or to peace?
A woman in the center being crowned. There are angels surrounding her. Christ on a thrown is blessing her.
This was a popular theme in religious Christian imagery from the 13th to the early 16th centuries. This work depicts a heavenly space where a throned Christ is blessing the Virgin Mary, who is being crowned. In other variations, Christ is shown placing the crown on the head of the Virgin. Though this is not a scene described in the Christian Bible's New Testiment, it has been a popular story since the early 12th century when the idea of that the Virgin was the "Queen of Heaven."
A portrait of a man sitting down. Shown in military dress, he sits with his legs crossed and is painted from the front. His coat is decorated with a medal and embellished with gold and fur trimmings. Although he is painted seated, there is nothing but a dark shadow beneath him. Underneath the portrait reads "Esterhazy".
An Asante proverb states, "The cobra that blocks the path is going his own way, yet people run away when they see him." According to some informants, this means that once you get a bad reputation, nobody will trust you even when you mean no harm.
The link between the above proverb and the gold weight under consideration here is an example of the "oral-visual nexus" that pervades the cultures of the various Akan-speaking peoples of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. Proverbs are indeed an important part of many Akan cultures, and the proper use of proverbs in speech is a crucial skill in order to be considered a serious or wise person. Yet the use and interpretation of a proverb depends not just on knowing its meaning, but on its relevance and particular nuance in the context of its use as well. The problem of ascribing a singular meaning becomes confounded in the case of gold weights or other objects embodying particular proverbs. In fact, the one-on-one relationship between a weight and a proverb is rare, especially in case of single-subject weights, such as this snake (detailed scenes involving two or more objects are often easier to link unambiguously to a particular proverb).
Goldweight in the shape of a square base, with a geometric pattern derived from a swastika form.
The shape known as swastika in the West, and variations of this form, is a common motif on the goldweights (and other objects) used and produced by Akan-speaking peoples since the 15th century. Informants from contemporary Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire give a number of interpretations for this form. It is sometimes called "asosa," or "monkey's hand," because of its supposed resemblance to the footprint of the colubus monkey. Alternatively, the form can be called "dindje blafou," or "crossed crocodiles," which refers to the idea that it is a stylized rendering of a common Akan motif and proverb: two crocodiles sharing one stomach. Finally, informants and scholars have interpreted the swastika-form and its derivatives as variations of the bow-armed cross, referred to as "nkyinkyim," which is also used as a shaved hairstyle by the maidservants of a queen-mother.
A group of figures stand on the bow of a boat at the left. Behind and to the left are buildings and steps leading up to a quay with people gathered along the railings. Behind the figures and to the right are the numerous masts of ships lined side by side, all containing figures while in the distance beyond are the arches of a bridge.
Billingsgate was a district in London with a large and prosperous fish market.