The Four Gentlemen (si junzi,四君子), in Chinese art refer to four plants: the plum (mei,梅), the orchid (lan,蘭), the bamboo (zhu,竹), and the chrysanthemum (ju,菊).
Virtues of Chinese ‘The Four Gentlemen’. Wish you infuse your artwork and life with this noble spirit! ❤️
They have been used in Chinese brush painting for more than a thousand years because these plants’ natural characters express loftiness, righteousness, modesty, purity and perseverance against harsh conditions, amongst other virtues valued in Chinese culture. They account for spring, summer, autumn and winter, which reflect the literati’s perception of the order of time and the meaning of life. Chinese loaded the natural world with their true feelings, thus making the flowers, the trees, the stone etc. become symbols and metaphors of personality.
The PLUM is cold-resistant flowers that bloom in early spring, displaying vibrantly with elegant fragrance. It serves as a metaphor for an indomitable spirit of inner beauty and modesty in adversity.
The ORCHID represents the spring. It is the delicate wild orchids that grow in inaccessible areas and are simple in form. They permeate the valley with a faint fragrance. It signifies humility, nobility, and pure beauty.
The BAMBOO is the symbol of summer. Its hollow trunk means humility and tolerance. It will bend and sway in the severest of gales but does not break, which represent the strength, both physical and mental. Also it means the human values of cultivation and integrity.
The CHRYSANTHEMUM blooms in the cold autumn air and foretells the coming of winter, which symbolizes the virtue to withstand all adversities. It’s generally used to describe the good character of aloof from the rest of the world and the spirit of hermit.
The ‘realm’ of life and art in general is the sublimation of the inner spiritual character into the beauty of eternity and infinity. I am sure that The Four Gentlemen have something in common with your virtues which refract the sparks of your soul. Wish you infuse your artwork and life with this noble spirit!
With much gratitude and love Yue ❤️xx
P.S.1 These works were painted on the slightly early-stage and referred to my teacher’s work. They present ‘The Four Gentlemen’.
P.S.2 The paintings are below. Chinese ink brush painting. The title can be found on the images. Size: 52cm x 100cm. Chinese ink. Chinese pigments. Handmade paper.