Landscape of Mount Putuo
Peng Wei has painted a ghostly image of a Buddhist pilgrimage site within the unconventional frame of an ancient robe of an elite Han Chinese woman. The painting, swept with images both religious and secular, visually transports us on a spiritual journey toward the precarious peaks of the sacred mountain. Peng’s painting reveals not only her engagement with the female body as a site where representations of identity are inscribed but also her sense of nostalgia toward China’s collective history, in light of the impact of globalization upon its cultural heritage.
Mount Putuo is located on an island southeast of Shanghai, in Zhejiang province. It is one of four sacred mountains in Chinese Buddhism and is strongly associated with Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion, one of the most popular deities. Beginning about the twelfth century in China, Guanyin was depicted as female, unlike the earlier South Asian male prototype of the deity. As a female bodhisattva, Guanyin gained additional powers: relieving suffering, granting children, and acting as a patron of mothers and seafarers.
In this painting, people of different economic classes arrive in both large and small boats, docking at the base of the mountain and climbing up steps leading to the shore. They stroll past restaurants and shops; some pilgrims with backpacks climb steep slopes while elite Confucian scholar-bureaucrats ride horses to reach the temple compounds and a soaring pagoda nestled among the mountain cliffs. In the top right, farmers carry overloaded baskets on their backs as they climb the jagged mountain steps to rice fields surrounded by lush bamboo groves and eucalyptus trees. Rippling mountain peaks and swirling waves of water enhance the turbulence of the spiritual landscape. The figures depicted in the religious narrative are primarily male, of different economic and social classes.
Ink and colors on silk
57 7/8 x 82 11/16 in. (147 x 210 cm)
with cords and knobs: 60 1/4 × 84 in. (153 × 213.4 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Mrs. Roscoe C.E. Brown, Dr. Martin E. Frankel, Mr. and Mrs. Maxime L. Hermanos, and Chi Tiew-lui, by exchange
Landscape depicting the Buddhist pilgrimage site at Mt. Putuo, on an island outside of Shanghai, painted within the confines of the silhouette of a woman's robe. The shape of the robe resembles that of ancient garments worn in the Han dynasty. The landscape depicts a variety of visitors to the pilgrimage site, as well as the businesses that cater to them, and farmers working the fields on the mountain. The painting is displayed as a hanging scroll, but it is not mounted in the traditional manner. Rather, the diaphonous silk is unbacked so it is semi-transparent, and the dowels at the top and bottom are attached directly to the painting ground.
This item is not on view
Peng Wei (Chinese, born 1974). Landscape of Mount Putuo, 2007. Ink and colors on silk, 57 7/8 x 82 11/16 in. (147 x 210 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Roscoe C.E. Brown, Dr. Martin E. Frankel, Mr. and Mrs. Maxime L. Hermanos, and Chi Tiew-lui, by exchange, 2014.55. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: , 2014.55_PS9.jpg)
overall, 2014.55_PS9.jpg., 2019
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© Wei Peng
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