Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cheng Man-ch'ng: Hermit Fu Ch'iu

Hermit Fu Ch'iu, signature, ca. 1932

By the year 1932, the thirty year old Cheng Man-ch’ing had completed his self-imposed, three year exile studying classical literature in the Chi Yuan study house of the retired Ching scholar, Ch’ien Ming-shan.
Cheng's 1932 painting album exhibits his continuing development as an artist, poet, and calligrapher, and his search to paint nature scenes as a spontaneous reflection of the Zen mind. Though he still sealed many of his works as the Monk Who Listens to Falling Snow, a new and important sobriquet makes its first appearance in this album; Hermit Fu Ch’iu.
Fu Ch’iu浮丘“Floating Hills,” is the name of several places in China, but more germane, it is the name of a minister to the legendary Yellow Emperor. By assuming this sobriquet, Cheng suggests a change is his artistic/philosophic temperament from Zenism toward Taoism. This coincided with his continuing study of taichi chuan and suggests a fuller appreciation of the alchemical traditions of esoteric Taoist lore.
Another, more personal reason Cheng may have chosen this name was as a pun of his given name, Yüeh. The character, yüehcontains two radicals; ch’iua hill, above shana mountain.Cheng's given name depicts a hill floating above a mountain, though in nature, mountains tower over hills.


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