The Return of Cai Wenji, dated 1835 or 1895


Fan leaf, ink and colour on paper,

Signed and inscribed: farmer from Yutian, in the beginning of the autumn in the yiwei year (1835 or 1895)

Inscribed: 'it is cold in the tent at the end of autumn' (from one of her poems named 'Poem of Sorrow and Anger)

18 x 53.5 cm

Cai Wenji (177-250) was a female poet en musician in the late Han dynasty.
During an attack by the Xiongnu she was kidnapped and spent the following years as a captive and concubine in the northern part of China (now Mongolia).

The painting shows her seated in her Xiongnu tent holding an infant. 
It is one of the scenes from a poem 'Eigjteen Songs of a Nomad Flute' by the 8th century poet Liu Shang, which tells the story of Cai Wenji.


Paintings > Chinese Paintings