Sung Po-jen’s illustrated book of poetry, Guide to Capturing a Plum Blossom, was published in 1238 in China, making it the very earliest example of an art book. This masterpiece would have been lost entirely if not for a single copy of the 1261 edition that survived the Mongol conquests. This copy spent the next 600 years passed and sold privately from artist to scholar to collector until its importance was finally recognized in the late 1800’s. Drawing (ink on paper) and composition by me, translation by Red Pine.
Po Chü-i (also known as Bai Juyi, depending on the system of translating Chinese to English) was a mid-level government official who survived the turbulent politics of his day and became known for writing poems about his career and daily life. He doesn’t mince words in this short poem, “The Red Cockatoo” (Annam was a province in southern China in Po Chü-i’s day). Thanks to the translator Arthur Waley (1889 – 1966), Po Chü-i’s work has been accessible to western audiences for nearly 100 years now. Photo collage and composition by me. Have a great weekend!