Handscroll painting in nine scenes (originally eleven) illustrating the 'Nushi zhen' (Admonitions of the Instructress of the Ladies in the Palace), a text composed by Zhang Hua (c. AD 232-300). It bears many seals and long colophons in the hands of the Huizong and Qianlong emperors (an exterior label was possibly written by the Qianlong emperor too). At the beginning is a fragment of Song dynasty 'kesi' tapestry-woven silk from an old mounting of the handscroll, depicting peonies, followed by a large three-character inscription. The scroll consists of quotations from the text, followed in each case by figure illustrations without any background or at most slight suggestions of setting. At the end of the handscroll was a landscape painting depicting trees by Zou Yigui (now mounted separately [see BM 1903.0408.01b]). Made of ink and colours on silk. Scene seven, for example, shows a court lady advancing towards the Emperor, who repulses her with a gesture of his raised hand. The drapery is portrayed with long, continuos, even brushstrokes; movement is shown through the vitality of the swirling draperies, a continuation of Han dynasty traditions. The facial expressions of the figures have advanced beyond the generalised types of Han figures; the characterisation of facial expression is here closer to portraiture, displaying individual character and emotion. Another scene shows a court concubine at her toilet with a maid. The concubie wears a long-sleeved wrapover robe while the maid has a separate skirt and wrapover top, and an elaborate hair ornament. A bronze mirror can be seen in use on a lacquered wood stand, as well as lacquered toilet boxes. The large lacquer box lid is inlaid with silver.
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