Southern and Northern schools
by Dong Qichang

There were two schools in Zen Buddhism during mediaeval times. There are two schools of painting formed during the same period, which were Southern and Northern schools in correspondence with Zen, not those whereabouts.

Northern school followed the lead of colored landscape paintings by Li Sixun and his son. Those who carried on this style were Zhao Gan and Four Southern Song Masters. Southern school followed the lead of Wang Wei, who developed wash techniques, discarding old-fashioned linear definition. Those who carried on this style were Song and Yuan masters. Southern School flourished just as Southern Zen had many great masters. Meanwhile Northern School faded away.

Wang Wei said “Grasp nature's beauties when it reveals itself,” which lays bare quintessence of Southern approach.

Dong Qichang (1555 - 1636)
ink on rice paper

Essays on Chinese painting

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