Notes on Culture & Antique Art, Ethnic Decor & Vintage Fashion | Wovensouls Art Gallery
This is one of the set of 4 paintings that are very rare with two characeteristics that make them unique.
First, the blue/green background is seen only in a handful of Yao ceremonial paintings. These are highly prized finds for their rarity as well as their aesthetic value.
Second, the painting style is very unique – there are characters on a plain background without any embellishment of the background. These are works of ‘naive’ art. It could be that he had not yet come within the folds of influence of the styles that were popular elsewhere and his personal style remained uncorrupted by the ‘popular’ view. As a result the artist we see the stamp of his own soul on the painting, rather than just that of his ethnic group. And it is this soul-stamp that makes this set of 4 pieces extremely charming.
The Subject: SHENNONG – GOD OF AGRICULTURE
Vietnamese Folk Interpretation
This painting pays tribute to Shennong, a god of agriculture and herbal drugs. He has been credited with inventions such as the hoe and plow and for methods such as using boiled horse urine to preserve seeds. In medicine, Shennong is said to have tasted hundreds of herbs to test their medical value and is credited with identifying hundreds of medicines by personally testing their properties, which was crucial to the development of Traditional Chinese medicine. In fact, he is said to have died as a result of testing a medicine and this added to his legend and the high regard in which he is held.
Similar to 1046, 1048 & 1049
UPDATE: I learnt from a reader that these are Cao Lan paintings from Vietnam.
Legend holds that Shennong had a transparent body, and thus could see the effects of different plants and herbs on himself. Shennong is venerated as the Father of Chinese medicine. He is also believed to have introduced the technique of acupuncture.
The piece comes from the north of Vietnam from ethnic minorities (Yao, Tay, Nung, Cao Lan, San Chi) whose belief system often mixes Daoism with elements of Buddhism, Confucianism and animism.
Has inscription on the side.
It has wear and fading with some tears at the edges.
26.5 x 12 inches
Estimated to be from the mid 1900s
This item has spent a lifetime being used for the purpose of its creation with the original artist/user. Signs of this life lived heartily may be present on the piece in the form of stains, thread loss, loose threads, holes, tears, color run and other imperfections. Therefore the condition must be assumed to be “not” perfect. More photos of such imperfections will be provided on request.