What occupies the center of the image is a bent branch of a plum blossom tree, on which perches a pair of Chinese bulbuls, leaning against each other. Several yellow plum blossoms are blooming, seemingly to be exuding refreshing and soothing fragrance. Such a daily scene reproduced through meticulous and refined work conveys the pleasure of daily life.
While the bulbuls and orchid blossoms were all embroidered directly with light-color threads, the branches of the plum tree were outlined first with black thin silk yarns and then rendered in light-color threads. The flowers crafted in this way are beautiful but not gaudy, serving as felicitous ornaments to the landscape which is plain but never mediocre. On the lower left corner there is a poem inscribed by the painter by his “slender golden” script, which conveys that, “The bulbuls sit on the branch at ease in the company of the fragrant plum blossoms. They’ve promised that they will always be there for each other until the end of the world.” The artist employed expressive words, in addition to visual elements, to illustrate the composure of the birds and the blossoming of the flowers.
Chinese bulbuls have been taken as a symbol for loyal love between lovers or friends, as their white feathers on the head coincide with the ancient Chinese saying of “being likeminded until the hair turns white”. The painter endowed his longing for an ideal serene world accompanied by loyal like-minds via the connotations of plants and animals in nature such as plum blossoms, bulbuls, etc. This piece is yet another testimony to the brilliant work that the oriental embroidery technique has done in reproducing classic Chinese paintings.