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In 1915, scholars Lai Jixi and Chen Botao fought vigorously for the preservation of Sung Wong Toi against a government proposal to develop the area. After rounds of negotiation, the government agreed to set apart a zone for the Southern Song heritage. With donationfrom business tycoon Li Ruiqin, a protective stone railing around the Sung Wong Toi boulder, stone trail, and paifang were built. The construction of this local tourist spot served to connect traditional Chinese culture to this British colony.

After a trip to Sung Wong Toi with his friend, Wu Meihe painted the ancient heritage in the form of a pastoral scene. The artist transformed his trip into an imaginary expedition, with all trees and grass rendered in traditional methods. It leads the viewer on a journey from Ma Tau Chung village down south, passing a bridge then the tomb of a princess, then all the way to the village where emperors Zhao Shi and Zhao Bing temporarily stayed, where the viewer can let his or her gaze linger. As the viewer follows the mountain trail, he or she meets the paifang that leads to a path further up the hill that runs all the way to the top of the boulder. For scholars from mainland China who were familiar with classical studies, Sung Wong Toi was not only a symbol of the orthodox relationship between Hong Kong and dynasties of ancient China, but also a statement that cultural lineage could continue despite changes in rulership. This painting of Sung Wong Toi expresses the yearning of the Chinese literati to pass on tradition during their diaspora.

Details

  • Title: Sung Wong Toi
  • Creator: Wu Meihe (?–1943)
  • Date Created: Dated 1928
  • Physical Dimensions: 28.1 cm × 32.9 cm
  • Provenance: Gift of Bei Shan Tang
  • Type: Painting; Square scroll, Hong Kong Landscapes
  • Rights: Collection of Art Museum, CUHK
  • Medium: Ink on paper
  • Accession number: 2001.0092

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