Tani Bunchō, Earthly Paradise of Wuling, a handscroll painting


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

This scroll tells the story of the Earthly Paradise of Wuling, commonly known as 'Peach Blossom Spring'. A fisherman discovers an earthly paradise where people live far away from the everyday world, in ignorance of its troubles. It is clear that any attempt to rediscover this paradise will be in vain.

Tani Bunchō (1763-1840) has copied an older scroll by the Chinese Ming dynasty painter Qiu Ying (about 1494-1552). A version of this subject by the Chinese artist in fact survives in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Qiu Ying developed his own work by copying paintings of the Tang dynasty (618-906) and Song dynasty (960-1278), and he often portrays beautiful women standing in brilliant green and blue landscapes. Parts of Bunchomacr;'s work are very close to the original, for example the scene in which the fisherman leaves his boat and enters a cave. Nonetheless, he develops a green and blue style that is more decorative than the Chinese originals, a style in which the pink of the peach blossoms stands out more conspicuously.

At the end of the scroll Bunchō first copies the signature of the Chinese artist: 'Qiu Ying Shifu hua' and his seal 'Shizhou'. He then adds his own seal, 'Tani Bunchō motō in' ('seal of Tani Bunchō, making a copy').


  • Title: Tani Bunchō, Earthly Paradise of Wuling, a handscroll painting
  • Date Created: 1750/1799
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 24.60cm; Width: 502.90cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: literature
  • Registration number: 1980,0225,0.4
  • Production place: Painted in Japan
  • Producer: Painted by Buncho, Tani. After Qiu Ying
  • Period/culture: Edo Period
  • Material: silk
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Naumann, Klaus. Previous owner/ex-collection Matsunaga, Zensaburo

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