1642 - 1707

Shitao or Shi Tao, born into the Ming dynasty imperial clan as Zhu Ruoji, was Chinese Buddhist monk, calligrapher, and landscape painter during the early Qing Dynasty.
Born in the Quanzhou County in Guangxi province, Shitao was a member of the royal house descended from the elder brother of Zhu Yuanzhang. He narrowly avoided catastrophe in 1644 when the Ming Dynasty fell to invading Manchus and civil rebellion. Having escaped by chance from the fate to which his lineage would have assigned him, He assumed the name Yuanji Shitao no later than 1651 when he became a Buddhist monk.
He moved from Wuchang, where he began his religious instruction, to Anhui in the 1660s. Throughout the 1680s he lived in Nanjing and Yangzhou, and in 1690 he moved to Beijing to find patronage for his promotion within the monastic system. Frustrated by his failure to find a patron, Shitao converted to Daoism in 1693 and returned to Yangzhou where he remained until his death in 1707. In his late years, he is said to have greeted Kangxi Emperor visiting Yangzhou. Geyuan Garden grows Chinese bamboo variations that Shitao himself loved.
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