Fan Painting with Flowering Plum Blossoms

Mei Sheng (Chinese, active late 19th-20th century)
Late 19th-early 20th century
Ink on paper
Work : 20 1/4 x 9 1/2 in. (51.43 x 24.13 cm)
Credit Line
Hope College Collection
Object Number

Because they blossom early in the year while the weather is still cold, flowering plums, apricots, cherries and other species of the prunus family were considered symbols of hardiness and rejuvenation in traditional Chinese culture. Their twisted, gnarled branches also symbolized a person who perseveres and is productive even in hard times. This image of blossoming prunus branches is painted on the face of what was once a folding fan. Fans were an essential accessory for both wealthy and middle-class men and women in late imperial China. Fans were used not only to create a cooling breeze, but also to signify a person’s wealth and status and many people owned multiple fans for use in different seasons and on different occasions. The prunus blossom design on this fan would have made it especially appropriate for use during the Spring Festival and the early months of the traditional Chinese lunar year.

Object Type