Four Gentlemen

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Four Gentlemen

In Chinese art, the Four Gentlemen or Four Noble Ones (Chinese: 四君子; pinyin: Sì Jūnzǐ)," is a collective term referring to four plants: the plum blossom, the orchid, the bamboo, and the chrysanthemum.[1][2] The term compares the four plants to Confucian junzi, or "gentlemen." They are commonly depicted in bird-and-flower paintings, a broad category of classical Chinese art, and they are particularly popular subjects for ink and wash painting.

The Four Gentlemen are a recurring theme in art because of their long history of symbolism for traditional Chinese virtues such as uprightness, purity, humility, perseverance against harsh conditions. Each of them represent a different season (the plum blossom for winter, the orchid for spring, the bamboo for summer, and the chrysanthemum for autumn), the four are used to depict the unfolding of the seasons through the year.

The Four Gentlemen have been used in Chinese painting since the time of the Song dynasty (960–1279) and were later adopted elsewhere in East Asia by artists in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.


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  1. ^ "Orchids: The Four Gentlemen" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
  2. ^ Symbolism in Brush Painting

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