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Ming herbal (painting): Paradise flycatcher


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Credit: Ming herbal (painting): Paradise flycatcher. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Painting of a paradise flycatcher (lianque, Terpsiphone atrocaudata)pin the meticulous (gongbi) style, in colour on silk, from Bencao tupu (Illustrated Herbal). The painted illustrations in Bencao tupu were jointly executed by Zhou Hu and Zhou Xi in 1644 (the final year of the Ming period). The explanatory texts were provided by Zhou Rongqi. The book was not completed: each volume was to have contained 14-15 paintings, but only 29 are extant. Zhou Rongqi writes: The Paradise flycatcher (lianque) is popularly known as tuobailian. It has a small body like a magpie's and a red beak and feet. Its plumage is pure, spotless white, and it has a charming, graceful appearance. It has a long, ribbon-like tail and an emerald crest. Its flesh is sweet in sapor, cold in thermostatic character, and non-poisonous, and has the medicinal effects of tonifying and replenishing Qi and blood. The ancients used it to treat deficit of Qi and blood, and physical frailty and emaciation.

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Paradise flycatcher (lianque, Terpsiphone atrocaudata)

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