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Ming herbal (painting): Shrike

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

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Painting of a shrike in 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 shrike (bolao) is also called bolao [different, homophonous, initial graph], bozhao, ju, and yan. It resembles a small quail with a black beak. It is graminivorous and solitary. It calls in summer but is silent in winter, and thus observes and predicts the seasons. A child who is slow to speak will become able to speak fluently, if beaten with a branch on which a shrike has roosted.


Shrike (bolao)


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