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Turning of the Wheel:

The interplay of the Unique and Universal

A Digital Collection of Events from the Humanities Colloquium Series, Turning of the Wheel,
University of Idaho | Moscow, Idaho | 2011-2012

Landscapes of Tang Yin (1470-1523): Example of Taoist Painting

Sound of Water by Gao Zhiwen
from Taoist Music of Green-Ram Abby 2005

Taoism has had a strong influence on Chinese art, especially on landscape painting, as exemplified in the paintings of Tang Yin (1470-1523). Nature is shown as omnipresent, overshadowing the human figure. It exemplifies the Taoist idea that Nature pervades and surrounds us, and that humans are not in control Nature. In honor of the changefulness and mobility of Nature, Taoist artists always leave their works unfinished. This practice also invites the viewer to become a co-creator of the piece, as if a participant within Nature. Even the most elaborate pieces of Taoist art consists merely of brush strokes in varying shades of watered black on white paper. Empty space is critically important, because emptiness has its own kind of fullness. The ink used is "watered" ink, reiterating the meaning and importance of flowing water.

Nothing in the world is softer or weaker than water
Yet nothing is better at overcoming the hard and strong
This is because nothing can replace it
That the weak overcomes the strong
And the soft overcomes the hard
Everybody in the world knows
But cannot put into practice (Tao Te Ching verse 78)


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