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Sixteen Flowers

16th century
Xu Wei (Chinese, 1521–1593)

The flowers depicted in this monumental painting are shown blooming simultaneously, but in nature they blossom during different times of the year, hence their association with certain seasons. The peony and hydrangea represent spring; the daylily, pomegranate flower, lotus, and plantain lily correspond to summer; the chrysanthemum and hibiscus typify autumn; and the plum blossom, narcissus, and camelia symbolize winter.

In the accompanying poem, Xu Wei imagines the flowers becoming beautiful ladies and mentions a Daoist practitioner who could magically make flowers bloom out of season.

Object Details

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