Qi Baishi once said, “I never sketched, nor did I dare sketch the king of scaled-creatures--Dragon.” Yet, does Qi Baishi never draw a dragon?
Collected in the Beijing Fine Art Academy are Qi Baishi’s Twelve Zodiacs, of which one piece of artwork is called Dragon in the Clouds. He used a blank space to show the body hidden behind the thick cloud, and two strong ink spots highlight the eyes of this mysterious creature.
The Chinese Zodiac represents 12 animals conveying the beliefs from ancient Chinese people. These animals are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake,Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig in order. It is said that Chinese ancestor arranged the order according to these 12 animals’
behavior and used them to record the time.
Every animal in the 12 zodiacs has a rich cultural background. Take Dragon as an example. It represents the most vibrant time of the day between 7 and 9 o’clock, italso stands forthe sun, the moon and stars. Dragon is not only the totem of Chinese civilization,but also the symbol of imperial authority. Dragon boat competitions commemorate Quyuan; and Chinese holidays are often celebrated with dragon dances.
Through the ages, each animal is beloved by different people. Scholars and craftsmen left a great amount of artworks including paintings, calligraphies, paper cuttings and more according to the zodiacs.People also combine their worship towards the twelve zodiacs with their own course of life which cannot be separated.
Nowadays, zodiacs have become even more popular in mass consumption culture. The Zodiac is a folk religion rooted deep within the blood of Chinese history,spreading and passing from generation to generation.