Friday, 14 August 2015

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The Magic Paintbrush

A few days ago I was reminded of a book I read as a child about a Chinese man who painted pictures that came to life.  I remembered these amazing pictures of birds and dragons, and the key to the story, that the paintings only came to life when the last brush stroke left the paper.  The story touched me at the time, it sounded enigmatic to me while I remembered it. 

So my Google search took me first to Wu Daozi an artist of the Chinese Tang Dynasty:

"Wu traveled widely and created murals in Buddhist and Daoist temples. Wu also drew mountains, rivers, flowers, birds. No authentic works are extant, though some exist in later copies or stone carvings."

His name came up in a search because he was such an accomplished painter, there are legends of his paintings coming to life. One such story is about a dragon or group of dragons that were so lifelike they looked like they moved around on the paper. Wu Daozi was said to have painted in the style of Chang Seng Yu, whose dragons also came to life. Both Chang Seng Yu and Wu Daozi along with Ku K'ai-chih and Lu T'an-wei are said to be the four great masters of Chinese Painting.

Wu Daozi's painting of a dragon comes to life.

Next to come up in my search was, Han Gan, again of the Tang Dynasty.  His legend surrounds that of his horse paintings coming to life, such was their beauty and spirit. 

Night-Shining White

 These legends were alluding to the story I had read, they were close, but none of them were children's stories! Then I came across the Chinese story of Ma Liang and the Magic Paint Bush, I felt like I was getting closer, but this story didn't mention the paintings coming to life after the last brush stroke, and I was sure this was part of the story.

Finally I struck on Magic Paint Brush gold with an image search, and here were the images I remembered from my childhood, but what was the book?  Ha ha ... chuckle I did!

The Magic Paintbrush

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