Immortals Playing Weiqi on Penglai

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Artist: Formerly attributed to Leng Qian (14th century)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, second half of the 16th century -17th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W: 29.6 x 100.2 cm (11 5/8 x 39 7/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 13: Looking Out, Looking In: Art in Late Imperial China


blue-and-green style, China, Daoist Immortals, go, lake, landscape, makimono, pavilion, Penglai, playing, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911)

To 1911
Riu Cheng Chai, Beijing, to 1911 [1]

From 1911 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Riu Cheng Chai in 1911 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 726, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. This object exhibits seals, colophons, or inscriptions that could provide additional information regarding the object’s history; see Curatorial Remarks in the object record for further details.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Riu Cheng Chai (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


According to its title, this short scroll depicts an idyllic scene on the island of Penglai, the mythological home of Daoist divinities and immortals located in the ocean east of China. However, there is little in the painting itself that suggests the grandeur of such an otherworldly paradise. Instead, the elegant but comparatively modest pavilion epitomizes a wealthy scholar's private retreat in the mundane world. In the window of a room overlooking the water, two men in scholar's robes play the board game weiqi, better known by its Japanese name, go. Providing philosophical paradigms for military strategy, the structure of society, and mankind's place in the cosmos, weiqi was considered one of the polite arts with which every true gentleman and lady should be familiar and was commonly portrayed as a pastime among the immortals. Along an adjacent corridor, a woman brings the players a plate of magical peaches, the food of immortality.

On the tree trunk at far left, the painting bears a spurious signature of the shadowy, fourteenth-century Daoist adept, Leng Qian, who was a follower of Li Sixun (651-716/18), originator of the blue-and-green style of landscape painting. In the sixteenth century, Qiu Ying (ca. 1494-1552), the premier Ming dynasty specialist in this style, once copied a scroll that claimed to be Leng's original work, and the current painting, in turn, is a skillfully executed copy of Qiu Ying's reinterpretation of that now-lost composition.

Published References
  • Nakata Yujiro, Fu Shen. O-bei shuzo Chugoku hosho meiseki shu [Masterpieces of Chinese Calligraphy in American and European Collections]. 6 vols., Tokyo, 1981-1983. vol. 6 (1983): pl. 52.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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