Zhongshan Going on Excursion

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Artist: Gong Kai 龔開 (1222-1307)
Historical period(s)
Yuan dynasty, late 13th-early 14th century
Ink on paper
H x W: 32.8 x 169.5 cm (12 15/16 x 66 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


baimiao style, China, demon, family, travel, Yuan dynasty (1279 - 1368), Zhong Kui
Provenance research underway.

The artist's inscription explains that this handscroll depicts the legendary hero Zhong Kui, known as the Demon Queller, setting out on a hunting exhibition with his sister. According to legend, when Emperor Xuanzong (reigned 712-56) fell ill with fever, he dreamt that a small demon broke into the palace. Suddenly, a large man calling himself Zhong Kui appeared, attacked the demon, and devoured it; when the emperor awoke, his illness had miraculously vanished. The emperor summoned a court painter to make a portrait of the figure in his dream, and the painting was distributed throughout the empire as a talisman to expel harmful spirits. By the tenth century, other popular legends and practices began to accrue around the figure of Zhong Kui; for example, he acquired both a wife and younger sister. 

In Gong Kai's humorous and imaginative painting, Zhong Kui and his sister are shown riding in sedan chairs. A retinue of slave-demons accompany them and carry Zhong Kui's sword, bundles of household goods, pots of wine, and smaller demons they have captured.

To learn more about this and similar objects, visit http://www.asia.si.edu/SongYuan/default.asp Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton. "画中人 上海书画出版社." Chinese Figure Painting. Shanghai, China. .
  • Chung-kuo shu hua [Chinese Painting]. Taipei. vol. 1: p. 64.
  • Bangda Xu. Chung-kuo hui hua shih t'u lu. Shanghai. pl. 146.
  • 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. 3: pls. 6-10.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1 (1982 ed.): pp. 202-203.
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles. 7 vols., New York and London, 1956-1958. vol. 3: pl. 323.
  • Osvald Siren. Kinas Konst Under Tre Artusenden. 2 vols., Stockholm, 1942-1943. vol. 2: fig. 404.
  • Laurence Sickman, Alexander Coburn Soper. The Art and Architecture of China. The Pelican History of Art London and Baltimore. pl. 110a.
  • Richard von Glahn. The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture. Berkeley. fig. 17.
  • Great Drawings of All Time. 4 vols., New York. vol. 4: pl. 893.
  • Hai wai i chen [Chinese Art in Overseas Collections]. Taipei, 1985. vol. 1, no. 77.
  • Robert Hans van Gulik. Chinese Pictorial Art as Viewed by the Connoisseur: Notes on the Means and Methods of Traditional Chinese Connoisseurship of Pictorial Art, Based Upon a Study of the Art of Mounting Scrolls in China and Japan.
    . Orientale Roma, vol. 19 Rome. opp. p. 127, fig. 62.
  • Derek Gillman. The Idea of Cultural Heritage. Leicester, UK. figs. 14, 15.
  • Wai ta i shu chuan t'ung t'u lu [The Great Heritage of Chinese Art in Private Collections Museums all over the World]. multi-volumed, Shanghai. vol. 2: pls. 10, 11.
  • Song Dynasty Paintings Project. multi-volumed, . .
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 43, vol. 1: p. 43.
  • Stephen Little. The Demon Queller and the Art of Qiu Ying (Ch'iu Ying). vol. 46, no. 1/2 Washington and Zurich. pp. 5-80, fig. 26.
  • Itakura Seitetsu. 正統派の隠し球ともう一つのゆるかわ大国. Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, August 2019. pp. 13, 50-51.
  • Katharine P. Burnett. Shaping Chinese Art History: Pang Yuanji and His Painting Collection. Cambria Sinophone World Series Amherst, New York, September 28, 2020. p. 28, fig. 1.
  • Whitney N. Morgan. Museum Accessions. vol. 11, no. 1 New York, January 1939. pp. 38, 40.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 49.
  • Peter Sturman. Sung Loyalist Calligraphy in the Early Years of the Yuan Dynasty. vol. 19, no. 4 Taipei. pp. 79-86, fig. 20-21, 21a.
  • Judith Burling, Arthur H. Burling. Chinese Art. New York. p. 113.
  • Thomas Lawton. Chinese Figure Painting. Exh. cat. Washington, 1973. cat. 35, pp. 142-149.
  • T'ing-k'uan Wen. Man hua su ku: Caricatures of Old Times. Mei shu shih lun ts'ung k'an, no. 2 Peking. p. 144.
  • Peter Sturman.
    Confronting Dynastic Change: Painting after Mongol Reunification of North and South China
    . no. 35 Cambridge, Massachusetts. pp. 155-157, 159-163, fig. 6, 8.
  • The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty. Exh. cat. London and New Haven, September 28 - January 2, 2010. pp. 185-186, fig. 205.
  • Patricia Buckley Ebrey. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China., 3rd Edition. Cambridge, United Kingdom, September 1, 2022. p. 189.
  • Dagny Carter. Four Thousand Years of China's Art. New York. p. 234.
  • Shou-Chien Shih. From Style to Huayi: Ruminating on Chinese Art History. Taipei, Taiwan. pp.254-255, fig. 161.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy
Google Cultural Institute
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