Watercolor on silk mounted on rice paper using traditional Chinese technique
54″ x 88″
The third of the quartet of “Springs,” Tanchun (Quest Spring) is Baoyu’s half-sister and daughter of a concubine, A talented poet, she is the founder of the poetry club for inhabitants of Prospect Garden. A shrewd and capable administrator, she proves to be more than an equal to Wang Xifeng in managerial skills. She is also the lone reformer who has foresight enough to introduce measures to shore up the failing economy of the Jia household. And she alone of the young mistresses has the strength of character to take full responsibility for her maids when Prospect Garden is searched for contraband. But despite her superior abilities and accomplishments, the unalterable fact that she was born of a concubine becomes such a burden that Tanchun feels compelled to repeatedly renounce her ties to her biological mother and claim Baoyu’s mother Lady Wang as her own. In the sequel, as suggested by the Main Register and the commentaries, Tanchun marries into an official family far away from home.
Shrewd with high goals. Craves for power while wanting to hide her humble background. Looks with envy at the chair that represents the power of her sister-in-law. Chrysanthemums, the flower of Autumn, represent her endurance. The simplicity of her hair ornament and her garment show she has no time for frills.