Watercolor on silk mounted on rice paper using traditional Chinese technique
54″ x 88″
The youngest of Dream of the Red Chamber hero Baoyu’s female cousins, Xichun (Cherish Spring) is the fourth of the quartet of “Springs.” She was born into the Ning branch of the Jia family. Because her mother died when she was still a child, Xichun was taken by Baoyu’s mother Lady Wang to the Rong Mansion and was brought up there in the company of her older cousins. In spite of her tender age, however, she reveals a definite preference for the religious order early in the novel. This detached view of life manifests itself most clearly when the Jia fortune begins to show signs of decline and a search of her apartment discovers that one of her maids have smuggled goods into the Prospect Garden against house rules. Xichun immediately dismisses the maid and renounces all her ties to her paternal family. Not much of a poet, she appears to be a rather skillful painter and was entrusted by the Matriarch with the task of making a painting of the garden. In the sequel, she becomes like Miaoyu an “unshaved nun” after Miaoyu is kidnapped.
Pessimistic and withdrawn, she finds relief in the meditative and spiritual world of religion. Her lotus hair ornament is a symbol of purity, since the flower rises unblemished through muddy water. The crane symbolizes her desire for longevity in her spiritual life.