An Ho: Lin Daiyu

LinDaiyuLin Daiyu
An Ho
1993
Watercolor on silk mounted on rice paper using traditional Chinese technique
54″ x 88″

A maternal first cousin to Dream of the Red Chamber hero Jia Baoyu, Lin Daiyu lost both her parents and lived with his family in the Rong Mansion as a poor relation. As the Crimson Pearl Plant incarnate she has followed Baoyu’s avatar the Divine Stone Page from the Land of Disillusionment to earth to repay a debt of gratitude she owed him with tears. As such, she shares with Baoyu a special affinity that is rooted in the promise of a union of wood and stone. The yu (jade) in her name is also the same character as the yu in Baoyu’s. Physically frail and given to melancholy, she eventually falls victim to consumption. But her sensitivity and emotional intensity also empowers her to excel in poetry making. Her very lack of material fortune and family backing, however, makes her an undesirable match for Baoyu. Initially jealous of Xue Baochai in the beginning, she nevertheless becomes her fast friend after Baoyu declares his love for her. She is the only one close to Baoyu who does not pressure him to study for the civil service examinations and seek a career in government. She is also the only one who sees fit to instruct a maid in the art of poetry making. All available textual evidence indicates that she dies broken-hearted in the end without consummating her love with Baoyu in marriage.

LinDaiyu-CutawayARTIST’S COMMENTARY

Sadness with deep emotions. Heavily draped clothes and twisted handkerchief show her emotional insecurity. Her Jadeite “crane-cloud” hair ornament, the bamboo on her collar and her skirt, and the orchid on her shawl all represent her high integrity.