Enjoying Sceneries without Physically Travelling
Artists often admire natural scenery beholding landscape paintings rather than traveling to actual spots. When the Southern Dynasty painter Zong Bing (375-443), due to illness in old age, could no longer tour great mountains and rivers, he painted the landscapes he had once seen and then hung the works on the wall, thus fulfilling his dream of seeing those beautiful sights again. This term illustrates the tradition of loving mountains and rivers among ancient literati, affirms the significance of art to life, and promotes the art of painting.
Zong Bing returned to Jiangling to convalesce. With a sigh he said, “I’m old and sick, so touring famous mountains and rivers is now quite beyond me. What I should do is to unleash my soul and look inwardly to seek truth. I can look at landscape paintings even when lying in bed, as if I were actually there.” Thus he hung on the wall all the paintings he had done of the places he had been to. (The History of the Song of the Southern Dynasties)
With a plot of wolfberries and chrysanthemums to go with my wine, I rove the landscapes covering the walls while reclining in my bed. (Ni Zan: Gu Zhongzhi Visits to Find Mr. Xu Fully Recovered)