绘事后素 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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huì shì hòu sù 绘事后素

The White Silk First, the Painting Afterwards

原指绘画须先有白绢作底,引申为美感源于自然质朴。孔子由此阐发仁义为本、礼教为辅的理念,强调礼的教育起源于人的自然本性。后来这一术语引入文艺创作与批评,它倡导雕饰起源于质素,文质相符,彰显天然之美。

The original meaning of this phrase is that a piece of white silk must be prepared before one can paint. The concept was then extended to mean that beauty comes from natural simplicity. From this, Confucius put forward the notion that benevolence and righteousness are fundamental and the code of ethics secondary, emphasizing that the teaching of the rites originates in human nature. This concept was later introduced into literary and artistic creation and criticism, which advocates that elaboration should be based on substance, and that style and substance should be compatible and complement each other to bring out the natural beauty.

引例 Citations:

◎子夏问曰:“‘巧笑倩兮,美目盼兮,素以为绚兮。’何谓也?”子曰:“绘事后素。”(《论语·八佾》)

(子夏问道:“‘美妙的笑靥那样迷人啊,漂亮的眼睛含羞顾盼啊,就像是白绢上画出了绚丽的画啊!’这几句诗是什么意思?”孔子道:“先有白绢才能作画。”)

Zixia asked: “A seductive smile with pretty dimples, her lovely eyes sparkling, like a beautiful painting on white silk. What do these lines mean?” Confucius replied: “To paint, one must have a piece of white silk first.” (The Analects)

◎礼必以忠信为质,犹绘事必以粉素为先。(朱熹《论语集注》)

(礼教必须以忠信为根本,如同绘画必须先要有白绢。)

The ethical code must be based on loyalty and faithfulness, like a painting that must be done on a piece of white silk prepared. (Zhu Xi: The Analects Variorum)

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