Three perfections

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Kuncan, Landscape after Night Rain Shower, (China, Qing Dynasty), 1660, Palace Museum, Beijing. Landscape after Night Rain Shower.jpg
Kuncan, Landscape after Night Rain Shower, (China, Qing Dynasty), 1660, Palace Museum, Beijing.

Three perfections is the gathering of poets, calligraphers and painters to create an artwork in ancient China and Japan. The resulting product would be a painting that would include the work of a calligrapher to write a poem.


Legend holds that the Tang dynasty poets Du Fu and Li Bai were the first to introduce the combination of painting and poetry into one artwork. Several hundred years later, Su Shi, a poet and painter, promoted the use of poetry and painting together. Instruction of artists at the Northern Song Imperial Painting Academy included the integration of poetry and painting. As a result of the prevalence of the merged arts into the "Three perfections" a common expression emerged, the "soundless poem" to describe how one might experience a painting with sound, sight, smell, touch, and emotions. [1]


Qiao Zhongchang, Illustration to the Second Prose Poem on the Red Cliff, late 11th or early 12th century, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Qiao Zhongchang, Chinese (act. Late 11th-early 12th century). Detail, Illustration to the Second Prose Poem on the Red Cliff, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.jpg
Qiao Zhongchang, Illustration to the Second Prose Poem on the Red Cliff, late 11th or early 12th century, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

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  1. The Great Art of China's 'Soundless Poems'. The Schiller Institute. p. 45, 70. Retrieved 28 August 2012.

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