Literature Anecdotes: Mi Yuanzhang Spirit

Zhen Zhong

PureInsight | January 27, 2016

[] Someone with the surname Zhao lived in the Wuhu place. He was good at painting and copied Mi Yuanzhang’s painting style. Mi was a northern painter from the Song dynasty, 1051-1107. Zhao also perfected a baked on effect so the stained paper looked aged. Thus, Zhao soon became an expert at counterfeiting Mi’s paintings. Even those who were familiar with Mi’s artwork could not distinguish any difference between the original paintings and Zhao’s fakes. Many northern and southern antique homes bought Zhao’s forgeries enabling him to make a living.

One day, Zhao became tired and drifted off to sleep. Suddenly, a man wearing a Tang robe and apparel from the Song dynasty appeared in his room and chided him, “I am Mi Yuanzhang! You studied my paintings and acquired a very superficial understanding. Now you fabricate counterfeit paintings to acquire money through deception. In thousands of years, people will not think highly of my paintings. My identity and name will be ruined because of you!” Mi took a stone from his sleeve and struck Zhao’s right arm. Zhao felt a surge of pain and was scared awake.

From then on, every time he picked up a pen, he felt acute wrist pain. Strangely enough, whenever he picked up chopsticks or counted money, there was no pain at all.

In the end, Zhao corrected his evil ways. Never again did he dare to (or could he physically) fabricate the paintings of Mi Yuanzhang from the Song dynasty for profit!


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