Paris of hanging scrolls, ink and gold on waxed paper,

Included in this item (2)


  • Lin Zexu, Couplet in Running Script
  • Identifier Type
    Locally defined identifier
    Identifier Value
    Collection of Phoenix Art Museum. Gift of Jeannette Shambaugh Elliott. 1984.575.A-B
  • Dimension: calligraphy 125.5 x 29 cm; mounting 159 x 36 cm
  • Calligraphy: 道德允符温潤玉, 文章和氣吉祥花。
  • Inscription: 林則徐
  • Artist's Seal: 臣林則徐字少穆印, 身行萬里半天下
  • Lin Zexu (1785-1850, alternative name Shaomu 少穆) was a high-ranking government official who was summoned by Emperor Daoguang to quell the opium problem. Backed by Confucian ideal, Lin carried out a hard campaign against opium. British merchants had been smuggling opium into China for big profit, and hurting the country’s morale as well as its finances. Lin’s strong stance against opium trade angered Britain and led to the Opium War (1840-1842). As a result, Lin was banished to Yili in modern-day Xinjian-Uygur province. In 1850, he was called back to help suppress the Taiping Rebellion, but passed away on the way to his new post. Although the couplet is not dated, it can be assumed that it was executed sometime after 1811, the year Lin Zexu passed the national Civil Service Exam, because one of his seals contains a letter that connotes being an Emperor’s official (chen 臣). The running script in the conservative, orthodox style with copious ink seems appropriate for this elite, dedicated official who was not afraid to stand up against Great Britain. Reference: Shinmura Izuru, ed. Kōjien. Fifth edtion. Tokyo: Shinmura Izuru kinen zaidan, 2004. Spence, Jonathan D. The Search for Modern China. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1990.

Machine-readable links