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Ju Lian Birds

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Starting from $149

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Oil on a premium cotton canvas. This Xu Beihong painting combines a few layers which are painted over with thin and thick brushes.

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Starting from $149

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Ju Lian ‘Birds’

Pull from the overseas

We are strongly attracted to everything exotic. That gives us a glimpse of unusual, foreign life with a worldview that’s nothing like ours. At moments like that, our own vision of the world changes and grows as we start seeing it at a quite different angle that opens to us its previously unknown sides. This is exactly what we feel looking at traditional Chinese paintings from the times of great royal dynasties. And although they were created centuries ago, modern Chinese artists stick close to the roots of their culture and keep reincarnating the old images and symbols in contemporary contexts. One of such artists was Ju Lian who worked in the mid-to-late 19th century. Known for his bird-and-flower, plant-and-insect and human series, he strived to combine traditional elements of ancient Chinese painting with modern methods of expression. His ‘Birds’ are a splendid example of this approach.

Poetry of nature

Using flat colors and simplified shapes, the artist depicted a couple of crows perching on a blooming tree branch. Their heads are turned and their eyes are fixed on a spot outside the canvas as if they were looking at or waiting for something. The austere black and grey plumage of the birds exquisitely contrasts the bright red flowers surrounding them. The background is completely blank focusing our entire attention on the central image. Bird-and-flower paintings were one of the most significant trends in traditional Chinese art. Interest in natural world was enhanced by symbolism attributed to various kinds of flora and fauna. Indeed, we can compare birds and flowers to nearly all human thoughts and feelings. They can signify our desires and emotions, virtues and omens, feminine beauty and even political power. In China, the image of a crow brings up a whole slew of associations:

  • - For centuries, crows have been closely linked to death and mysticism. Hearing the raucous call of this bird is considered to be a bad sign.
  • - On the other hand, they are seen as a metaphor of filial piety, since young crows usually assist their parents in raising the next generation.
  • - Finally, the crow stands for an authoritative figure of a ruler and can also symbolize the sun, supported by vibrant red colors present in the painting.


The simple elegance and poetic imagery of Ju Lian’s ‘Birds’ immediately catches the eye. If you want to add some Chinese flavor to your interior, our premium hand-painted replica of this charming wall painting will make a great choice!