Attributed to Qiu Ying, (1502-1552), Tribute Bearers (detail), 1500s.
Ming dynasty (1368-1644), China.
Ink and color on silk; 12 3/4 x 268 in.
Denver Art Museum: Gift of Dr. Robert Rinden, 1971.40
Attributed to Qiu Ying (Chinese, 1502–1552)
1500s, Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Ink and color on silk
Gift of Dr. Robert Rinden
In this scroll, a Ming dynasty artist (probably Qiu Ying) painted ten foreign delegations traveling to pay tribute to the Chinese imperial court. The envoys are identified by banners representing their home states as well as by their different clothing styles. In addition to its function as a statement of China’s power and centrality, this ambitiously scaled painting also indulges a viewer’s nostalgia for faraway kingdoms represented by figures dressed in colorful costumes and bearing fanciful gifts associated with their homelands. Qiu Ying was painting a world of international relationships as it existed in the Tang dynasty—connections no long extant during his time. Although he might have been inspired by similar depictions made before his, he inserted many features from his own imagination. Foreigners are shown with an overemphasis on their exotic features. The different envoys are separated by landscape elements painted in a conventional blue-green style that enhances the vibrant colors in the figures.