Year of the Snake

Item #





Qing Late 19th Century


Ink & pigment on paper




overall 85" x 19.5" (216 x 49 cm); image 51" x 11-5/8" (129 x 29 cm)





There are 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac. Therefore, everyone that is born will have an animal identification. There are books that tell about the personalities and characteristics of people born in those particular years. It is an intriguing and interesting thing that people discuss and talk about. The following painting refers to an animal year. However the story that is related is not reflecting the character or personality of a person born in that year, but is simply a story in Chinese literature that came to mind with the artist who drew this painting. He was undoubtedly a scholar who loved to draw and used the excuse of creating a series of zodiac related paintings. That artist's name was Wang Su. The paintings were done in the late 19th century, before the end of the Qing Dynasty.

This is a painting that refers to the year of the snake. It is about an old monk named Li Sheng who lived in a temple. One day he fell asleep and dreamed of a snake that climbed into a tree to eat fruit. He then saw an image of the snake enter the body of his pupil. When he woke up he asked the novice, who had also been sleeping, if he had a dream. The pupil said he had dreamed that he had climbed into a tree to get some fruit. And with that Li Sheng knew that the pupil was a very special person.



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