Image: Hydraulic Mill, Song-era China.
Once upon a time the imperial power of China was reflected in its advanced technology to produce food. For this week’s art post about the world of food, we found this Song-era painting of a water mill.
Some background is provided in this academic article. The JSTOR page provides a summary (full article behind paywall):
In the Northern Song “Water Mill” scroll in the Shanghai Museum, the humble water mill is a monumental subject of court painting and a symbol of imperial power. The imperialization of water mills and the proficiency of artists at rendering complex machinery and architecture arose in response to economic and technological advances and new demands of patronage. Contemporary water mill literature further contributed to the machine’s transformation into a metaphoric embodiment of the efficiency and benevolence of good Confucian government. “The Water Mill” offers visual evidence of Northern Song national development as a result of government-sponsored programs.
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