The painting is an illustration of Dian Yi Tai (Punctuating Yijing Plateau) where Shao Bao (1460-1527) studied Yijing (the Book of Changes) and used red cinnabar paste to punctuate it. Dian Yi Tai is located above the Erquan College at the foot of a hill. In Ming Zhengde 11th year (1515), Shao Bao built an octagonal plateau at the North of Dilu spring. The octagonal plateau symbolizes Baguatu (the Orientation Chart of the Hexagram). A round boulder, representing Taiji, was placed in the center, flanked by two stones, representing Liangyi (Two Polarities: Yin and Yang). There are four stones, representing Sixiang (Four Symbols in Chinese constellation) in the periphery. A few steps above is the Songtan (Pine altar).
When painting people in a landscape in Chinese tradition, there is a choice to be made between painting the figures after the landscape background is done or adding background after the figures are painted. This painting is an example of the former in which figures have not been painted.
Dian yi tai tu (A painting of the plateau where the Book of Changes is punctuated)
Early tenth month of Guangxu Renchen year (1892)
Junior scholar (or Protégé) Zeng Quan. Seal: Yuzhi
Inscription (Upper right)
The plateau is bleak. Pine nuts fall when autumn arrives. The running spring dampens the quiet path. It is a wonderful scene to explore. Good and bad fortune can be revealed from the six Yin and Yang lines in the hexagrams, which are derived from the Hetui (Yellow River diagram) and the Luoshu (Luo River writing).
The wave is limpid and jade green; the night is glowing. Taiji generates two Polarities; Yin and Yang develop hill and ravine. The forest keeps growing tall and deep while the former scholar has gone.
Junior scholar (or Protégé) Dou Zhen (signature) Seal: Dou Zhen shuhua zhi yin
Duo Zhen (Qing dynasty, late 19th - early 20th century)
His courtesy name was Shuying, and his pseudonym was Jiufeng Danshi. His studio was named Xiao Lu Tian An. He was a native of Wuxi, Jiangsu province. He liked to paint flower, tree, bamboo and rock. In Xuantong third year (1911), Duo edited the book Guo chao shuhua jia biu (Reigning Dynasty Painter and Calligrapher Record). The title page of the book was endorsed by Zeng Quan (Qing dynasty), who was the scholar who entitled this painting.
Inscription (Upper Left)
There is an ancient old plateau (which was built with the idea of the Book of Changes). The Yin and Yang elements in chaos initiate lives. The inkstone pool is located in the mountain with layers of varying colors. The gurgling sounds of the running spring by the stone steps quietly play. The law in the Book of Changes can be connected surreptitiously with the divine and ghostly. The Baofui (Incantation) can summon wind and thunder. The damaged three-foot tablet was hidden under autumn grasses while the painting depicted the boundless plateau.
Junior scholar (or Protégé) Gu Jingying (signature) Seal: Gu shi Yinming
Although the identity of the painter is not revealed by any signature or seals on the painting, we can assume he was a great master from the manner in which the scholars who inscribed and entitled the painting refer to themselves, which expresses respect and esteem for the artist.
Dian Yi Tai (Punctuating Yijing Plateau)
In 1957, Dian Yi Tai was listed as one of the Jiangsu province cultural relic preservation sites. According to the record during that time, Dian Yi Tai was located in east of Mt. Hui. There was a path leading to Dilu spring, Yanzhushi (cinnabar grinding stone), Songtan Keshi (pine altar stone tablet) and the Dian Yi Tai (punctuating Yijing plateau). Dilu spring was about one meter deep and one meter in diameter. Yanzhushi was an irregularly edged rectangle with the dimensions of 0.95 by 0.98 meter. The characters "Yan zhu shi" were engraved on the stone. There was an inkstone, measuring 0.25 by 0.08 meters, raised about one centimeter from the grinding stone surface on the lower right corner. 2.6 meters above the Yanzhushi was a stone tablet engraved with two characters "Pine Altar". 6.48 meters ascending from the pine altar stone tablet on the hill lies another tablet measuring at 1.66 meters high, engraved with eight characters, translated as "green wall red cliff, earth and sky", in the calligraphy of Shao Bao. At the top, 13 meters above the pine altar, there was a tablet engraved with three characters "Dian Yi Tai", which is the name of the plateau.