6 Ladies on the ‘Night of Sevens’ Pleading for Skills

This content requires Flash

You must have Javascript enabled and Adobe Flash Player to view the image gallery.

Get Flash Player

This content requires Javascript

You must have Javascript enabled to view the image gallery.

For instructions on how to enable Javascript in your web browser click here.

6
Ladies on the ‘Night of Sevens’ Pleading for Skills
Ding Guanpeng (d. after 1770)
Dated 1748
Handscroll; ink on paper, 28.7 × 386.5 cm

The ‘Night of Sevens’ is the seventh night of the seventh month in the traditional lunar calendar. On this night in dynastic China it was the custom for women – especially ladies of the court – to ‘plead for skills’ to the Weaver Girl from the legend of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl. That legend, which the subject of more than one work in the exhibition, tells of the romance between a Weaver Girl, the star Vega whose role it was the weave clouds, and lowly Cowherd, the star Altair. When her father, the lord of the heavens, discovers the liaison he separates the couple forever by creating the River of Heaven or Milky Way across the sky. Thereafter, they meet just once a year, on the Night of Sevens, when auspicious magpies form a bridge across the Milky Way.