Da Shu: Greater Heat
Da Shu, also named Greater Heat, is the 12th of the 24 solar terms, and it is the hottest time in the year. As an old Chinese saying goes, "In Xiao Shu (Lesser Heat), it is not hot enough, while in Da Shu, it is really hot."
Heat is a physical experience. In depicting heat, painters transform the feeling of the body into emotional reflection and presents it in an artistic way.
In Summer, a painting by Li Xiaoke, we see old trees with their branches entangled standing along the boulevard, forming a canopy shielding pedestrians from the scorching heat. Their dense leaves are almost melted by the strong sunlight, turned into a body of thick greenness. At the end of the boulevard, there is a white space, which reminds of a phrase – "white heat". The painter thus transforms a physical phenomenon into colors and create a vivid visual impact.
In A Summer Day, a print, the painter Li Congling also depicts the theme of heat with trees and shade. The painting is a mixture of light and shade. In the sunlight, the leaves are dry, yellowish, and brittle. In the shade of trees, the green moss rolls back, revealing clods of yellow soil. The summer heat seems to flow from the brushstrokes of the painting and dryness peculiar to prints, and diffuse quietly.
Han Tianheng's traditional Chinese painting "Heat Defying Lotus" depicts the charm of a lotus pond in summer. Employing the splash technique of traditional Chinese painting, the painter vividly presents the vibrant lotus leaves in the heat in a bold yet not exaggerated way. The strong green color of lotus leaves enables the viewer to experience the summer heat through contrast of colors.
Apart from natural scenes, human activities during Dashu are also a favorite theme of painters. Drawing inspiration from a poem by Su Shi, a famous Song Dynasty poet in the 11th Century, Xie Xingtao produced a painting entitled "Washing Feet in the Stream in Summer". It is a lively scene of one washing his feet under the willows, watched by the crane across the stream.
In Greater Heat, a painting by Dai Shuliang, children and buffaloes are playing in the water. In the distance, several people, wearing bamboo hats, are working in the field. The painting presents an idyllic rural scene of both pleasure and hard work.
Many old ways of spending summer during Dashu remain popular today, such as eating herbal jelly and chasing fireflies. These artistic creations as well as folk customs are special ways in which the Chinese spend a hot summer.[ Editor: JYZ]