Mirth to the mind

When was the last time somebody brought you such a gift?  A charming rhapsody, by the Chinese writer Sima Xiangru (ca. 179-117 BC), showing jesters alongside musicians, with whom there was often an overlap, and with dwarfs, again, with whom they could be interchangeable.

In other words, both musicians and dwarfs could be – or become – jesters.  We will be highlighting these connections in the months to come.

Meanwhile, why not just dream of the land of Ti-ti, sounds like a great place to be.

Then come jesters, musicians and trained dwarfs,

And singing girls from the land of Ti-ti,

To delight the ear and eye

And bring mirth to the mind.


Source: Sima Xiangru 司馬相如 (ca. 179-117 BC), Rhapsody on the Shanglin Park (上林賦), trans. Burton Watson, Chinese Rhyme-Prose: Poems in Fu form from the Han and Six Dynasties Periods (New York: Coloumbia University Press, 1971), p. 48

Image source: Qiu Ying 仇英 (attrib.) (1494–1552), Ode on Shanglin Park 上林賦 (detail) (1531-38), ink and colors on silk handscroll, 53.5 x 1183.9 cm, National Palace Museum 國立故宮博物院, Taipei, Taiwan. Wikimedia Commons


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