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# 9 - LiAnge and the Magic Paintbrush

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DRAGONS SHAPE CHINA – Chinese Stories

Today's story is about a young man, LiAnge, who wants to learn the three academic skills: painting, poetry, and calligraphy of court scholars. For his passion, he is given a magic brush by the Queen Mother of the West, mother of P'angu. His successes crossed a path with a possessive, greedy Emperor.

LiAnge is a Chinese legend, supposedly about an Emperor, of that name from the Golden Dragons (between 200 to 1800 century). In that period of prosperity, young men studied the three perfections: Painting, Poetry, and Calligraphy to earn a degree to became Dragons of the Court and to help the Emperors. LiAnge, a poor boy from the country, wants to learn to paint but has no money and family because of the many wars. Always he drew either in the sand or the wet mud. Finally, he was given a magic brush by the Queen of the West, Mother of the Dragons. The brush can only paint 'good' for the people.' A greedy Emperor desires LiAnge's brush and will destroy to get what he covets.

STOooRrrrYyyy,

Sssttooorrrrriieeee,

Sssttooorrrrriieeee.

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In a small village in China lived a poor boy by the name of the Ma LiAng, who longed to be rich and to study like the scholars, who learn the three perfections of art, poetry, and calligraphy

In a small village in China lived a poor boy by the name of the Ma LiAng, who longed to be rich and to study like the scholars, who learn the three perfections of art, poetry, and calligraphy. He was the last of his family and gathered wood for his tea and rice. His silk sandals worn and his silk gown stained and had many tears. Ma LiAng brought his wood from the mountain and sold it to the farmers for firewood or fence posts. A farmer allowed him to sleep on the straw in an old shed for his protection. He was lonely with a cheery face, energetic youth filled with optimism.

LiAnge longed to be an artist. He wanted to paint; desperately he wanted to paint beautiful pictures. He dreamed nightly of being an artist and during the day as he gathered the wood, he sketched with sticks in the mud, on rocks, and in the sand. Patiently and quietly, with a stick in his hand, he described every detail of the forest, noticing textures, contrast light, colors, and shapes. He concentrated kneeling observing what he painted, imitating the bark of the trees: the color, the texture, the feel. LiAnge put the sounds and the movement of the leaves into his crude drawings.

LiAnge felt the beauty, the grandeur of nature, sometimes big sometimes tiny, a harmonious at times, miraculous, and threatening. LiAnge captured the overwhelming importance of the birds, deer, and fish with his stick on the dirt.

By observing detail of sound and motion even the quiet, and every flicker of light, LiAnge carefully translated into lines what he appreciated. He quietly locked into his translation the beauty. Steadily working, he practiced daily. His desired to become a successful artist was endless.

On his way home one day, LiAnge discovered an art school. He climbed the Oak tree and spied on the students as they sat at desks. They had brushes, ink, and paper. Each day after collecting wood, he secretly climbed the tree and learned how to make bamboo brushes with bristles from animals fur, ink from burn coals, burn wood as charcoal, and to make paper by crushing leaves, patting them flat, letting them dry or not.

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