29 May, 2012 : Christie’s Hong Kong to auction Huang Yao’s “Immortal Chess Players”


On 29th May, Christie's Hong Kong will auction Huang Yao’s “Immortal Chess Player” (1980), a painting is based on a legendary Jin dynasty tale.

The ink painting tells the story of a woodcutter who came upon two children playing chess whilst working in the hills. He stood there watching them, and found, before the game ended, that the handle (ke) of his axe had decayed (lan). He hurried home only to find that no one recognised him and those who he had known had all passed away. Indeed, he had encountered two immortals playing chess. (Translated from nankong.zjqzez.com/Article/wqxd/wqxd_wh/200609/1861.html)

In the painting, Huang Yao wrote, in his characteristic style of upside-down calligraphy, chuyunshu, a poem about a lifetime in the worldly sphere being but the duration of a chess game in the immortal realm (as follows) -


People say that the sun and the moon are slow in the immortal realm,                                                 

In that realm, sun and moon turn and bring sorrow,

Who would consider that a hundred years of worldly matters

Was only one set of chess game in the mountains.”


”Guan Yi Lan Ke” (Immortal Chess Players)

140 cm x 74.5 cm; 1980

Christie’s Spring Auction

May 29th 2012

Lot 3037