Three Friends: Pine, Bamboo, and Plum

Because of their ability to thrive even in the harshness of winter, pine, bamboo, and plum together embody steadfastness, perseverance, and resilience. Pine and bamboo are evergreen, while plum trees blossom at the end of winter, signaling the approach of spring. Representing the ideal characteristics of a scholar-gentleman, the trio came to be known as the Three Friends of Winter. They stood as symbols of hope and sheer determination, encouraging perseverance in the face of adversity. Consequently, these three symbols of virtue became a popular theme in Chinese painting, poetry, and calligraphy throughout the ages. Displayed here are a range of stylistic forms and expressions that reflect the ways in which different artists experience and portray the Three Friends.

  • Bamboo
    Ming dynasty, 1368–1644
    Chinese
    Gui Changshi 歸昌世, 1574–1645
    Bamboo, 1613
    y1947-4
  • Pure Serenity of Green Bamboo (綠竹清幽圖)
    Yuan dynasty, 1260–1368
    Chinese
    Wang Yuan 王淵, active 1310–1350
    Pure Serenity of Green Bamboo (綠竹清幽圖), 1342
    y1947-5
  • Bamboo in Snow
    Qing dynasty, 1644–1912
    Chinese
    Zhu Sheng, ca. 1680–ca. 1750
    Bamboo in Snow, 1722
    y1947-41
  • Flock of Cranes and Pines (Qunhe chaosong)
    Ming dynasty, 1368–1644
    Chinese
    Anonymous
    Flock of Cranes and Pines (Qunhe chaosong), undated
    y1947-59
  • Plum Branch
    Qing dynasty, 1644–1912
    Chinese
    Peng Yulin 彭玉麟, 1816–1890
    Plum Branch, undated
    y1947-233
  • Plum
    Qing dynasty, 1644–1912 | Modern period, 1912–present
    Chinese
    Ma Lin 馬麟, attributed to, active ca. 1180–after 1256
    Plum, undated
    y1947-260
  • Plum Blossoms
    Qing dynasty, 1644–1912
    Chinese
    Shitao 石濤, 1642–1707
    Plum Blossoms, ca. 1705–07
    y1967-15 a
  • Plum Blossoms
    Qing dynasty, 1644–1912
    Chinese
    Shitao 石濤, 1642–1707
    Plum Blossoms, ca. 1705–07
    y1967-15 b
  • Plum Blossoms
    Qing dynasty, 1644–1912
    Chinese
    Shitao 石濤, 1642–1707
    Plum Blossoms, ca. 1705–07
    y1967-15 c
  • Plum Blossoms
    Qing dynasty, 1644–1912
    Chinese
    Shitao 石濤, 1642–1707
    Plum Blossoms, ca. 1705–07
    y1967-15 d
  • Plum Blossoms
    Qing dynasty, 1644–1912
    Chinese
    Shitao 石濤, 1642–1707
    Plum Blossoms, ca. 1705–07
    y1967-15 e
  • Plum Blossoms
    Qing dynasty, 1644–1912
    Chinese
    Shitao 石濤, 1642–1707
    Plum Blossoms, ca. 1705–07
    y1967-15 f