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.