Landscape of the Soul Summary, Explanation and Question Answers
CBSE Class 11 English Hornbill Book Chapter 4
Landscape of the Soul Class 11 NCERT English (Hornbill Book) Lesson 4 Landscape of the Soul Summary and Detailed explanation along with the difficult word meanings.
Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the Lesson. All the exercises and Questions and Answers given at the back of the lessons have been covered. Also, Take Free Online MCQs Test for Class 11
Chapter 4 Landscape of the Soul Class 11 English (Hornbill Book)
By Nathalie Trouveroy
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Landscape of the Soul Introduction
Landscape of the Soul – CBSE Class 11 English (Hornbill Book) Lesson 4 Landscape of the Soul Summary and Detailed explanation of the lesson along with the meanings of difficult words. Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the lesson.
All the exercises and Questions Answers given at the back of the lesson have been covered. Also, Take Free Online MCQs Test for Class 11
Landscape of the Soul Written by Nathalie Trouveroy, the chapter is about how different the Chinese Art form is, from the European art form. The writer uses two stories to make a contrast. European art is about reproducing an actual view whereas Chinese art is about not creating a real landscape.
Landscape of the Soul Class 11 Video Explanation
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Landscape of the Soul Summary
In this chapter, the writer contrasts two forms of art – Chinese art and European art by using two different stories. In China during the eighth century, the Tang emperor Xuanzong commissioned a painter Wu Daozi to decorate a wall in the palace.
Upon seeing the wall painting, the Emperor started noticing the outer appearance of the painting but the painter drew his attention to a cave at the foot of the mountain. The painter told the Emperor that he would take him inside.
The painter entered the cave and the entrance closed behind him. As soon as the painter clapped his hand, the painting on the wall was gone and so was the painter.
In another story, a painter wouldn’t draw an eye of a dragon as he feared that the dragon would fly out of the painting. In another story to represent a European art form, a master Blacksmith falls in love with a painter’s daughter. The father didn’t approve of him because of his profession. The blacksmith sneaked into his painting studio and painted a fly on the painter’s latest panel.
The fly seemed so real that the painter tried to hit it first before realizing it was in the painting. The painter accepted him as a trainee in his studio. The blacksmith married the painter’s daughter and later became one of the famous painters of his time.
These stories revealed as to how art form is believed to be followed in two different regions in the world. In Europe, an artist wants the viewer to see a real viewpoint by borrowing his eyes. The art must be perfect and must be illusion likeness.
Whereas, in China, the artist doesn’t paint a real one but uses his inner and spiritual voice to create an abstract piece. The viewer can enter the painting from any point and can travel according to his own imagination. The artist wants the viewer to enter his mind and create a path of its own.
This concept is called ‘Shanshui’ which means ‘mountain water’. When they are used together, they make the word ‘landscape’.
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Landscape of the Soul Class 11 Lesson Explanation
A WONDERFUL old tale is told about the painter Wu Daozi, who lived in the eighth century. His last painting was a landscape commissioned by the Tang Emperor Xuanzong, to decorate a palace wall. The master had hidden his work behind a screen, so only the Emperor would see it.
For a long while, the Emperor admired the wonderful scene, discovering forests, high mountains, waterfalls, clouds floating in an immense sky, men on hilly paths, birds in flight. “Look, Sire”, said the painter, “in this cave, at the foot of the mountain, dwells a spirit.”
The painter clapped his hands, and the entrance to the cave opened. “The inside is splendid, beyond anything words can convey. Please let me show Your Majesty the way.” The painter entered the cave; but the entrance closed behind him, and before the astonished Emperor could move or utter a word, the painting had vanished from the wall. Not a trace of Wu Daozi’s brush was left — and the artist was never seen again in this world.
Dwells – live; stay
Splendid – very impressive; superb
Astonished – greatly surprised or impressed
A painter named Wu Daozi who lived in the eighth century was assigned to decorate a Palace wall by the Tang Emperor Xuanzong. It was his last painting. The painter hid his work behind the screen so the only emperor would see it. The Emperor upon looking at the painting admired many things into that painting like discovering forests, high mountains, waterfalls, floating clouds, men on hilly paths and birds in flight. The painter then made him look at a cave in the painting which was at the foot of the mountain and compared it with a living spirit. As the painter clapped his hands, the entrance of the cave opened and he let the emperor know how beautiful the inside of the cave was and he asked him to show all this to him. The painter entered the cave and the entrance closed behind him. The Emperor couldn’t enter the cave, as the Emperor was greatly surprised, the painting vanished from the wall. After that, the painter was never seen again.
Such stories played an important part in China’s classical education. The books of Confucius and Zhuangzi are full of them; they helped the master to guide his disciple in the right direction. Beyond the anecdote, they are deeply revealing of the spirit in which art was considered. Contrast this story — or another famous one about a painter who wouldn’t draw the eye of a dragon he had painted, for fear it would fly out of the painting — with an old story from my native Flanders that I find most representative of Western painting.
Disciple – a follower or a pupil of a leader, teacher
Anecdote – a short interesting story of a real person
Flanders – a medieval country in Western Europe
These stories played an important role in classical education in China. Similarly, like the books of Confucius and Zhuangzi are full of such stories as they help the master to help and guide his followers in the right direction. These stories were considered to be deeply revealing of the spirit just like the art. There was another famous story, in contrast to the previous one, where the painter wouldn’t paint the eye of a dragon. He feared that the dragon would fly out from the painting. It was one of the stories from many others which came from a medieval country in Western Europe.
In fifteenth-century Antwerp, a master blacksmith called Quinten Metsys fell in love with a painter’s daughter. The father would not accept a son-in-law in such a profession. So Quinten sneaked into the painter’s studio and painted a fly on his latest panel, with such delicate realism that the master tried to swat it away before he realised what had happened. Quinten was immediately admitted as an apprentice into his studio. He married his beloved and went on to become one of the most famous painters of his age. These two stories illustrate what each form of art is trying to achieve: a perfect, illusionistic likeness in Europe, the essence of inner life and spirit in Asia.
Antwerp – a city of northern Belgium
Delicate Realism – the quality of art that makes it seem real
Swat – hit or crush something
Apprentice – trainee; learner
Illusionistic Likeness – an illusion created which resembles something
During the fifteenth century in Antwerp, a master blacksmith named Quinten Metsys falls in love with a painter’s daughter. Since the father was not accepting their relationship because of his profession, the blacksmith sneaked into the painter’s studio and painted a fly on his latest panel. The painting was so real that the master tried to hit the fly away before he realized that it was just a painting. The blacksmith was accepted into the studio as a trainee. He married the painter’s daughter and later became one of the famous painters of his age. The two stories told above are trying to illustrate the form of art in two different regions. In Europe, the art is perfect and like an illusion which resembles something; In Asia, the art gives an essence of inner life and spirit.
In the Chinese story, the Emperor commissions a painting and appreciates its outer appearance. But the artist reveals to him the true meaning of his work. The Emperor may rule over the territory he has conquered, but only the artist knows the way within. “Let me show the Way”, the ‘Dao’, a word that means both the path or the method, and the mysterious works of the Universe. The painting is gone, but the artist has reached his goal — beyond any material appearance.
As in the Chinese story, the artist reveals the true meaning of his work to the Emperor who rules over his territory but didn’t know the way within. The Emperor only saw the outer appearance of the wall painting. The work was mysterious and ‘Dao’ which means something which has both paths is what the artist did. As the painting was gone after the artist reached the caves, the motive was fulfilled that some work is beyond material appearance.
A classical Chinese landscape is not meant to reproduce an actual view, as would a Western figurative painting. Whereas the European painter wants you to borrow his eyes and look at a particular landscape exactly as he saw it, from a specific angle, the Chinese painter does not choose a single viewpoint. His landscape is not a ‘real’ one, and you can enter it from any point, then travel in it; the artist creates a path for your eyes to travel up and down, then back again, in a leisurely movement. This is even more true in the case of the horizontal scroll, in which the action of slowly opening one section of the painting, then rolling it up to move on to the other, adds a dimension of time which is unknown in any other form of painting. It also requires the active participation of the viewer, who decides at what pace he will travel through the painting — a participation which is physical as well as mental. The Chinese painter does not want you to borrow his eyes; he wants you to enter his mind.
The landscape is an inner one, a spiritual and conceptual space.
Figurative painting – metaphoric representation of an art
Leisurely – unhurried or relaxed
Conceptual Space – relation with an abstract representation
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The Chinese landscape painting is not made with a real viewpoint but it is a representation of the artist’s thoughts. The western painting in Europe is a figurative art form. The European painter paints a landscape to show you a specific scene of the landscape whereas the Chinese painter doesn’t choose a real viewpoint. You can enter the painting from any point and can travel anywhere where your thoughts and imagination take you. The Chinese artist wants you to travel by creating your own path and then come out in a relaxed movement. In China, this mode of seeing a painting is more enjoyable. A horizontal scroll is a form where one section of the painting is opened one by one by rolling it up to move on the other side. It creates a dimension which is not practiced in any other form of artwork. It requires both mental and physical participation of the viewer. The Chinese painter wants you to enter his mind and see the painting from his thoughts. The landscape created by Chinese artists is spiritual, inner and of conceptual or abstract space.
This concept is expressed as shanshui, literally ‘mountain water which used together represent the word ‘landscape’. More than two elements of an image, these represent two complementary poles, reflecting the Daoist view of the universe. The mountain is Yang — reaching vertically towards Heaven, stable, warm, and dry in the sun, while the water is Yin — horizontal and resting on the earth, fluid, moist and cool. The interaction of Yin, the receptive, feminine aspect of universal energy, and its counterpart Yang, active and masculine, is of course a fundamental notion of Daoism.
What is often overlooked is an essential third element, the Middle Void where their interaction takes place. This can be compared with the yogic practice of pranayama; breathe in, retain, breathe out — the suspension of breath is the Void where meditation occurs. The Middle Void is essential — nothing can happen without it; hence the importance of the white, unpainted space in Chinese landscape.
Daoism – a Chinese philosophy based on the writings of Lao-Tzu
Void – empty; vacant
The Chinese concept of art is also expressed as ‘Shanshui’ which also means mountain water. It is used together to represent the word ‘landscape’. The two complementary poles of an image reflect the Daoist view. The mountain in the landscape is Yang which means to reach vertically towards heaven, stable, warm and dry in the sun. Whereas the water is the Yin, which is receptive and feminine aspect of universal energy. The Yang is active and masculine, and the opposite of Yin. There is a third essential element which is a Middle Void which is the place where they interact. This middle void can be compared to Pranayama which means to breathe in, retain and breathe out. Here, the suspension of the breath is the void in this meditation process. It is an essential part as nothing can happen without it. Hence the white unpainted space in Chinese landscape is equally important.
This is also where Man finds a fundamental role. In that space between Heaven and Earth, he becomes the conduit of communication between both poles of the Universe. His presence is essential, even if it’s only suggested; far from being lost or oppressed by the lofty peaks, he is, in Francois Cheng’s wonderful expression, “the eye of the landscape”.
Conduit – channel; tube
Oppressed – burdened; worried
Lofty – tall or high
The middle void is where a man finds an important role. Man is the channel of communication in the space between Heaven and Earth which are the two poles of the universe. Man’s presence is essential. It is not being lost or suppressed due to high peaks but he is the eye of the landscape (Francois Cheng’s expression).
Landscape of the Soul Class 11 Questions and Answers
Understanding the Text
1. (i) Contrast the Chinese view of art with the European view with examples.
Ans: The Chinese form of art is based on imagination and shows inner and spiritual approach of the artist. Whereas, the European art form is real and reproduces an actual view of the object from the landscape.
(ii) Explain the concept of shanshui.
Ans: Shanshui is a Chinese concept of art which means ‘mountain water’. It is used together to represent the word ‘landscape’. The two complementary poles (yin and yang) of an image reflect the Daoist view.
2. (i) What do you understand by the terms ‘outsider art’ and ‘art brut’ or ‘raw art’?
Ans: ‘Outsider Art’ is the art made by untrained artists, for example children or mentally ill person. ‘Art Brut’ or ‘Raw Art’ is a type of art made by people who are not professionals but they create an art piece with their own depth and understanding and not from the stereotypical form of classical or fashionable art.
(ii) Who was the “untutored genius who created a paradise” and what is the nature of his contribution to art?
Ans: “Untutored genius who created a paradise” was Nek Chand. He was an eighty year old creator – director who made the world famous Rock Garden in Chandigarh. He used everything from a tin to sink or anything which he felt as an art form. One of his famous creations are ‘Women by the Waterfall’.
Talking about the Text
1. Discuss “The Emperor may rule over the territory he has conquered, but only the artist knows the way within.”
Ans: The statement means that the Emperor rules over the territory which he has conquered and have the power but the artist knows the path and mysterious work of the universe. The artist can go beyond the materialistic appearance of objects. No matter how powerful the Emperor was, the artist’s true art form can be seen the way he wants to show them.
2. Discuss “The landscape is an inner one, a spiritual and conceptual space.”
Ans: The statement ‘The landscape is an inner one, a spiritual and conceptual space’ means that a Chinese artist wants the viewer to enter his mind rather than borrowing his eyes to view his art piece.
This requires both physical and mental participation. Viewer can enter the painting from any point and travel from one point to another point. As it is not a real one, it is an inner, spiritual and abstract space of the artist.
Thinking about Language
1. Find out the correlates of Yin and Yang in other cultures.
Ans: In Indian culture, Yin which is receptive and female part and Yang which is Masculine and male part are known as ‘Maya’ and ‘Brahma’. Nature is the Yin and God is the creator of the universe.
Likewise Yin-Yang, the two combination of Maya and Brahma creates a world.
2. What is the language spoken in Flanders?
Ans: French language is spoken in Flanders which is situated in Belgium.
Landscape of the Soul Lesson Grammar Exercises
The following common words are used in more than one sense.
Examine the following sets of sentences to find out what the words, ‘panel’ and ‘essence’ mean in different contexts.
1. (i) The masks from Bawa village in Mali look like long panels of decorated wood.
(ii) Judge H. Hobart Grooms told the jury panel he had heard the reports.
(iii) The panel is laying the groundwork for an international treaty.
(iv) The glass panels of the window were broken.
(v) Through the many round tables, workshops and panel discussions, a consensus was reached.
(vi) The sink in the hinged panel above the bunk drains into the head.
2. (i) Their repetitive structure must have taught the people around the great composer the essence of music.
(ii) Part of the answer is in the proposition; but the essence is in the meaning.
(iii) The implications of these schools of thought are of practical essence for the teacher.
(iv) They had added vanilla essence to the pudding.
1. (i) Board of decorated wood
(ii) Group of people selected to give unanimous verdict on a legal case
(iii) Group of experts
(iv) Window panes
(v) Group discussion
(vi) a flat board fixed with a hinged
2. (i) the intrinsic quality of something which determines its character
(ii) The main part
(iii) Practical importance
(iv) An extract obtained from vanilla plant and used for flavouring agent
Landscape of the soul Extra Question Answers
Q1. Elaborate upon the central idea of the lesson Landscape of the Soul.
A1. The chapter is divided into two parts and it tells us about art and culture through various stories. The first part is about a popular Chinese painter, Wu Daozi, who lived during the 8th century and painted to adorn and increase the beauty of the walls of the palace of the then emperor Xuanxong of the Tang Dynasty.
Wu painted beautiful scenery with lofty mountains, waterfalls, thick and green foresters, and blue skies with people living in harmony and brotherhood. He painted a very utopian style of painting and a cave at the foot of a mountain that was haunted by a spirit.
When Wu Daozi was showing his art to the king, he clapped to open the cave where he disappeared. The author explained that it was the knowledge possessed by the artist. Only the masters know the way within and can go deep inside to get the real essence of the art piece.
Similarly, one Chinese painter did not paint a dragon’s eye, as he feared it would turn real and fly away. Next, we have the third part about a blacksmith named Quentin Metsys, who falls in love with the daughter of a painter. He knew his father wouldn’t accept their relationship so he painted a fly on his board. Later on, the author also talks about Sanshui, mountain water.
Finally, the second part of the lesson, i.e. Getting Inside ‘ Outsider Art’ by Brinda Suri, explains the concept of “Art brut”. Art brut means the art by the people who have no formal education in this field, still they possess some talent to show. She refers to the ones who think out of the box and do not follow the normal standards. She has given an example of Rock Garden situated in Chandigarh as a form of art brut.
Q2. Describe the landscape as done in the beginning of the story.
A2. The painting described in the beginning of the lesson is by Wu Daozi. It had wonderful scenes, discovering forests, high mountains, waterfalls, clouds floating in an immense sky, men on hilly paths, birds in flight. There was a cave at the foot of the mountain where lived a spirit. The painter clapped his hands, and the entrance to the cave opened. He said, “The inside is splendid, beyond anything words can convey. Please let me show Your Majesty the way.” The painter entered the cave; but the entrance closed behind him, and before the astonished Emperor could move or utter a word, the painting had vanished from the wall. Not a trace of Wu Daozi’s brush was left — and the artist was never seen again in this world.
Q3. What do you understand by the term illusionistic likeness?
A3. It refers to an adjective or the technique of using pictorial methods in order to deceive the eye. The reference is to an illusion created by the semblance of something.
We can say that any painting which seems real or in a way is able to make us feel it to be real; can be counted as one to create illusionistic likeness.
Q4. What is the middle void? Why is it important?
A4. Middle void is an essential third element, where the interaction of yin and yang takes place. This can be compared with the yogic practice of pranayama; breathe in, retain, breathe out – the suspension of breath is the Void where meditation occurs. The Middle Void is essential – nothing can happen without it; hence it is an important white, unpainted space in the Chinese landscape. This is also where Man finds a fundamental role. In that space between Heaven and Earth, he becomes the conduit of communication between both poles of the Universe. His presence is essential, even if it’s only suggested; far from being lost or oppressed by the lofty peaks, he is, in Francois Cheng’s wonderful expression, “the eye of the landscape”.
Q5. What made the artist give consent to his daughter’s marriage to the blacksmith?
A5. The artist did not want his daughter to marry a blacksmith.
One day Quinten Metsys, the blacksmith sneaked into the painter’s studio and painted a fly on his latest panel, with such delicate realism that the master tried to swat it away before he realised what had happened. Quinten was immediately admitted as an apprentice into his studio and the artist gave consent for the marriage too as he was really impressed by the talent shown by the blacksmith.
Q6. How was the king’s view different from that of the painter?
A6. There was a remarkable difference between the views of the two. The Emperor is the ruler of a kingdom. He has the authority and power to govern it. But it is only an artist who understands the nature of the world that the Emperor rules. This idea is brought up in the tale about Wu Daozi’s painting. Wu Daozi was commissioned by the Emperor to paint a landscape. The emperor, in awe of the painting, appreciated only its outer appearance. According to the painter, a spirit dwelled in the cave of the painting at the foot of the mountain. The painter clapped his hand to show the Emperor the inner beauty of the painting. The entrance to the cave opened and both the artist and the painting vanished forever. This shows that the artist had a spiritual insight and understood the working of mysterious ways of the universe. Only the artist knew the path and the method of liberation from the framework of the body that the Emperor failed to acquire. Therefore, the author says that it is only the artist who knows the way within the territory that the Emperor has conquered.
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