Developed during the mid-nineteenth century in China, the bapo “eight brokens” painting genre combines ingeniously realistic depictions of antique documents, such as calligraphies, rubbings, paintings, and pages from old books, sometimes alongside everyday contemporary ephemera including advertisements, receipts, and postmarked envelopes. The resulting seemingly haphazard, overlapping compositions contain coded reflections on the decay of cultural traditions, or wishes for the recipient’s good fortune.

This book explores the origins of bapo in Chinese visual culture and traces how it blossomed into an intriguing and inventive tradition in the hands of many artists.


About the Author

Nancy Berliner is Wu Tung Curator of Chinese Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.