‘Du Fu is very busy’– Netizens have fun with photoshopping portrait of ancient Chinese poet

March 26, 2012Jing GaoOne Comment, , , , , , , , , ,

From Baidu, Sina Weibo

“It is said that today, Du Fu is very busy. He rode a motorcycle before switching to a white horse. He sells watermelons after he delivered bottled water.” A portrait of Du Fu in the Chinese literature textbook has recently been the inspiration of a slew of photoshop masterpieces, while the celebration of his 1300th birthday is approaching. “Du Fu is busy” is one of the top ten trending topics on Sina Weibo until today.

Du Fu, born in 712 AD in Tang Dynasty, is widely regarded as one of the greatest Chinese poets, who is particularly versed in interweaving historic accounts into classic Chinese poetry, which has distinct conciseness and a rhyme scheme. All Chinese who have received primary education have learned his poems.

While Chinese netizens are so immersed in the mass production of parody portraits of Du Fu, some are very unhappy. Ma Xinchao, head of The Poets’ Association of Henan Province, said that “The spirits of Du Fu are the glory of our nation. We will never tolerate any denigration of Du Fu’s image.”

Ma said that Du Fu is one of the very few poets in the past 1,300 years who really spoke for the people at the bottom rung of the social hierarchy. His classic phrases, including the highly cited “Wine and meat rot behind vermilion gates while at the roadside people freeze to death, (朱门酒肉臭,路有冻死骨)” are all outcries on behalf of the grassroots.

Chinese netizens really have a thing about photoshopping. Last year, a picture of a high school student who wears glasses and smiles to the camera has become the subject of the art of photo parody. He uploaded the picture himself to seek help from netizens with beautifying his lips. However, his smile is so broad and compelling, netizens dubbed him “Teeth-revealing Brother” (lu chi ge, 露齿哥) and Bucktoothed Brother (bao ya ge, 龅牙哥), and have begun altering his and his classmates’ images with software to depict anime characters and celebrities.

In 2006, a 16-year-old boy who looked askance at the camera at a traffic security activity arranged by his school fell victim. His images were so thick on the ground that he became an Internet icon. He was then nicknamed by netizens as Xiao Pang, or Little Fatty. ”I felt awful when I found my picture edited into different images three years ago,” said Xiao Pang, a Shanghai native, ”I didn’t mind that netizens edited my picture as a joke, but I dislike those who change my pictures into low-class ones, like putting my face onto a naked dancing girl,” he said.

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Original Portrait of Du Fu (712-770)

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Note: head of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao superimposed on Du Fu’s body.

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“Li Bai, take me home!” Li Bai was a contemporary of Du Fu and a poet who enjoyed an even higher reputation than Du Fu.

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Li Bai and Du Fu. Li Bai was a contemporary of Du Fu and a poet who enjoyed an even higher reputation than Du Fu.

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“Li Bai and his like are very disturbing.”  Li Bai was a contemporary of Du Fu and a poet who enjoyed an even higher reputation than Du Fu.

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1 comment to “‘Du Fu is very busy’– Netizens have fun with photoshopping portrait of ancient Chinese poet”

  1. [...] At least one of these Du Fus you have never seen, I can promise you that. “Netizens have fun with photoshopping portrait of ancient Chinese poet.” [Ministry of Tofu] [...]

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