Zhao Shuru, a native of Ningbo in Zhejiang, was originally named Runxiang and had the style name Shuru. He was also named Shigang and had the late sobriquet Ernu laoren, being known to others as Shuru. He excelled at painting and calligraphy in the Bronze and Stone style, particularly in the depiction of horses. In late years he also specialized at flowers, birds, and insects done in fine lines.
This narrow hanging scroll depicts an old cedar sprawling across the composition, winding from the lower right to the upper left. On it is perched a paradise flycatcher (“colored-ribbon bird”), and below from the rocks sprout spirit fungus. Behind is also a cascade, forming a composition that does not follow convention, and the brush and ink is firm and steady. The word for “cedar” in Chinese is similar to that for “centennial,” and “ribbon” is a homonym for “longevity.” Along with the spirit fungus, said to prolong life, the title of this painting suggests a traditional birthday blessing.
This painting was purchased by the National Palace Museum in 1986.