Jingwei Filling Up the Sea / 精衛填海 / Jingwei Ausfüllen des Meeres
Jingwei Filling Up the Sea
Oil on Canvas
24" x 36"
Completed in 2008
Inventory # 3389.101.2008.09.009
© Matthew Felix Sun
For video presentation, please visit Fish Paintings by Matthew Felix Sun
Note: Published by Synchronized Chaos, an interdisciplinary art, poetry, literary, science, nature, cultural issues, and travel writing webzine, November 2009
Jingwei: Jingwei (simplified Chinese: 精卫; traditional Chinese: 精衛; pinyin: jīngwèi) is the name of a character in Chinese mythology. Originally the daughter of the emperor Yandi, she perished at a young age in the East Sea. After her death she chose to assume the shape of a bird in order to exact revenge upon the sea by bringing stones and small twigs from the mountains nearby over the sea in an effort to fill it up. Jingwei even has a short dialogue with the sea where the sea scoffs her, claiming that she wouldn't be able to fill it up even in a million years, whereupon she claims that she will then proceed to take ten million years, even one hundred million years, whatever it takes to fill up the sea so that others would not have to perish as she did.
The story itself is recorded in the 山海经 Shan Hai Jing.
From this myth comes the Chinese expression 精卫填海 ("Jingwei filling the sea") meaning a symbol of dogged determination and perseverance in the face of seemingly impossible odds.
Professor Manyuan Long from the University of Chicago named a new Drosophilia gene after Jingwei because it was - like the princess - 'reincarnated' with a new function and a new appearance (structure). Other related genes were named following the legend.