Wang Qian came from the southern province of Zhejiang, where plum blossoms were a favorite motif of flower painters during the Ming period. The plum is long-lived; specimens said to be up to 1,000 years old are found in many places in China. The crooked and gnarled branches, young green shoots, and flowers are much admired. Furthermore, the physical toughness of the rugged old plum tree, which blooms in wintry desolation, symbolizes the ideal, secluded scholar, whose moral toughness makes him resilient. The inscription records the occasion of this careful rendering: I have recently received gifts of a poem from my distinguished relative Shizhai, chief advisor to the Prime Minister and I greatly appreciate his kindness. Using the same rhyme, I have taken the occasion to combine a poem with flowers in ink as an expression of our sincere friendship.There never was found such a flower in the NorthlandThe wave of a brush, a slanting branch expresses an image of thought.Pure, clean, exalted and natural, it surpasses all common plantsOne fitting to present the family of a retired statesman of the imperial court.The first day of winter (November 7) in the fifth year of Jingtai, being the cyclical year of jiaxu (1454). Greetings from your humble relative Wang Qian.