These are Wuchang fish (Megalobrama amblycephala), native to the middle Yangtze River basin in China. The fish bears the name of the city, Wuchang, located on the Yangtze’s east bank in Hubei province. This city, now connected by bridges and merged with two other cities on the river’s west bank, forms modern-day Wuhan. The Wuchang yu is highly prized in China and is a famous dish served in Wuhan restaurants. It is an herbivorous fish that is widely cultivated in freshwater ponds. Apparently Mao Zedong enjoyed dining on this fish because he talks about doing so in the first line of his 1956 poem Swimming. The entire script of the poem, done in calligraphy on a scroll, accompanies the piece (see Mao’s poem, Gallery 7). This gyotaku was made using a fish purchased at a market in Wuhan, China after taking a ferry ride across the Yangtze in the same vicinity where Mao swam across.
Size: 32 x 22 inches (2007)
Return to Gallery 7.