Discover the ‘Jianghu’ State of Mind With Photographer Chuqiao Liu

Jianghu (江湖), which literally translates to ‘rivers and lakes,’ is not easily explained in the Western lexicon. Chuqiao Liu’s photographs, though, are a visual exploration of the term’s spirit.

Liu, who is based in Guangzhou and Glasgow, has a unique style grounded in a modern interpretation of jianghu.

Nowadays, jianghu generally refers to a specific milieu and rebellious state of mind associated with Chinese  wuxia stories.

Wuxia is a genre of film and fiction that primarily focuses on the martial arts; jianghu describes the historic, mythic, and sometimes criminal universe in which these stories take place.

However, the term also refers to a passiveness where legitimacy and law and order are concerned. Those in a jianghu state of mind also insist on unique social governance and/or believe in staying in touch with the grassroots of the community.

An important formative source for jianghu was the 14th century text Water Margin (水滸傳), about a group of noble outlaws who rebelled against a corrupt government.

Liu’s style evokes the very essence of jianghu by conveying the contrasts between life’s conventional rulebook and reality. Learn more about Chinese photographers by clicking the button below.