Confucian thought offers the educated man two moral alternatives: to serve in the bureaucracy or retire to a contemplative life in the countryside. Many Chinese narrative paintings reflect on the conflict between these two accepted paths. A new exhibition in the Asian Galleries explores this narrative strain in Chinese and, later, Japanese art. The exhibition begins with a portrait of a still-honored military strategist, Zhuge Liang (AD 181–234), who came out of retirement to attempt to keep China united in a time of warfare nearly two thousand years ago. In contrast, a long handscroll depicts scenes from the life of T'ao Yuan-Ming, an equally venerated scholar and poet who, disappointed in his ambitions, left a government post to return home and tend his chrysanthemums. As seen in several paintings in the galleries, depictions of chrysanthemums came to symbolize retirement "from the dusty world." Echoes of Zhuge Liang's long-ago battles resounding from the sides of the Red Cliff on the Yangzi River were set down in two long poems by the famed eleventh-century poet Su Dongpo, himself exiled from the capitol, and the scene became one of the most frequently depicted in China. In eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Japan, infusions of Confucian thought from China became increasingly important to bunjin (scholars) who were excluded from the shogunal administration and frustrated by edicts restricting occupations and movement between social classes. The conflicted images of service and retirement that accompanied Confucian moral narratives were imported along with Chinese poetry and essays, and developed new layers of meaning in Japanese art.