Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Han Dynasty: Zhang Zhi 汉:张芝

Zhang Zhi (?-192) was a Chinese calligrapher during the Han Dynasty. Born in Jiuquan, Gansu, he was a pioneer of the modern cursive script.
It is said that Zhang Zhi was so diligent in his calligraphy practice that the pond by his home was turned inky. He even practiced calligraphy on his clothes. These examples testify that the perfection is not the work of a short time. There is a Chinese saying that ‘one-hundred-day effort will not yield result in calligraphy’. That is to say, calligraphy is a lifetime pursuit that cannot be accomplished in one hundred days.
Even Wang Xizhi, the greatest master of calligraphy in Chinese history, said his Cursive calligraphic script was not as good as Zhang Zhi’s. It is therefore no surprise that Zhang Zhi was traditionally honoured as the Sage of Cursive Script.
A catchphrase is attributed to him: ‘Too busy to write cursively’, which shows that the execution of cursive script, though originally invented for the sake of time-saving, requires a tranquil frame of mind.
Unfortunately, there are not many of Zhang Zhi's calligraphic works available today. Guan Jun Tie and Zhong Nian Tie are regarded as Zhang Zhi's calligraphy.
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张芝 (?-192) 是中国汉朝书法家。出生于甘肃的酒泉,是草书的先驱者。
据说张芝勤奋练习书法,把家旁的水池都给弄黑了。他还在他的衣服上炼字。这些例子是说明写好字不是短时间的事。俗语说:‘百日不能精书法。’就是说,书法是终身的事,不能在一百天内就能学好。
中国书法史上最伟大的书法家王羲之也自认自己的草书比不上张芝。张芝被认为是草圣,那就不足为怪了。
‘匆匆不暇草书’这句话据说是张芝说的。可见创造草书的原意是要节省时间,但是要写好草书,却须要有平静的心,不能匆匆忙忙。
不幸,张芝传世作品不多。一般认为冠军帖与终年帖是张芝的书法。

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