Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ji Zhi Wen Gao: The Second Best Walking Script in the World 季侄文稿:天下第二行书

Ji Zhi Wen Gao (Funeral Address for Nephew Ji-ming) is written by Yan Zhenqing (709-785), a leading calligrapher of the Tang dynasty. It is said to be ‘the Second Best Walking Script in the World’.
Yan Zhenqing is popularly held as the only calligrapher who paralleled Wang Xizhi, the ‘Calligraphy Sage.’ He specialized in Kai Script and Cao Script, though he also mastered other writings well. His Yan-style of Kai Script, which brought Chinese calligraphy to a new realm, emphasized on stable strength, boldness and grandness. Because of his achievement in the Kai style, his Kai style calligraphy is known as the Yan-style.
Like most of the master calligraphers, Yan Zhenqing learned his skill from various calligraphers. Yan started by learning Chu Suiliang's calligraphy and later, he learned from Zhang Xu who is well known for his Cao style.
In 755, An Lushan, a military leader launched a revolt against the Tang dynasty. Yan’s brother Gaoqing and nephew Jiming were captured and killed by An Lushan cruelly. When Yan Zhenqing heard the news, he was filled with grief and indignation and he wrote a funeral oration for his brother and nephew. The draft of this oration is the famous Ji Zhi Wen Gao.
One can read and feel from the calligraphy that an intense emotion of sadness seems to break forth from the tip of his brush and this has led to the emotion expressed uncontrollably that grief and indignation appear naturally between the lines.
It is said that this master piece is the second best walking style calligraphy after Wang Xizhi’s Lan Ting Xu. However, it is obvious that the style of Lan Ting Xu is totally different from that of Ji Zhi Wen Gao. It's hard to say which one is the best, which one is the second best. Maybe we should say both are equally good.
‘季侄文稿’是唐代大书法家颜真卿 (709-785) 所写的。被誉为‘天下第二行书’。

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