Thursday, July 9, 2009

Xuan ShiBiao:The Masterpiece from Heaven 天下神品《宣示表》

Zhong Yao (151-230) is an important calligrapher in the history of Chinese calligraphy as he has great influence on Wang Xizhi, who is considered to be the sage of Chinese calligraphy. Zhong’s calligraphic works are said to be elegant and yet plain, orderly and artistic. His handwritings definitely improved the transition from clerical script (lishu) to a new look standard script (kaishu), and he was the forerunner of Wang Xizhi’s style of regular script.
However, very few of his authentic works left, and most of the works attributed to him were actually the works of calligraphers of later generations. Among Zhong Yao’s works handed down from ancient times, only two of them are authentic in style. One is the memorial to the throne of Emperor Wendi, which was written in the second year of Wei Wendi in 221. The script is now known as Xuan Shi Biao.
It is said that the calligraphy was collected by Wang Dao at the end of the Western Jin dynasty. In chaos caused by war, he hid the book in his cloths and fled to the south. Later he passed the calligraphic technique to Lady Wei, who passed it to Wang Xizhi, Wang Xianzhi and Yang Xin successively. Zhong’s writing technique thus became the criterion when studying calligraphy.
It had been collected successively by courts and folk connoisseurs of the Tang, Song and Qing dynasties. Unfortunately, the memorial was plundered by a British marine during the invasion the Eight-power Allied Forces; then it was bought back at a very high price by Huo Qiu and Pei Jingfu. But it was stolen unexpectedly later. The thief, afraid of being discovered, buried the work in the ground. Thereafter nobody knows where it has been. The script we see today is a photo-offset copy.
Although it was written in small regular script, the strokes and ways of writing come clearly into view. The calligraphy, with square form and curved turnings, is steady, slightly flat, and well-structured. It is highly valued by late generations as ‘masterpiece from heaven’ or ‘best calligraphy in China’.

No comments:

Post a Comment