Thursday, September 17, 2009

Zhao Ji: The Emperor Calligrapher 赵佶:皇帝书法家

In the Chinese history, many emperors loved calligraphy and some of them became highly accomplished in the field. Speaking of emperor calligraphers, Zhao Ji (1082-1135) or Emperor Huizong of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1279) immediately comes to mind. He reigned from 1100 to 1126.
He was a skilled poet, painter, calligrapher and musician. He sponsored numerous artists at his court, and the catalogue of his imperial painting collection lists over 6,000 known paintings.
Because of his involvement with these pursuits, Huizong neglected the army, and Song China became increasingly weak and at the mercy of foreign enemies. In Jan 1127, the Jin on the northern border entered Bianliang (Kaifeng), the capital of the Northern Song Empire, and captured Huizong, his son Emperor Qinzong, as well as the entire imperial court and harem. In May 1127, Huizong was deported to northern Manchuria, where he spent the last eight years of his life as a captive in the small city of Wuguo (in present-day Yilan County, Heilongjiang Province). He died on 4 June 1135, at the age of fifty-two.
During his 25 years of governing, Zhao Ji was so addicted to calligraphy and art that he devoted little time to knotty political issues. He first made cuju (a prototype of football) star Gao Qiu his chief military commander, and then handed almost all governance to a few treacherous court officials, while he devoted himself to art and culture.
As a ruler he was incompetent, and allowed his officials to make decisions which hastened the demise of his empire, but his artistic talents and achievements were unparalleled. He invented the "Slender Gold" style of calligraphy. The name "Slender Gold" came from the fact that Huizong's writing style, comprising thin and straight strokes, resembled gold filament, twisted and turned.
His horizontal strokes ended with hooks, the vertical strokes with points. His slanting strokes were sharp as knives, and the vertical hooks as slim and tall as a fine young man. His style reflected a pursuit of perfection while obeying regulations. His calligraphy is unconventional and original, the strokes are stretched to their extreme limits and the result is a fascinating dynamism that until today stands out as an independent and striking interpretation of Chinese characters.
This style of calligraphy is a sharp diversion from anything seen before and in a way shows that although Huizong was not very courageous in the battle field, he certainly had the courage to innovate in the field of aesthetics. It can be said that his writing style reflected his rule as his endless pursuit of beauty in form made him overlook the overall setting, indicating that he was deficient in resolution and persistence.
在中国的历史里,很多皇帝爱好书法,其中不少在这门艺术里的成就还是很高的。说到皇帝书法家,使人立刻想到北宋(960-1279)的徽宗赵佶(1082-1135)。他在位于1100 - 1126。
由于他对这类事物的追求,以致忽略了军事,宋朝日益衰弱,为外敌所摆布。1127年1月,在北边疆的金攻入汴梁(开封),逮捕了徽宗、他的儿子钦宗、整个朝廷文武官员与后宫女眷。1127年5月,徽宗被流放到北方的满洲,这那里的小城市五国城 (今黑龙江省依兰县)度过了人生最后的八年的俘虏生活。他死于1135年6月4日,享年52岁。
作为一个统治者,他是无能的,他允许他的官员作决策,加速了王朝的灭亡,可是他艺术才能与成就却是无与伦比的。他创造了‘瘦金体’( 瘦筋体)书体。之所以称为瘦金体是因为徽宗的书写风格包含了瘦与直的线条,犹如金丝、扭曲与削转。

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