Thursday, March 18, 2010
Zhi Yong: A News Maker? 智永：炒作大王？
Zhi Yong was a descendent of Wang Xizhi, the sage of Chinese calligraphy. He had in his possession many original works of Wang, including the ‘Preface to the Lanting Collection of Poems’ (Lan Ting Xu), which is reputed to be the best walking script in the calligraphy history. Naturally, he practiced diligently from this masterpiece, as well as from Wang Xizhi’s other works.
Zhang Huai Guan, the famous calligraphy theoretician told a number of stories about Zhi Yong in his book entitled ‘Judging Calligraphy’.
His skill as a calligrapher brought him fame and the demand for his calligraphy was great. His was best at writing the cursive style (choshu), which was known for being smooth and beautiful, moist yet vigorous. So great was his fame his house was always full of people who came to ask for his calligraphic works. The situation was so bad that his doorway or the threshold was damaged with deep hole by crush of people, so he had to cover it with iron sheets and bars. Zhi Yong’s nickname thus became ‘The Iron Threshold’.
However, there are those who believe that all these were some of his deliberate news-making shows aim to make him famous. If that is the case, Zhi Yong probably is one of the most successful new-makers in the history of Chinese calligraphy.
永公住吴兴永欣寺， 积年学书，后有秃笔头十瓮，每瓮皆数石。人来觅书并请题额者如市。所居户限 为之穿穴，乃用铁叶裹之。人谓为“铁门限”。后取笔头瘗之，号为“退笔冢”。