Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bian Cai Sadly Lost the Authentic Lanting Xu 辩才痛失《兰亭序》

The calligraphy sage Wang Xizhi’s representative works include the ‘Inscription of Calmness’, the ‘Inscription of Crescent Moon’, the ‘Inscription of Clearing-Up After Snowing’, etc. Among them the most famous one is the Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion written in walking style (xing-shu). The preface of a collection of poems written by some friends when gathering at the Orchid Pavilion (or Lanting) near Shaoxing of Zhejiang Province for the Spring Purification Festival, it comprises 28 lines and 324 characters, with each character in different shapes. The original is lost, but there are a number of fine tracing copies and rubbings.
The original copy of Lanting Xu was given to Wang Xizhi’s son Wang Xianzhi. After Wang Xianzhi, the calligraphy was lost for nearly 300 years until in the year 636, the emperor of Tang dynasty Taizong obtained it through cunning means from the monk Bian Cai, who was a disciple of Zhi Yong, an seventh-generation descendent of Wang Xizhi.
A story recorded by He Yanzhi and collected in the Taiping Guangji (Tai Ping Anthologies) tells how Emperor Taizong obtained the original copy from Bian Cai.

Half-way through his reign, Emperor Taizong of Tang decided that he would learn the calligraphy of two Wangs, i.e. Wang Xizhi and Wang Xianzhi. He had collected all their calligraphic works, except the Lanting Xu, which is known to be the best calligraphy of walking style. It was later learned that the authentic work was in the hands of Monk Bian Cai. Tang Taizong sent emissaries on three occasions to retrieve the text, but each time, Biancai responded that it had been lost during troubled times and he had no idea what it was now.
Prime Minister Fang Xuanling recommended that imperial historian Xiao Yi be despatched to retrieve it from Bian Cai by all means. Xiao Yi disguised as a wandering scholar, and he quickly became a good friend of Bian Cai, as they shared common interests in playing chess, citing poetry, talking about painting and calligraphy. One day, Bain Cai can’t help showing off the authentic Lanting Xu that was hidden behind the roof beam. Xiao Yi later stole the copy and brought it back to the capital for Emperor Taizong.
After he got it, Emperor Taizong cherished Lanting Xu as if he had found a most rare treasure. He ordered that copies to be made for giving away to members of royal families and his court officials. He said to his son on his death bed, ‘I know you are a son of filial piety. I would like to request a favour from you and I am sure you will not disappoint me. Will you?’
With that, the authentic Lanting Xu was buried with the emperor in his mausoleum.
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书圣王羲之的代表作品有《平安帖》,《初月帖》,《快雪时晴帖》,等。其中最出名的是以行书为兰亭聚会诗集而写的序文。这篇春天在浙江绍兴的兰亭修禊时,友人创作诗文集的序文共有28行,324子,字字情态不同。原本已失,但是有不少很好的摹本、拓本流传于世。
王羲之把原本传给儿子王献之。王献之以后的大约300年原本不知所终,直到公元636年唐太宗从辩才和尚那里以狡猾的方法获得。辩才是王羲之第七代后人智永的徒弟。
《太平广记》收何延之《兰亭记》记载唐太宗任何从辩才手中获得《兰亭序》:

至贞观中,太宗锐意学二王书,仿摹真迹备尽,唯被世人称为‘天下第一行书’的《兰亭序》未获。后访知在辩才和尚(王家的七世孙智永的弟子)处,三次召见,辩才诡称经乱散失不知所在。
房玄龄荐监察御史萧翼以智取之。萧翼隐匿身份,乔装潦倒书生,投其所好,弈棋吟咏,论书作画成忘年交,后辩才夸耀所藏,出示其悬于屋梁之《兰亭序》真迹,《兰亭序》遂为萧翼乘隙私取此帖长安复命。
据说,唐太宗李世民得到《兰亭序》真迹后爱不释手,太宗命令拓数本赐太子诸王近臣。
临终,语李治:“吾欲从汝求一物,汝诚孝也,岂能违吾心也?汝意如何?”
于是,《兰亭序》真迹葬入昭陵。

2 comments:

  1. 我有两个疑问:
    1) 纸張的寿命有多长?如果兰亭序沒葬入昭陵,可否传至今日吗?

    2) 如可,它会对书壇产生怎样的影响呢?

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  2. 我不是这方面的专家,只能够提供一些意见以供参考。
    1。据说一些纸张,如果有理想的保存条件,估计几千年没问题。不受潮、不受热、防强光、防蛀,要保留几百年或千年也是很容易的。《平复帖》据说是最早保留下来的写在纸上的珍品,距今也大概有接近两千年的时间了。
    2。能够看到真品,自然比看到模仿作品更能体味到‘魏晋风流’,那是可以肯定的。这对我们研究书法的技及其发展自然比较有用。这就是为什么有人认为碑比帖真实。但是,就如《平复帖》一样,经过了千多年,肯定会留下大自然的再创痕迹,我们可能感受到是更多的幽古之情。

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