Friday, March 11, 2011

Xue Ji: Stele of the Chan Master Xinxing 薛稷:信行禅师碑

‘Four Masters of Early Tang’ refers to Ouyang Xun, Yu Shinan, Chu Suiliang and Xue Ji.
Stele of the Chan Master Xinxing 信行禅师碑
Ouyang Xun is famous for his square, energetic and ‘steep’ writing, whereas Yu Shinan for his robust, rounded, and smooth brush strokes. Chu Suiliang and Xue Ji are known for the spare beauty and boniness of their style.
The four calligraphers’ works were models of the Tang calligraphy in brush using techniques and stroke writing rules. Among the four, Ouyang Xun and Yu Shinan created their new styles and developed the art of Chinese calligraphy into a new level; hence they had profound effect on later calligraphers.
Xue Ji was not only famous in calligraphy, but also skilful in painting, specialized in crane, the most popular bird in Chinese history and is a symbol of longevity and auspiciousness.
Xue Ji learned calligraphy from Chu Suiliang. Their calligraphic works are equally good and they both shared a similar style of writing. The saying was spread among the people at that time that “you can either buy Chu’s or Xue’s calligraphic works, it does not matter as their value will not depreciate.”
Unfortunately none of Xue Ji’s calligraphic works have been preserved until today, although the calligraphic work the ‘Stele of the Chan Master Xinxing’ is said to be written by him. The slender brushwork and the ‘open and airy’ character structure in this inscription had a direct influence on Liu Gongquan (778 – 865), master calligraphy of the Late Tang and foreshadowed the ‘slender gold’ style initiated by Zhao Ji (1082 – 1135), Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty. For this reason, Xue Ji found himself a position in the history of Chinese calligraphy.

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