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What Is the Influence of Wang Xizhi’s Calligraphy upon His Followers?

Autor:   •  October 20, 2016  •  Term Paper  •  2,185 Words (9 Pages)  •  144 Views

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Introduction

Chinese characters are not just used for communication, but also has been developed into a kind of Chinese fine art in the thousands of years of Chinese history. Calligraphy is the essence of Chinese culture, people believe that to build up a person, one must master good calligraphy skills. Chinese people believe calligraphy will represent one’s inner mind. Therefore, one of the assessment include in the examination of Keju – which is hold for the Chinese royal court to select talents for thousand years – is the calligraphy. Just like creating a painting, sculpture, and poetry, Chinese people strive to make the scripts as beautiful and elegant as they can. Wang Xizhi as known as ‘the Sage of Chinese calligraphy’ (the Confucius and Mencius of Chinese calligraphy) in China, has a status equal that of Bach, Michelangelo, or Shakespeare in the West. The calligraphic skills demonstrate the calligrapher’s cultural background, artistic level and sentiments. Wang Xizhi’s calligraphy are famous not only because the aesthetic point but also because his nobleness. The comment ‘reach the acme of the perfection’ made by Li Shiming – the Taizong of Tang Dynasty to Wang Xizhi’s calligraphy is also a description to Wang’s moral quality.

After thousands of years, many styles and schools of Chinese Calligraphy had been developed. There are most commonly seen calligraphy styles of Zhuan, Li, Kai, Xing and Cao. Kai style (Regular style), is also called Zhenshu, is nowadays a must learn for the beginners. It is because Kai style’s strokes are more systematically standardized than the other styles and the Kai style Chinese characters is more regularly shaped and easier being identified. People are tending to learn calligraphy by look toward the calligraphy masters’ scripts. Wang Xizhi’s “Preface of the Orchid Pavilion” (“Lanting Preface”) in Kai and Xing style is the most famous work in the Chinese history. Although it only survives in only several competing copies created in the later generation it still become the most important script for Chinese people to learn calligraphy.

Wang Xizhi is the most famous Chinese calligrphier in the history. Many had analized the unique characteristics of Wang Xizhi’s calligraphy. However, few had concluded how his calligraphy had bring the influrence to the future development of Chinese calligraphy. The influence of Wang Xizhi’s calligraphy upon his followers will be explored in this essay. Wang Xizhi changed the acient style of Chinese calligraphy - besides foces on the Chinese characters’ straucture, his free style brings the artistic concept to the calligraphy. It become a expression of the spirit of the calligraphers and this brings critical change to the developmen of Chinese calligraphy. Wang Xizhi’s brushwork was finer and delicater than acient style, his style had being copied in hondruders years later in the Tang and Song Dynasty, and finally become one of the classic style of Chinese calligraphy.

There will be a brief introduction of the biography of Wang Xizhi and his son Wang Xianzhi, the ‘Two Wangs’ who have great impact to the Chinese calligraphy. The calligraphy style of Wang Xizhi and the famous calligrapher Zhong Yao - the founder of Kai style - will be compared, through the comparation, the importance of Wang Xizhi’s motify to the Kai style will be proposed. The essay will discuess the spreading of Two Wang’s calligraphy style as Tang Dynasty as an example to investgate how the followers of Wang Xizhi regarded to his scripts.

The Sage of Chinese Calligraphy

Wang Xizhi (303-361) and his son Wang Xianzhi (344-386) traditionally referred to as the Sage of Calligraphy. Chan (2010) believed that Wang Xizhi’s calligraphy had led the creation trends through the Jin, Tang, Song and Qing dynasties.

Figure 1 Portrait of Wang Xizhi

He was born in Linyi, Shandong Province in a noble family, he spent most of his life in the present-day Shaoxing, Zhejiang. His grandfather and two brothers were senior official of the imperial court. His family was a calligraphic family that 20 out of 100 famous calligraphers of the Jin dynasty were of the Wang clan as shown in the historical records. He learned the art of calligraphy from Wei Shuo, commonly addressed as Lady Wei – a famous female calligrapher of Jin Dynasty. He excelled in every script but particularly in the semi-cursive script.

Wang Xizhi had seven children, all of them were notable calligraphers. The most distinguished one was his youngest son, Wang Xianzhi (344-386). The father and son are commonly referred to as the ‘Two Wangs’. Wang Xianzhi started practice writing at age 5, just like his father, he also learned from Lady Wei. He was once an official of the imperial court, of higher rank than his father. He was a man of integrity like his father. There is a legend that in his teenage, he told his father that the Zhang cursive script was too restricted, and proposed developing a new style midway between the cursive and running scripts. His Duck-head Pill Copybook in the running script contains 15 characters in two lines. All the Characters are natural and smooth.

Figure 2 The Duck-head Pill Copybook in Xing style by Wang Xianzhi

Wang changes Kai Style

Figure 3 Carving copy of Zhong Yao's 'The statment of recommending Ji Zhi' in Kai style

Figure 4 Song Dynasty Carving copy of Wang Xizhi's 'Huangting Classic' in Kai style

The period of Wei, Jin, Southen and Northen Dynasty is an important period of the phylogeny of Chinese calligraphy. The Chinese society become chaos during this period, it becomes maybe the most painful days for Chinese people. However, this was a period of the most freely liberated minds, a most passionate and intellegent era at the same time. For the ancient styles, the shape and structure of Chinese characters in calligraphy are more fouced. This had been rised then schoolars and calligraphers are more focused on expressing the romatic charm and their personal temperament and spirituality. Wang Xizhi was once a petty official and then gave up the official life and live as a hermit and devote himself to calligraphy. He crossed the Yangtse River to visit famous mountains in North China in his middle age. He met many famous calligraphers and examined a lot of stele inscriptions. He studied calligraphic theory and developed a new natural and free style with cut-off but continuous strokes (Chen, 2010).

As we disscuessed before, Kai style was

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