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Emergence of Personal Creative Styles: Calligraphy of the Song Dynasty

Emergence of Personal Creative Styles: Calligraphy of the Song Dynasty
Heiseikan Thematic Exhibition Room   October 2, 2012 (Tue) - November 25, 2012 (Sun)

  
Letter in Running Script, By Wu Ju, Southern Song dynasty, 12th century, China (Gift of Mr. Takashima Kikujiro)

In Song-dynasty China, in contrast to the court culture from the Wei and Jin dynasties to the Tang dynasty, scholar-officials who had passed the government exams began forming the core of learning and the arts. This also brought qualitative changes to calligraphic expression. Instead of pursuing perfection in calligraphy as was done in the Tang dynasty, Song-dynasty calligraphers started prioritizing people's individuality and spiritual nature.

Cai Xiang, Su Shi, Huang Tingjian and Mi Fu, who were all active in the Northern Song dynasty, are revered as the "Four Great Masters of the Northern Song." Cai Xiang persevered with traditional styles to produce highly elegant calligraphy. In contrast, Su Shi and Huang Tingjian created their own free and personal styles, as though in celebration of human individuality. Mi Fu closely studied famous works from throughout history and approached a level of calligraphy that resonated with works of Jin-dynasty calligraphers.

In the Southern Song dynasty, though there was still an influence from these four masters of the Northern Song dynasty, styles of calligraphy soon flourished that were unique to the new dynasty. Zhu Xi, who prospered as a scholar, created frank expressions of his feelings through calligraphy, without being bound by ancient styles. Fragments of his work were fiercely sought by later generations. Zhang Jizhi, who attained deep knowledge of Zen (Chan) Buddhism, developed a pure, robust style that was largely esteemed by Zen monks in Japan.

This year marks one thousand years since the birth of Cai Xiang (1012-67), one of the Four Great Masters of the Northern Song. Through calligraphic masterpieces and rubbings from the Song dynasty, this tenth joint exhibition between Tokyo National Museum and the Taito City Calligraphy Museum overviews the course of calligraphy from the Northern Song to the Southern Song dynasty.

 

Major works in this exhibition
* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Manuscript of Epitaphs for Wang Zhong and Shi Fu, By Huang Tingjian, Northern Song dynasty, 11th century, China (On exhibit through October 14, 2012)
Verse in Gratitude for a Gift of Imperial Calligraphy in Regular Script, By Cai Xiang, Northern Song dynasty, dated 1053 (Lent by Taito City Calligraphy Museum, Tokyo, On exhibit through October 28, 2012)
Qunyutang Mitie Copybook, By Mi Fu, Stele: Northern Song dynasty, 11th century, China (Gift of Mr. Takashima Kikujiro, On exhibit from October 30, 2012)
Three Writings in Running Script, By Mi Fu, Northern Song dynasty, 11th - 12th century, China (On exhibit from October 30, 2012 through November 11, 2012)
Four Writings in Cursive Script, By Mi Fu, Northern Song dynasty, dated 1097 - 1099, China (Important Cultural Property, Lent by Osaka Municipal Museum of Art, On exhibit from November 20, 2012)
Poems by Li Bai in Running Script, By Su Shi, Northern Song dynasty, dated 1093, China (Important Cultural Property, Lent by Osaka Municipal Museum of Art, On exhibit from November 20, 2012)

Related Events

<Gallery Talks>   Calligraphy of Song-dynasty China
Heiseikan Thematic Exhibition Room  October 23, 2012 (Tue)   14:00 - 14:30   RESERVE_DAY
Heiseikan Auditorium  November 23, 2012 (Fri)   13:30 - 15:00   RESERVE_DAY