Some of the author's calligraphy
The following are some of author's hand copies of ancient calligraphy in their
original spirit. They are not tracing copies.
More calligraphy works
on author's page.
"Lan Ting" Prologue - An Appreciation of Chinese
Calligraphy By Siu-Leung Lee, PhD
The original Lan Ting Prologue, allegedly written by Wang Xi Zhi
at the prime of his calligraphy career (51 year old, 353 A.D.), is universally
recognized as the most important piece in the history of Chinese calligraphy.
The elegant Wang style, as fully represented by the original piece, has profound
influence on Asian calligraphy in China, Japan and Korea. Even to date, Japan
holds a bi-annual meeting commemorating the event of the literati gathering at
Lan Ting (original site in Zhejiang, China). The emperor Tang Taizong loved
Wang's calligraphy so much that he collected as many of Wang's original scrolls
as he could and ordered them buried with himself. Thus, the existing calligraphy
of Wang Xi Zhi including the Lan Ting Prologue are only preserved on stone
engravings or as replica copies by other calligraphy masters of the Tang
The ethical beauty of Chinese calligraphy, like music and
dance, transgresses language barriers. One may appreciate the visual impact of
the composition in its entirety, or feel the continuous flow of "Qi"
of the strokes in a balanced contrast of rhythmic movements. Nevertheless,
knowing the language may offer a better understanding. The following is a
translation of the Lan Ting Prologue :
" It is the 9th year of Yong He, in the beginning of late spring. We, all
the literati old and young, are gathering at Lan Ting (Orchid Pavilion) on the
northern slope of the Kuai Ji Hill. Amidst the gorgeous mountains and hills,
dense woods and slender bamboos, the sparkling winding stream is flowing by.
Seated in the midst of this scenery, short of the company of good music, we
regale every single toast and poem that put us in the mood of a free and subtle
" It is a fine day with lovely breezes. Behold the
magnificent universe with abundance of myriad beings. Stretch your sights and
relax your minds. It is the supreme bliss the eyes and ears can achieve. How
" While experiencing the ups and downs in our lives, we
may be wakened by thoughts while meditating in a small chamber. Or, we may let
go of ourselves in the open Nature. Choices plenty, tranquility or activity as
one prefers. I am contented with whatever happiness is brought forth, however
short the moment is. I am satisfied, not knowing that I am aging nor where I am
heading, I am tired.
" Things do change, only our feelings linger. What we
used to be fond of will become the past instantaneously. We can't help but to
cheer ourselves by recollection. Life, long or short, always come to an end. An
old saying has it that : 'Life and death are the ultimate things.' What a pain!
Every time I read about the writings of people from the past, I always sense
their feeling reflects my own. I can only lament but not know how to verbalize.
Life and death may be merely an illusion. Yet it is ridiculous to equalize
longevity with short-lived. The future generations will look upon us just like
we do our past. So, I document the lives of the contemporaries and their works.
Time has changed, yet the desire to express the feeling is the same. Those in
the future shall get what I mean when they read this article. "
I am grateful to Dr. Hao Chang (Ohio State University) for his valuable
comments on the translation.
Chinese Calligraphy Collection in Japan (rarely
(b=碑拓 rubbings; w=墨書 ink writing)
Appointment for Chan-ling-gyan(AD779) Ink on Silk In 1940, stored by the mayer of Beijing.
Lost after WWII. published Sho-dou, No.9-2,1940,Tokyo.
||Cheng Tao- Chao
Scription on the Rock of the PEAK, about Immortal
||黃庭堅 Huang Ting Chien(1045-1105)
Colophon to 5 horses painting. This was attached to [5 horses] drown by Li liu
mien(c.1040-1106). This was said to be fired in WWII. pl. source a reduced replica made in
||small seal script
||瓦 當 tile
||維天降靈 延元万年 天下??
Molded Pottery Roof tile Design.
titlepage of an album of lang-ting rubbing made in sung-dynasty.AD1807. official
||Warring State Period,
|Authentic Seal kept in Historical Museum in Beijing
||小篆 small seal script
||漢Han 200 BC
Seal collection in Fuii-Yurin-Kan, Kyoto, Japan Cinnerber on paper by a director of
Inscription of Gate-Pillar of Mr. Shen (AD120-130). Original Stele was in countryside in
Sichuan. A set of Two pillars was survived. A detail of one inscription. Official Style,
||Buddism Priest Feng-Tsang
A letter to a korean priest.(AD691-694) detail Ink on Paper. Prov. Tenri Museum, Nara,
||李斯 Li Shi ?
||Cheng Tao- Chao
Scription on STONE-SEAT detail. The last character of 9 charcters. 25x20cm for each
Traning calligraphy(1790). Ink and cinnaber on paper. A scholar Wan-Qi-Sun(1755-1817)
drilled calligraphy copying rubbing of former calligaraphers. His comment was wrtten by
Ode to Troops, attr. SAKU_SEI(239-303) Archaic-Cursive script. Ink on paper. Very old true
copy (?). At lease in 13th century, collection of the Imperial Court. This style likes
Fragments(3-4th century) unearthed in Tukmarakan Desert. pl. source a reproduction
published in 1920.
||隋 Sui Dynasty
Ode to Troops( detail) ink on paper. Second copy of the Ode, (maybe from a common original
in 3-4th century) Now lost or dissapeared. Collection of Qing Imperial Court. recorded and
engraved. Mi-you-ren(12th century) identified it to anonymous calligrapher in Sui-Dynasty.
Its style was similar to some 8-9 th century sutras discovered in DunHuang. Publised 1937,
||草Cao. Cursive Script
A letter, detail. Rubbing recently from original engraving in Anhui Museum. An old copy
was stored in Court in 18th century. I heard that it was lost during the collapse of the
puppet Manchurian Empire.
Scription to The BRICK Tower(AD658) Style is like the Chu-Sui-Liang(7th century). It was
unearthed in Wan-li period(1573-1619), and has lost. This rubbing was collected by
He-shao-ji(1799-1873) (pub. 1923,Shanghai)
mp;a mp;a mp;A circ;癒C矜其老
Recommendation of Mr. Chi, (detail). engraved from 15th century. Perhaps, from Sung
dynasty. In 1910s, a thief robbed from a large collector, and buried in soil. When someone
discovered. the scroll was rotten and destroyed. Recently this unclear plate was
published. Shu-feng, No.6, appendice, 1984, Shanghai
One of scriptions on the Ko-yang-cave in Longmen. This was dedicated to the deceased
father of the donar. The father was thought to be Fu-Chi :a brother of Empress Fu.
Yang Ning Shi
|唐 Tang (948 AD)
Lifestyle of Immortals. Ink on blue paper. An old copy (before 16th century), in Dai-to-ku
Calligraphy Museum, Tokyo. Two copies of this calligraphies survived and recorded from
17th century. Another in Palace Museum, Beijing was sometimes regarded autograph or better
verion. This copy was not easily published, because it was written on BLUE PAPER. Most
plates like ghosts.
||隸Li. Official script
||東漢East Han (185 AD)
曹全碑 Stele for Cao Quan Bei (a fragment of rubbing) A.D.185
Japanese colophon to the 1000 characters essay written in 7th century by Chi-yung. This
colophon was lost,now.
||董 其 昌Dong Qi Chang
||藏鬼神 呵禁不祥 An essay by a poet in
Tang-dynasty. Province: Osaka Manucipal Museum. Ink on silk.
Dong Gao(1740-1818) wrote an poem" spring coming" made by an
||東漢East Han (186 AD)
Rubbing ,19th century. Scriptions praised virtues of Chang Qian. Unearthed in early
||西 漢 West Han
Inscription on Incense burner (detail)
GIFs Contributed by Yoshitaka Takaki. Remark and research by Yoshitaka
Takaki and Siu-Leung Lee