Rubbings of Chinese Calligraphy: Transmission and Preservation
Ever since Calligraphy has been a celebrated art form, ink rubbing has contributed to the tradition by providing a means of transmitting and preserving works far beyond the likely lifespan of an ink and paper work. Although paper and ink became the standard media for calligraphy, the origins of Chinese writing in inscriptions was never forgotten. Even after writing styles began to emphasize the fluidity and movement that ink could provide, works were inscribed on stone so that they would not fall prey to the vagaries of time. More than this, inscribed works could be reproduced quite easily in the form of rubbings.
A Brief Biography of Yan Zhen Qing (顏真卿/Yen Chen Ch’ing)
As the Tang dynasty wore on, a figure arose who would redefine calligraphy, challenging even Wang Xi Zhi as the pre-eminent calligrapher. Yan Zhen Qing (709-785 CE) is sometimes known as the ‘second prophet’ of calligraphy. This status, just slightly behind Wang Xi Zhi, is more likely due to his later historical period than to any quantifiable difference in skill.
With a mother who was the Emperor Yinzong’s wet-nurse, Mi Fu grew up in the very center of the Chinese empire; knowing the Imperial family and mingling freely among the members of the Song Dynasty rulers. He was a very intelligent boy, particularly gifted in remembering and reciting poems, as well as calligraphy, although he despised formal training.
Art Becomes Classic – Blurring of Boundaries Between Academic and Amateur Painting in China
The end of Mongol rule and the re-establishment of an indigenous Chinese emperor in 1368 led to a revival of the Imperial Academy and the painting styles of the Southern Song (960-1279 CE) and the Yuan (1271-1368 CE) Dynasties. Some painters picked up the painting style of the Southern Song Dynasty, especially that of the Ma-Xia-School. Others continued the tradition of bird-and-flower painting from the times of Emperor Huizong. Other artists brought colors back into picture and revived the blue-and-green painting style of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE). Since most of the Academy painters came from the Zhejiang province, they were named the “Zhe school”. The most notable painter of the Zhe School was Dai Jin. Their counterpart, literati painters from the Wu region in Suzhou, continued in the more expressive and individual styles of the Four Masters of the Yuan Dynasty. They are known as the “Wu school”, of whom Shen Zhou is best known for his eclecticism and ability to paint in the styles of former masters. Although this two main currents in painting existed, the boundaries between academic and amateur painters blurred – not in stylistic terms, but in attitude, mostly when some literati, who had devoted themselves to nothing else but painting, started to accept money for their works, which had been not the case in earlier centuries.