Friday, October 3, 2008

Wang Shiyan

Wang Shiyan was modern Chinese painter born in Baoding, China. He studied art at the prestigious Fine Arts Academy of China and classical Chinese literature at Hunan University.

Today he is a member of the Chinese National Federation of Fine Arts Professionals, the national Association of Plastic Arts, the Hunan folk fine arts Society, and a Fine Arts Master, a title conferred by the Chinese government to artists of great renown and experience. He is also Professor of classical painting in several Hunan province universities and Curator of the Embroidery Museum at the Hunan Embroidery Research Institute. During the recent census of national heritage, he was appointed permanent advisor to the regional committee on cultural heritage by the regional governor. He has won numerous artistic awards, including one ministerial and four national gold medals.

Travel is an important source of inspiration for his many landscape paintings. He has travelled through nearly all of China and more recently, has visited several European countries as well. In 2003, he participated in a cultural exchange programme established by the Chinese and Tunisian governments. In his role as Artistic Director of a group of experts, he spent one year in Tunis, teaching art and Chinese culture.

Over the last forty years, Wang has been instrumental in the promotion and revitalisation of the region’s artistic heritage, most notably through the research he has led into the field of traditional Hunan embroidery, now classified as part of what is known as China’s intangible national heritage.

Nowadays, he can describe himself as an artist, a professor, an expert in regional folk culture, or an art curator. However, his preferred title is the simple one of "painter", since for him, this passion, this dream from his youth is still as vital as ever, the enjoyment he derives from his paintings and calligraphic works, just as real.

Xue Ji

Xue Ji , courtesy name Sitong , was an official of the Tang Dynasty, briefly serving as during the reign of . He was considered one of the four greatest of early Tang, along with Yu Shinan, Ouyang Xun, and Chu Suiliang.


Xue Ji was born in 649, the same year that 's reign began. He was a great-grandson of Xue Daoheng , an important official of the Tang Dynasty's preceding Sui Dynasty, and Xue Yuanchao – a during Emperor Gaozong's reign – was a cousin to his grandfather Xue Xingcheng . Xue Xingcheng was a county magistrate, and Xue Ji's father Xue Renwei was not recorded with any official titles. However, it is known that Xue Ji's mother was a daughter of the famed chancellor Wei Zheng. Xue Ji passed the imperial examinations at one point, although the date is not known. Late in the reign of Emperor Gaozong's wife Wu Zetian, he served as an imperial attendant, along with her lovers Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong and several officials with literary talents, including Ji Xu, Tian Guidao , Li Jiongxiu, and Yuan Banqian .

During Emperor Zhongzong's second reign

As of the second reign of Emperor Gaozong's and Wu Zetian's son , Xue Ji was serving as ''Zhongshu Sheren'' , a mid-level official at the legislative bureau of government . At that time, his second cousin Xue Yao was serving at the examination bureau , and both of them were known for their literary talent. Later in Emperor Zhongzong's reign, he served as ''Jianyi Daifu'' , an imperial advisor, and also served as an imperial scholar at Zhaowen Pavilion . As his grandfather Wei Zheng's household held many important literary and artistic works, he had access to many calligraphic works of Yu Shinan and Chu Suiliang, and he, following their style, was a well-known calligrapher himself. He was also an accomplished painter. At that time, Emperor Zhongzong's brother the Prince of Xiang was also a calligrapher, and he became acquainted with Xue. As part of this relationship, he married his daughter Princess Xianyuan to Xue's son Xue Boyang .

During Emperor Shang's reign and Emperor Ruizong's second reign

In 710, Emperor Zhongzong died suddenly -- a death traditional historians believed to be a poisoning carried out by his powerful wife and her daughter Li Guo'er the Princess Anle, so that Empress Wei could become "emperor" like Wu Zetian, and Li Guo'er could become crown princess. Meanwhile, Emperor Zhongzong's son by a concubine, the Prince of Wen, was named emperor , but Empress Wei retained power as empress dowager and regent. Less than a month later, Emperor Zhongzong's sister Princess Taiping and nephew the Prince of Linzi rose in rebellion and killed Empress Dowager Wei and Li Guo'er. Li Dan, himself a former emperor, was restored to the throne , displacing Emperor Shang. One of the chancellors that Emperor Ruizong commissioned was Zhong Shaojing, whose support to Li Longji was instrumental during the coup. However, Zhong was not from a prominent clan and had been a low level official previously, and this drew resentment from officials from established clans.

Xue, who had been made deputy minister of worship and had been in charge of drafting imperial edicts, along with Su Ting, suggested to Zhong that he demonstrate modesty by offering to resign -- something often done when high level officials are commissioned and mostly done ceremonially -- and when Zhong did, Xue entered the palace and persuaded Emperor Ruizong to accept the resignation. Subsequently, Xue was made ''Zhongshu Shilang'' , the deputy head of the legislative bureau, given the designation ''Canzhi Zhengshi'' , making him a chancellor ''de facto''. Soon, however, he repeatedly argued with another chancellor, Cui Riyong -- with Xue accusing Cui of flattering Wu Sansi, and Cui accusing Xue of flattering Zhang Yizhi and Zong Chuke. Emperor Ruizong, tired of their bickering, removed both of them from their chancellor posts, with Xue becoming ''Zuo Sanqi Changshi'' , a senior advisor at the examination bureau.

During Emperor Xuanzong's reign

Meanwhile, the government became divided between the parties of Princess Taiping and Li Longji, to whom Emperor Ruizong passed the throne in 712 and who took the throne as Emperor Xuanzong. After Emperor Xuanzong's enthronement, however, his struggles with Princess Taiping continued, as she continued to influence politics through Emperor Ruizong, who retained power as ''Taishang Huang'' .

By 713, it was said that Princess Taiping, Dou Huaizhen, Cen Xi, Xiao Zhizhong, Cui Shi, Xue; along with other officials Li Jin the Prince of Xinxing , Li You , Jia Yingfu , Tang Jun ; the generals Chang Yuankai , Li Ci , and Li Qin ; and the monk Huifan , were plotting to overthrow Emperor Xuanzong. It was further said that they discussed, with the lady in waiting Lady Yuan, poisoning an aphrodisiac that Emperor Xuanzong took regularly known as ''chijian'' . When this alleged plot was reported to Emperor Xuanzong by Wei Zhigu, Emperor Xuanzong – who had already received advice from Wang Ju , Zhang Shuo, and Cui Riyong to act first – did so. He convened a meeting with his brothers Li Fan the Prince of Qi, Li Ye the Prince of Xue, Guo Yuanzhen, along with a number of his associates — the general Wang Maozhong , the officials Jiang Jiao and Li Lingwen , his brother-in-law Wang Shouyi , the eunuch Gao Lishi, and the military officer Li Shoude — and decided to act first. On July 29, Emperor Xuanzong had Wang Maozhong take 300 soldiers to the imperial guard camp to behead Chang and Li Ci. Then, Jia, Li You, Xiao, and Cen were arrested and executed as well. Dou and Princess Taiping committed suicide. Emperor Ruizong yielded powers to Emperor Xuanzong and no longer actively participated in policy decisions thereafter. Xue was arrested and imprisoned at the jail of Wannian County and ordered to commit suicide. His son Xue Boyang was spared on the basis that he was the emperor's brother-in-law, but was exiled, and he committed suicide in exile.

Zhang Xu (calligrapher)

Zhang Xu , courtesy name: Bogao , was a Chinese calligrapher of the Tang Dynasty.

A native of Suzhou, he became an official during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang. Zhang was known as one of the Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup. Legend has it that whenever he was drunk, he would use his hair as brush to perform his art, and upon his waking up, he would be amazed by the quality of those works but failed to produce them again in his sober state.

Though more well-known for his explosive , he excelled in the regular script. Anecdotes go that he grasped the essence of cursive writing by observing some porters fight for their way with the guard of honor of some princess, and by watching the solo performance of a famous sword-dancer.

He is often paired with the younger Huai Su as the two greatest cursive calligraphers of the Tang Dynasty. The duo is affectionately referred to as "the crazy Zhang and the drunk Su" .

Zhang Zhi

Zhang Zhi , courtesy name Boying , was a Chinese calligrapher during the Han Dynasty. Born in , he was a pioneer of the modern , and was traditionally honorred as the Sage of Curives Script .

Despite the great fame he enjoyed in ancient times, no veritable works of his have survived. A catchphrase is attributed to him: "Too busy to write cursively" , which shows that the execution of cursive script, though originally invented for the sake of time-saving, requires a tranquil frame of mind.

Zhong Shaojing

Zhong Shaojing , courtesy name Keda , was an official of the dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, briefly serving as a during the reign of .


It is not known when Zhong Shaojing was born, but it is known that he was from Qian Prefecture . His clan traced its ancestry to a number of officials of Han Dynasty, Cao Wei, Jin Dynasty , Northern Wei, Southern Qi, Liang Dynasty, Sui Dynasty, and Tang Dynasty. Both Zhong Shaojing's great-grandfather Zhong Baoshen and grandfather Zhong Ziwei , however, were only minor local officials, and Zhong Shaojing's father Zhong Fazun did not carry any official titles. In Zhong Shaojing's youth, during the reign of Wu Zetian, he served as a ''Sinong Lushi'' , a low-level official at the ministry of agriculture, but as he was well-known for his , was requested by the legislative bureau of government to serve there. Many plaques of important public works projects built during Wu Zetian's reign, including the imperial meeting hall and the palaces, and the odes to the nine ''s'' that Wu Zetian built, were physically written by Zhong.

Participation in coup of 710

As of the ''Jinglong'' era of Wu Zetian's son , Zhong Shaojing was serving as the director of imperial gardens . In 710, Emperor Zhongzong died suddenly -- a death that traditional historians believed to be a poisoning carried out by his powerful wife and her daughter Li Guo'er the Princess Anle, so that Empress Wei could become "emperor" like Wu Zetian and Li Guo'er could become crown princess. For the time being, Emperor Zhongzong's son by a concubine, the Prince of Wen, was made emperor , and Empress Wei retained power as empress dowager and regent. She viewed Emperor Zhongzong's brother the Prince of Xiang and sister Princess Taiping as threats, and considered killing them. Meanwhile, Princess Taiping and Li Dan's son the Prince of Linzi heard news of this, and therefore considered acting first. They, along with Princess Taiping's son Xue Chongjian , Zhong, Wang Chongye , Liu Youqiu, and Ma Sizong , planned a coup, and soon launched it, with support from imperial guard soldiers disgruntled at harsh treatment by their commanders Wei Bo and Gao Song , Empress Wei's nephews whom she had put in charge. Zhong was set to join the coup with the servants and laborers of the imperial gardens, but almost did not do so as he suddenly hesitated, only resolving to join the coup after his wife pointed out that if the coup failed, he would suffer death anyway. The coup was successful, and Empress Wei and Li Guo'er were killed. Li Dan was made regent, and for his contributions in the coup, Zhong was made ''Zhongshu Shilang'' , the deputy head of the legislative bureau , and given the designation ''Canzhi Jiwu'' , making him a ''de facto''. He was also given the honorific title ''Yinqing Guanglu Daifu'' . The next day, he was given the greater chancellor ''de facto'' designation of ''Tong Zhongshu Menxia Sanpin'' .

During Emperor Ruizong's reign

Several days after the coup, Li Dan, at the urging of Princess Taiping, Li Longji, and Li Longji's brother Li Chengqi the Prince of Song, retook the throne , displacing Emperor Shang. Once Emperor Ruizong took the throne, Zhong received further promotions and honors -- he was made ''Zhongshu Ling'' -- the head of the legislative bureau and a post considered one for a chancellor -- and created the Duke of Yue. He was also was given awards of silk, servants, a mansion, land, horses, and other assorted treasures. It was said that, however, that other officials disrespected Zhong for his past as a low-level official and despised him for carrying out actions based on his own wishes and desires. The official Xue Ji suggested to him that he demonstrate modesty by offering to resign -- something often done when high level officials are commissioned and mostly done ceremonially -- and when Zhong did, Xue entered the palace and persuaded Emperor Ruizong to accept the resignation. Emperor Ruizong did, and he made Zhong the minister of census , and later the prefect of Shu Prefecture .

During Emperor Xuanzong's reign

In 712, Emperor Ruizong passed the throne to Li Longji, who took the throne as Emperor Xuanzong. Sometime after, Zhong Shaojing was recalled to again serve as minister of census, and later the head of the crown prince's household . However, the chancellor Yao Chong disliked Zhong, and he accused Zhong and Liu Youqiu of complaining that they were not given important positions despite their contributions. Despite their denials, they were still demoted -- in Zhong's case, to be the prefect of Guo Prefecture . At a later point, he was further accused of offenses and demoted to be the sheriff of Huai'en County , and his titles were stripped. He subsequently served as the secretary general of Wen Prefecture .

In 727, Zhong visited the capital Chang'an, and had the opportunity to meet Emperor Xuanzong. He wept and stated:

Emperor Xuanzong was saddened, and immediately made Zhong ''Yinqing Guanglu Daifu'' and ''Taizi You Yude'' , a member of the staff of the crown prince . Some time thereafter, he was made ''Taizi Shao Zhanshi'' , the deputy head of the crown prince's household. He died in his 80s while still serving in that position, although the year is not known.

It was said that Zhong, in addition to being a famed calligrapher, also favored collecting calligraphy. Among his collections were several hundred works of Wang Xizhi, Wang Xianzhi, and Chu Suiliang. Three of his sons, Zhong Jiabi , Zhong Jia'e , and Zhong Jiawei served as officials.

Zhong Yao

Zhong Yao was a calligrapher and politician of Cao Wei. Born in modern , he was at one time the Grand Administrator of Chang'an.

Following Cao Pi's death and Cao Rui taking the throne, Zhong Yao was appointed as a Grand Tutor of Wei in 226. As a student of Cai Yong, a famous calligrapher, he also contributed to the development of , and is known as the "father of standard script". His famous works include the Xuānshì Biǎo , Jiànjìzhí Biǎo , and Lìmìng Biǎo , which survive through handcopies, including by Wang Xizhi. Qiú Xīguī describes the script in Zhong’s Xuānshì Biǎo as:
:"''…clearly emerging from the womb of early period semi-cursive script. If one were to write the tidily written variety of early period semi-cursive script in a more dignified fashion and were to use consistently the pause technique when ending horizontal strokes, a practice which already appears in early period semi-cursive script, and further were to make use of right-falling strokes with thick feet, the result would be a style of calligraphy like that in the “Xuān shì biǎo"''".

Zhong Yao's son Zhong Hui was also a calligrapher and a general of the Wei who conquered Shu Han with Deng Ai.

Personal information

* Son
** Zhong Hui (钟会)

Sun Guoting

Sun Guoting or Sun Qianli ,was a Chinese calligrapher of the early Tang Dynasty, remembered for his and his ''Treatise on Calligraphy'' . The work was the first important theoretical work on Chinese calligraphy, and has remained important ever since, though only its preface survived. The preface is the only surviving calligraphic work of Sun, therefore it is responsible for both Sun's reputation as an artist and as a theorist. The original handscroll can be seen at the National Palace Museum, in Taipei, Taiwan, and on its web site.