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This calligraphy is considered to be a copy by Mi Fu (1051-1107) of a fragment of a letter written by Wang Xianzhi, the influential calligrapher of the Eastern Jin period (317-420). Although the original letter has been lost, Mi Fu's copy nevertheless lives up to viewers' expectations. He mastered such consummate techniques in transcribing past works that his copies long were accepted as authentic. Wang Xianzhi was accorded the same lofty status as his father, the great calligrapher Wang Xizhi (ca. 303- ca. 361). They were collectively honored as the "Two Wangs".
Otherwise known as New Dam Manuscript, this calligraphy is the first one in the Qing dynasty imperial calligraphy catalogue Splendid Array of Calligraphic Works (Fashu daguan). Unfortunately, the inscription by the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736-1795) and the seal impressions showing imperial provenance have been rubbed off. Such effacement is typical of attempted theft by eunuchs in the late Qing period.