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Ode to the Sweet Spring at the Palace of Nine Folds

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Period: Northern Song dynasty (960-1127)
Medium: stone rubbings
Format: album of 26 folios

Scriptstyle: seal script and regular script
Artist(s): composed by Wei Zheng (580-643), written by Ouyang Xun (557-641)

Dimensions: 20.9 × 13.9 cm

Located in the central-west of Shaanxi province, the Palace of Nine Folds (Jiucheng gong) was a summer resort palace for emperors of the Sui (581-618) and the Tang (618-907) dynasties. In the year 632 by the imperial order of the Tang Taizong (r. 627-650) the carvers traced on to a stone an ode, composed by the state premier Wei Zheng and written by the calligrapher master Ouyang Xun, and placed it in the Palace of Nine Folds.   
  The author, Wei Zheng, was an honorable and wise advisor to Tang Taizong. In the ode, Wei mentioned the origin of the name "Sweet Spring" (Li quan): During an inspection at the Palace of Nine Folds, emperor Taizong discovered that the soil and steps under the palace terrace were a bit wet. He poked at the wet area with a stick, causing a spring to flow out. Then the emperor ordered a channel dug and stone rails erected to protect it. The water was as clear as mirror and as sweet as wine.   
  At the end of his laudatory essay on the Emperor, Wei advised his master, "Standing in a high place, [you shall] beware of falling down; holding a full container, avoid spilling it."   
  Other than the ode on the stone that is carved in twenty-four lines with fifty characters in each, the rubbing is divided into twenty-six pages that are mounted into an album. Ouyang Xun's calligraphy is characterized by broad, sturdy structures, squared-off hooks, and smooth brush strokes. His work is praised for integrating official script (li shu) with regular script (kai shu).

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