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Pentasyllabic Regulated Verse in Running Script

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Period: Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
Medium: ink on paper
Format: hanging scroll

Scriptstyle: running script
Calligrapher(s): Xing Dong (1551-1612)

Dimensions: 142 × 33.2 cm

Xing Dong, courtesy name Ziyuan with a style name Laiqin Sheng, was a native of Linyi (today's Linqing, Shandong province). In 1574, he qualified as a Metropolitan Graduate in the imperial civil examination and was appointed Magistrate of Nangong county. After a stint as an adviser of the Imperial Inspector, he was promoted to the Acting Minister of the Court of the Imperial Stud of Shaanxi province. A master calligrapher in late Ming dynasty, Xing was one of the "Four Masters of Late Ming" along with Dong Qichang (1555-1636), Xi Wanzhong, and Zhang Ruitu. He was often mentioned together with Dong Qichang as representing the highest artistic standards of calligraphy in northern and southern China respectively.   
  When he was seven, Xing was already able to perform large scale calligraphy and later he learned from Wang Chong's regular script. At twenty-four he went to the capital to take the Palace Examination and left a strong impression on the examiners with his excellent calligraphy. However, he quit his bureaucratic career early in his thirties and returned to his hometown, where he built a villa named Laiqin Guan (literally, "House of migratory birds") on a hill to regale traveling artists and calligraphers from all over the country. He has a rich family collection of calligraphic works, which enabled him to publish a series of copybooks based on the collection. Among them were the famous Seventeen Calligraphy Works. His calligraphy was widely considered to have deeply acquired the soul of the masterpieces by Wang Xizhi (ca. 303- ca. 361), the acknowledged "Sage of Calligraphy" of the Eastern Jin dynasty (317-420).   
  This work bears the signature "Xing Dong of Jinan", and two intaglio seals, "Ziyuan fu" and "Jinansheng". There are also two red and two intaglio collector's seals.   
  The brushwork of this scroll appears smooth and mellow, as described in Tao Zongyi's Concise History of Calligraphy, "[Xing's] strokes were both forceful and very agile." In his early exploration Xing tried hard to learn from Wang Chong's style, but later he became a full admirer of Wang Xizhi. Of all his works that survive today, many are copies imitating Wang Xizhi's writings. As for this scroll, it features both the elegant agility of Wang Xizhi and the modest simplicity of Wang Chong."

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