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This work of running-cursive script (xingcao shu) calligraphy by Xian Yushu (1246–1301) preserves the poem “Flowering Crabapple” (Haitang shi) by Su Shi (1037–1101), who is here known as the Old Man of Yuju (or Yuju Weng). A masterpiece of Xian’s later years, the calligraphy has a bold expressiveness in the slanted, energetic characters. Although Xian took his calligraphic method from artists of the Jin (265–420) and Tang (618–906) dynasties and eschewed that of the Song (960–1279), his poetry and thought were deeply influenced by Su Shi.
Originally from Yuyang (present-day Ji County, Tianjin), Xian Yushu was known by the courtesy name (zi) Boji and the style name (hao) Kunxue Shanmin. He was a contemporary of the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) calligrapher Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322) and a talented poet and painter.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Kang Xiaolu