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The Zhiping Reign

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Period: Northern Song dynasty (960–1127), Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Medium: ink on paper
Format: handscroll

Date: Northern Song dynasty (960–1127), Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Calligrapher(s): Su Shi (1037–1101)

Dimensions: 29.4 cm × 45.4 cm

The Zhiping Reign (Zhiping tie) is a letter written in running script (xing) by Su Shi (1037–1101). The content involves the author entrusting village monks to handle the maintenance of tombs. According to information in the scroll’s colophons by Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322), Wen Zhengming (1470–1559), and Wang Zhideng (1535–1612) affixed after the main work, the letter was written by Su Shi while residing in the capital during the Xining reign (1068–1077; which followed the Zhiping reign, 1064–1067) when he was over thirty years old (in sui). The brush technique is meticulous, and the script is beautifully rendered with vigor, which Zhao Mengfu described as an alluring elegance. Sharing salient features with the calligraphy of Su’s early period, the piece is considered a rare example of Su’s early calligraphic art.

Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Kang Xiaolu

 

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