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Return to the Academy

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Period: Yuanyou reign (1086–1094), Northern Song dynasty (960–1127)
Medium: ink on paper
Format: scroll

Date: Yuanyou reign (1086–1094), Northern Song dynasty (960–1127)
Calligrapher(s): Su Shi (1037–1101)

Dimensions: 35.1 cm × 12.4 cm

This work in running script (xing) known as Return to the Academy (Guiyuan tie) is an official letter written by Su Shi (1037–1101) while serving as an academician in the Hanlin Academy. The text is a request for instructions and confirmation regarding overnight accommodations for those on duty at the Academy. The time of writing is sometime during the first to fourth year (1086–1089) of the Yuanyou reign (1086–1094) in the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) when Su was between fifty-one and fifty-four years old (in sui). The letter is in fact not a deliberate work of calligraphic art, so the writing is natural with free-style brushwork. The piece has traits seen in the brush techniques of Yan Zhenqing (709–785) and Yang Ningshi (873–954) but is clearly written in Su’s unique style.

Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Kang Xiaolu

 

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