Asian Art
Artist: Zhan Jingfeng, Chinese, 1532–1602

Thousand Character Classic

16th century

Album:Ink on paper, calligraphy in cursive script

boxed: 15 9/16 × 9 7/16 × 2 3/16 in. (39.5 × 24 × 5.5 cm)
Collection of H. Christopher Luce, B.A. 1972
From Xiuning, Anhui Province, Zhan Jingfeng was a calligrapher and painter associated with the Xin’an school of painting, which he references in his signature on this handscroll. A discriminating connoisseur, Zhan could correctly date early stone engravings in one glance, earning membership into the “White Elm Society” (百榆社), along with Dong Qichang. Zhan also used calligraphy to paint bamboo, as the two arts share brush techniques. Slender yet strong, his stalks were executed in rapid, bold strokes. Containing exactly one thousand characters, none of which ever repeat, the “Thousand Character Classic” was originally written by Wang Xizhi (321–379 C.E.) and became a model for later generations. Zhan’s rendition of the essay in cursive script became famous. He created entire columns of smooth, continuous motion, the brush flowing down the scroll like a skier winding down a slope. As the skier weights his edges to carve his turns, so the calligrapher pressed his brush to bend his strokes. Unlike Wang Duo, Zhan’s brush was always fully inked, creating slender, evenly black shapes, just like his bamboo. Zhan felt that skills were basic, but that inspiration is intuitive and could not be taught.
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Not on view

“Acquisitions July 1, 2017–June 30, 2018,” (accessed December 1, 2018).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.