Saturday, February 02, 2008

My picture of happiness

Here it is,

my picture of happiness,

done by the Ming calligrapher,
Chu Yun-ming (1461-1527)

It's not chaos,
it's just loose and lively,
like a day well spent
doing a bunch of things,
that are completely different
but strangely related.

Who would have thought
that the quattrocento
would have been as great anywhere
else as in Western Europe ?

Born to a leading family of Changzhou,
Chu Yun-ming was a child prodigy,
and known for his advocacy of all three great teachers
(Confucius,Buddha, Lao Tse)
as well as various social issues.

In calligraphy,
he was a 4th Century revivalist
(Wang Hsi-chih and Chung Yu)

To teach Confucian values, he wrote:

"just as every brushstroke must evoke an archaic idea,
every character must be based on an historical source"


after his retirement from government service at the age of 60,
he developed the wild cursive style for which he
became notorious.

"the placing of each stroke should be heavy and powerful,
as in a standard script. Every dot and stroke should
be forthright, strong and precise"

And indeed,
they are.

But they're also playful.

My picture of happiness.


Blogger Uke Xensen said...


February 02, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

O.K. -- he lived in both centuries -- but this scroll seems to come from the last years of his life.

Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) is almost an exact contemporary.

February 03, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

Translation? Must be important as it was in your last post too! I wonder how quickly it was written and with what and on what.

February 03, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

The piece is called "The arduous road to Shu", it's ink on paper, and here's a link to it from the show at the Met.

February 03, 2008  
Anonymous marly said...

Now we have to reconcile "the arduous road to Shu" with your happiness...

Somehow I thought of cellos. Irrational but there it is. Perhaps he was carrying a cello to Shu. On his back.

I'm supposed to be On Hiatus but just had to come take a peek.

February 03, 2008  
Blogger Gawain said...

marly: carried a cello on his back while playing it (by using a monkey who sat on his shoulder to pull the bow). there will be some calligraphy work from me next week: you have inspired me.

February 10, 2008  

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