CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY China Heritage Project, The Australian National University ISSN 1833-8461
No. 24, December 2010


Passages from Ouyang Xiu | China Heritage Quarterly

Passages from Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修
A Record of Collected Antiquity
Jigu Lu 集古錄

Translated by Duncan M. Campbell, Timothy Cronin and Cindy Ho
The Australian National University

A Record of Collected Antiquity by Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072) is a work that continues to inspire significant contemporary scholarship. It is itself a partial and reconstructed collection of some four hundred colophons written almost one-thousand years ago on a series, long since lost, of rubbings of inscriptions that stretch back to the very beginnings of Chinese civilisation.

Ronald Egan analyses Ouyang's collection in the context of his life and work, seeking better to understand Northern Song dynasty ideas about antiquity, beauty and collecting. In 'Rethinking "Traces" from the Past: Ouyang Xiu on Stone Inscriptions',[1] Egan presents elegant versions of both Ouyang Xiu's 'Preface', also translated below, and a number of his colophons. Emphasising the unprecedented nature of Ouyang Xiu's collection, Egan concludes:

The interest Ouyang took in ancient inscriptions sprang from several sources, some of them potentially at odds with others. His fondness for 'the past', dismay over feeling cut off from even recent historical periods, fretting over his own aging and mortality, the strange power that partly obliterated writing had over him, his pride as a historiographer and scholar, his misgivings about religious writings, his ability to appreciate virtually all manners of calligraphic styles—all these figure variously in the complex ways that Ouyang reacts to and writes about the objects he collected.

More recently, Patricia Ebrey, in a chapter entitled 'Collecting As a Scholarly Passion during the Northern Song Period',[3] concentrates on the purposes that underlay the collecting of books, calligraphy, painting, and, in this case, rubbings, during the period of her focus. Collections were assets of social, financial, literary and artistic value, she concludes, and this apolitical manner of collecting was soon to prove of great attraction to the man who would serve to reshape, forever, the nature of collection in China, the Emperor Huizong 宋徽宗.

As arranged chronologically by his son Fei 棐 (the original collection, and therefore the colophons attached to its various items had been arranged in terms of date of acquisition) and included in early editions of Ouyang Xiu's collected works, A Record of Collected Antiquity comprises ten juan 卷. Picking up on some of the issues raised in earlier issues of the China Heritage Quarterly, particularly my review of Kenneth Starr's Black Tigers: A Grammar of Rubbings,[4] and thinking generally of the often fraught processes of the transmission over the centuries of China's literary, intellectual and artistic heritage, for the purposes of an advanced course in Classical Chinese, I spent a semester reading with Timothy Cronin and Cindy Ho colophons from the final juan of Ouyang Xiu's work. We present below some initial translations based on those readings. I would also like to thank Dr Sue Chen (Chen Shih-wen 陳詩雯) for her kind assistance in copying out the original texts for inclusion here, and the editor of China Heritage Quarterly for his suggested revisions.—Duncan M. Campbell

Preface to the Colophons of my A Record of Collected Antiquity
Jigu lu muxu 集古錄目序

Fig.1 Ouyang Xiu

Although objects frequently accumulate around those who love them, they will revert permanently, however, only to those who possess in full measure the means by which to acquire them. For those with the means but not the love, or the love but not the means, even if objects be within easy reach, possession will elude them.

Elephants and rhinoceroses, tigers and leopards can all kill man. They dwell in distant mountains or in barbarian lands far beyond the oceans. And yet, the ivory and tusks, the skins and hides of such creatures are both gathered and possessed by men. Jade derives from the flowing sands of the Kunlun mountains ten thousand li from here, but passing through the hands of men speaking? more than ten different tongues jade nonetheless reaches the Central Plains. From the Southern Oceans come pearls, born in the depths, gathered by men who dive with thick ropes tied around their waists and who rise to the surface looking otherworldly in their pallor, and many of whom never reappear, having served to fill the bellies of fish and other sea monsters. Gold is mined from the mountains, deep the shafts and long the tunnels. With torches in hand and carrying their dry rations with them they repair to their mines, only to be buried there in their tens of hundreds when cliffs collapse and tunnels cave in. Such is very often the case—so distant are these objects and so very difficult are they to obtain that many die in their quest. And yet, gold and jade and pearls and precious stones are treasured?. Indeed it may be said that for someone with both the love for a particular object and the means by which to acquire it, to such a person will the object come?.

The wash basin of King Tang, the tripod of Confucius, the stone drums of Qiyang, the stelae of Mount Tai, Zouyi and Guiji, along with the tomb stelae of the sages and the sovereigns, worthies and scholars from the Han and the Wei dynasties onwards, and their sacrificial vessels, inscribed poems and prefaces and records, as well as the calligraphic specimens by the various masters in archaic, Greater and Lesser Seal, Bafen 八分[5] and Clerical Scripts, all these constituting the treasures transmitted to us from the Three Dynasties onwards, in appearance strange and wondrous, majestic or beautiful, skilled and marvellous objects of delight. Such things are not distant from our reach, and neither does their selection incur any injury or disaster. But when left to the deprecations of wind and frost, warfare and fire, such things are buried and effaced, abandoned along mountain cliffs or in the wilderness and nobody seeks to gather them together, so few are those of this age that love them. Even when they have been fortunate enough to encounter someone who loves them, either the wherewithal/ [a rather cumbersome word] of such men has been inadequate to the task or they have managed to acquire only one or two of them, without having been able to assemble a collection of them.

In general terms, however, having the wherewithal to acquire an object is not as good as being possessed by the love for that object, and being possessed by the love for an object requires resolute single-mindedness. As I am by nature addicted to antiquity and have no desire whatsoever for those things that men of this present age hanker after so ardently, my attentions have been focused on my love for objects such as these. So intense is this love, that although my means have inadequate, I have nonetheless managed to assemble a collection. They date from the time of King Mu of the Zhou Dynasty onwards, down through the Qin, the Han, the Sui, Tang and Five Dynasties, their geographical reach encompasses the Four Seas and the Nine Provinces. They derive from famous mountains and broad marshes, isolated cliffs and cut-off valleys, wild forests and ruined tombs.

I have been scoffed at: 'Once you have collected so many objects it will hard to keep them together; the longer they are together the more inevitable their dispersal. Why expend your efforts on such trifling things?' To this I reply: 'To do so satisfies my love for objects such as these and, besides, I hope to enjoy an old age with these objects still close at hand. After all, are not collections of ivory and horn, gold and jade also prone inevitably to dispersal? In my case, it is simply a matter of my inability to substitute those sorts of things for the objects that I collect.'

This Preface was written by Ouyang Xiu of Luling.




A Dao de jing in small characters
Xiaozi Dao de jing 小字道德經

Note: Dated the Twenty-seventh Year of the Kaiyuan reign period (739)

To the right is a rubbing of a copy, in small characters, of the Dao de jing in Bafen style. There is no note of who wrote it, or of its provenance. Though it is said by some that the stele was found in Mingzhou,[6] it has since been lost. The rubbing from this stele is of such a kind that, when I made enquiries amongst book collectors they said no one has seen such an example before. The strokes of the characters are so precise and so exquisite that most of those who view the rubbing believe it to have been written by the Brilliant Emperor himself.[7] However, I know this not to be the case, on the account of having seen another version of this text that bears a note to the effect that it had simply been imperially footnoted, rather than imperially autographed. [To the right: the original item]

小字道德經 開元二十七年


Calligraphic Models by Men of the Tang
Tangren lin tie 唐人臨帖


To the right is a juan of Calligraphic Models (fatie 法帖) copied by various calligraphers of the Tang dynasty. The first few of appear to be in the hand of Yan Zhenqing[8]—I say this by virtue of their bold and precise brushstrokes executed in a manner quite beyond the reach of others. Note: According to the History of the Tang (Tang shu 唐書), the great Chu Suiliang[9] once requested that colophons be written for all the remarkable calligraphic works and famous paintings in the imperial collection by all those below the rank of Prime Minister. Emperor Xuanzong, however, denied the request. And yet, here we list at the end of the rubbing the names of Song Jing[10] and others, this list riddled with errors. I suspect that the list was added later. But if the important thing is the enjoyment of such rubbings, then what need do we have to worry about authenticity? After all, examples of the what claimed to be the traces of the calligraphy of Zhong Yao[11] and Wang Xizhi[12] that circulate at present amongst the vulgar differ greatly, the one from another, but nonetheless, such objects very often embody their unique features that redeem them. Thus I argue that although rubbings may well depart from their originals in minute ways in the processes of transmission, such things can yet be regarded as prized objects. For this reason, I have arranged all the Calligraphic Models that I have gathered over the years in my A Record of Collected Antiquity, in order to satisfy my own desire for exhaustiveness.


右唐人所臨諸家法帖一卷。其前數帖。類真卿所書。蓋其筆畫精勁。他人未易臻此。按唐書言褚無量嘗請以當時所藏奇書名畫。命宰相以下跋尾。而玄宗不許。此乃有宋璟等列名于後。又頗多訛繆。豈後人妄增加之也。然要為可翫 。何必窮較其真偽。今流俗所傳鐘王遺迹。多不同。然時時各有所得。故雖小小轉寫失真。不害為佳物。由是悉取前後所得諸家法帖。分入集錄。蓋以資博覽云。右集本。

Calligraphic Models in Small Characters
Xiaozi fatie 小字法帖

Note: The colophons that follow this one are attached to Calligraphic Models, all of which are copies (moben 模本) and thus have been placed here, following the 'Calligraphic Models by Men of the Tang']

The various small character Calligraphic Models found to the right all derive from the reproductions made in recent times by a Secretarial Court Gentlemen, Pan Shidan,[13] who privately had copies of the official Calligraphic Models made and carved so they may circulate within the world. I have divided these Calligraphic Models into categories, and distributed them throughout the various volumes of my A Record of Collected Antiquity. Examples of the small character calligraphy of Cheng Miao,[14] Lady Wei,[15] Zhong Yao, Wang Xi and Song Tan have been placed together. Previously, I determined that the 'Memorial Celebrating Victory' (He jie biao 賀捷表) ascribed to Zhong Yao was not authentic, and in the case of this Calligraphic Model I observed also that the brush method of the various strokes was not uniform: in the processes of transmission calligraphy cannot but lose something of its original form, thus making the issue of the authenticity or otherwise of a work to be extremely difficult to determine.

This colophon was written on the Thirteenth Day of the Seventh Month of the First Year of the Ordered Tranquility reign period [1064].

A Further Note on this Item:

In recent times there was a Secretarial Court Gentlemen, Pan Shidan, who stole dozens of official Calligraphic Models and had copies of a number of them carved in stone in order to pass on to others. Through the processes of transmission, the calligraphy departs from its original form, but nonetheless occasionally such copies embody their own excellence. Therefore, I have selected some copies that I believe to be worthy of being recorded and have distributed them within the ten juan of this collection—a gesture made for a moment's diversion. The small characters are particularly exquisite.

小字法帖 此下皆跋法帖蓋模本也故類於唐人臨帖之後



The Calligraphic Models of the Eighteen Masters
Shiba jia fatie 十八家法帖


The item to the right is 'The Calligraphic Models of the Eighteen Masters' as it has been passed down to us. It does not comprise eighteen Calligraphic Models at all, but rather twenty-five separate pieces from the brushes of eighteen individual calligraphers. Common opinion holds that these pieces were written by Wang Xizhi. In fact, they come from the Official Compendium of Calligraphic Models. During the reign of the Taizong Emperor envoys were dispatched to all corners of the realm in order to solicit from private collectors, through purchase or donation, the calligraphy of past masters. The collected works were then collated into ten volumes to serve as official models, and these were subsequently carved onto woodblocks and kept within the palace.[16] Henceforth, whenever an official was promoted to the ranks of the two estates he would be presented with his own personal copy of the compendium. Later, however, this practice was discontinued, leading some to speculate that the original woodblocks had been stored within the imperial library and were most likely lost in the conflagration that destroyed the imperial palace. Others believe that the blocks are still extant and that the compendium is simply no longer bestowed upon officials. In either case, the original official models are particularly hard to come by today. Of all the specimens contained in the Official Compendium, this item is the most splendid example and I acquired this particular copy from Xue Gongqi.[17] He claims it to be a family heirloom and its is most certainly genuine. The large majority of such works collected by people today are mere copies of copies.



Various Calligraphic Models: Six Colophons
Za fatie liu 雜法帖六

First Note: Some time ago I acquired an album of Calligraphic Models from Xue the Thirteenth but it was incomplete. I have now finally managed to get hold of the missing first volume.

The brush methods (bifa 筆法) of the emperors of the Southern Dynasties were quite distinct, but none of them produced work of any profundity: it appears meagre and lacking in any grander spirit. Nonetheless, their calligraphy does occasionally delightful with its pure elegance.

Second Note: The study of calligraphy does not taxe the mind and or demand that you exhaust yourself at the inkstone; rather, much benefit can also be derived from looking at as many examples of the lingering traces of the ancients that one can and by trying to understand their underlying intent.

Third Note: This age reveres both Wang Xizhi and Wang Xianzhi for their calligraphy, but their brush methods were very dissimilar, and the difference between the calligraphy of father and son is in itself an occasion for considerable delight.

Fourth Note: My A Record of Collected Antiquity now contains a thousand items. Of late I have also acquired this Calligraphic Model, thus confirming my desire to retire, for to lodge one's heart in this could bring boundless pleasure. This note was idly penned whilst fasting before conducting the summer sacrifice for rain in the Renyin year of the Elegant Safekeeping reign [1062].

Fifth Note: How different antiquity and the present age! As different as the language of man over time. And as models are transmitted through the years, they too tend often to lose their original form. Occasionally, certain aspects become extremely difficult to fully understand, and in such circumstances one simply needs to make an educated guess at the original intention. This colophon written, by happenstance, whilst fasting in the Eastern Pavilion of the Secretariat-Chancellery before conducting a sacrifice in the Hall of Enlightened Rule in the Seventh Year of the Elegant Safekeeping reign [1062]

Sixth Note: In my old age I have suffered an affliction of the eyes that prevents me from reading, whilst I now also find difficulty in plying my pen. It is only this A Record of Collected Antiquity of mine that can afford me a modicum of pleasure as I handle it. But I do not wish to view it too often, intending instead that it serve as a pleasure reserved for my retirement. Objects of themselves are not sufficient, but nonetheless the pleasure that they can bring is boundless. If you expend too much energy upon them, becoming tired in the process, then they can occasionally induce a sense of repugnance. Inner pleasures, it seems, are dependent sometime upon external objects, this being a case perhaps of what Han Yu once spoke about as there being no difference between living in mountain forests and within the city walls, doubtless the occasion of laughter on the part of all those skilled in the Way. This colophon was written in the Hall of the Pure of Heart during the Xinhai year of the Serene Peace reign [1071].
[Note: To the right is a silk MS copy of the Supplementary Collection, in twenty-three juan]










Xu Xuan's Record of the Twin Streams Academy
Xu Xuan Shuangxi Yuan ji 徐鉉雙溪院記

The item to the right is the Record of the Twin Streams Academy, in Xu Xuan's hand.[18] Xuan and his brother Kai were both proficient in the bafen script, though their calligraphy lacks a certain vigour. In their day the brothers were renowned throughout the Jiangnan region for their literary and scholarly accomplishments; they were known as The Two Xus. They are still revered to this day by scholars and students alike. In the turmoil of the Five Dynasties Confucian learning fell into decline and yet, even in the midst of such strife, these two men served the state tirelessly. And as warfare rent the Central States, as the four quarters were rent by all manner of usurpers and as the land was stalked by the shade of constant strife, only in Jiangnan was some semblance of civilisation maintained. These two brothers were especially active in the scholarly circles of the day. After the rise of the Song, the Marquis of Disobeyed Edicts was brought to kneel at the court and thereupon Xu Xuan came into the Emperor's service.[19] So awed were the men of the court by his character and charisma that they deferred to him in all matters, for in their day there were none who could match his talent. For this reason his calligraphy was carved and recorded with particular care. Contemporary with Xuan was a man named Wang Wenbing whose small seal calligraphy was especially fine and forceful. However, his personal character was not worthy of remark. Written on the Fifteenth Day of the First Month of the First Year of Emperor Yingzong's Reign of Ordered Tranquility.



Guo Zhongshu's Etymological Explanation of the Origins of Characters Written in Small Characters
Guo Zhongshu xiaozi Shuowen Ziyuan 郭忠恕小字說文字源

The item to the right is the Etymological Explanation of the Origins of Characters [Shuowen Ziyuan 說文字源], written in the hand of Guo Zhongshu who served in the imperial court and whose career is documented in the Veritable Records.[20] He was a particularly eccentric character. Today people know him only for his calligraphy in the lesser seal script and are yet ignorant of his skill in the regular script, which is equally exquisite. Because the latter were never carved in stone, this work remains the only surviving example, which is indeed a great shame. Amid the violence and disorder of the Five Dynasties, schools and academies fell into ruin and the way of scholarly gentleman slid deep into decline. Yet, even in such dire circumstances as these, there were men of Guo Zhongshu's calibre. Today our great state has ruled for a hundred years, peace reigns under heaven and Confucian learning flourishes once more, yet in the art of calligraphy alone has there been no comparable renaissance, so much so that the art itself stands on the brink of dying out. So if one were to seek the likes of Zhongshu's small character regular script today it simply cannot be done. When I have occasion to speak with Junmo on the subject,[21] this matter gives us no small cause for lament. The stele itself is to be found in Xuzhou. Written on the Twentieth Day of the Twelfth Month of the Eighth Year of Elegant Safekeeping.



Guo Zhongshu's Copy of the Classic of the Harmony of the Seen and the Unseen
Guo Zhongshu shu Yinfu Jing 郭忠恕書蔭符經

The item to the right is the Classic of the Harmony of the Seen and the Unseen written in the hand of Guo Zhongshu whose proficiency in the seal script remains unrivalled since the days of Li Yangbing[22] in the Tang, and although there are many in recent times who seek to emulate his style, there are none who can match his skill.[23] The Veritable Records indicate that the circumstances surrounding Zhongshu's death were unusual.[24] Can there be much doubt that by this time he had become an adept in the alchemical arts? His regular script is also quite exquisite, though he is less renowned for it.

This colophon written at berth for the night, resting after a feast on the Fifteenth Day of the Ninth Month of the Sixth Year of Emperor Renzong's Reign of Elegant Safekeeping [1061], having taken advantage of an idle moment to flip through these pages.



The Inscription at Saiyang Mountain
Saiyang Shan wen 賽陽山文

Note: Dated Ninth Year of the Taihe Reign Period (835)

This colophon commemorates six men, all scholars of renown. Once, during my days at the Hanlin Academy and on the occasion of the quarterly seasonal imperial sacrifices, a feast was held at the bureau for the collation of a new history of the Tang. Six of us played games of go and drank together well into the night, finally heading our separate ways in highest spirits. Truly it was a gathering for the ages. The next summer Linji and Shengyu both passed away, and another nine years later Yuanfu and Changwen were also taken from us. From that day in the Fourth Year of Emperor Renzong's Reign of Elegant Safekeeping (1059) to today in the Fourth Year of Emperor Shenzong's Reign of Serene Peace (1071) a full cycle of twelve years has already gone by. Four of those present that day have died, leaving just three still among the living. Of them, Zezhi has fallen afoul of harsh ministers who have accused him of misconduct and dismissed from his post, and Jingren too has run into trouble by virtue of his own forthrightness. I alone hang on stubbornly, and by the good graces of the Emperor remain safe and whole. But my obstinate desire for fame and glory permits me no reprieve from work, and, though my body is weary, here I am still dragging these old bones about with more and more effort. My old companions are scattered to the winds and I fear there is no hope in regaining such friendships as I have known. Such is the sorrow that life's vicissitudes bring to bear upon the heart. At that time twelve years ago there were seven men working with me on a new history of the Tang. Five of those are also passed away; Song Zijing, Wang Jingyi, Lü Jinshu, Liu Zhonggeng and Shengyu. The survivors are but two in number: Cidao and Yi.[25] Last year Cidao was made the special drafting official of the Secretariat and later dismissed for his refusal to draft the decree promoting Li Ding to the position of Official Companion to the Heir Apparent.[26]

Moved by the inconstancy of life and death, and the irrevocable slide of the present into the past, I decided to write this commemoration on this Fifteenth Day of the Third Month of the Xinhai year of Emperor Shenzong's Reign of Serene Peace [1071], while on sick leave.

賽陽山文 太和九年 誤寘于此


Related material from China Heritage Quarterly:


[1] A chapter in Ronald Egan, The Problem of Beauty: Aesthetic Thought and Pursuits in Northern Song Dynasty China, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006.

[2] Op.cit., p.59.

[3] Patricia Ebry, Accumulating Culture: The Collections of Emperor Huizong, Seattle & London: University of Washington Press, 2008.

[4] See ' 'Black Tigers' (hei laohu 黑老虎)', China Heritage Quarterly, Issue 23 (September 2010), at:

[5] The term bafen 八分 first emerged towards the end of the Han dynasty and literally means 'eight-out-of-ten' script, that is, eight parts Lesser Seal Script (xiaozhuanshu 小篆書) and two parts of the contemporary Clerical Script (lishu 隸書). According to an oft-cited quotation from the famous poet Cai Wenji 蔡文姬 (b.177), her father, the master calligrapher Cai Yong 蔡邕 (132-192), produced the bafen script, claiming that he 'discarded eighty percent of Cheng Miao's 程邈 [240-207 BCE] Clerical Script (lishu 隸書), keeping twenty percent, and discarded twenty percent of Li Si's 李斯 (ca.280-208BCE) Seal Script, keeping eighty percent.' Many sources, however, associate its creation with a certain Wang Cizhong 王次仲 of Shanggu. Qigong 啓功 suggests that the sudden appearance of the term bafen during the transitional period between the Han and Wei dynasties was the result of a need to distinguish between the old form of the Clerical Script and the its new forms, whose stylistic innovations anticipated the later Regular Script (kaishu 楷書), for instance, in the abandonment of the pause at the beginning of a horizontal stroke (the cantou 蠶頭 or 'silkworm's head') and the vertical flicking at the end of stroke (the yanwei 燕尾 or 'swallow's tail'). In this sense, the terms bafen and Old Clerical Script are essentially interchangeable, and as such Wang Cizhong, traditionally credited with being 'the first to change the form of archaic script' and standardising the Qin Clerical Script in the Han, can indeed by this token be seen as the creator of the bafen script. For a discussion of this terms, see Qi Gong [Qigong], 'A Discourse On Chinese Epigraphy', in Qi Huang, ed., Chinese Characters Then and Now, New York, Springer-Verlag Wein, 2004, pp.44-48.

[6] Mingzhou is present-day Ningbo.

[7] Posthumous title of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang. He was the third son of Emperor Ruizong, who was himself a son of Empress Wu. His reign of forty-three years—712–56—was a high point of Tang culture and power and the longest of the dynasty.

[8] Yan Zhenqing 嚴真卿 (707-83) was a leading calligrapher of the Tang who was to have a great influence on the subsequent development of calligraphy. He specialized in both the Regular and the Grass (Caoshu 草書) Scripts, although he also mastered other styles of calligraphy as well. His hand is noted for its strong brush strokes, connoting, traditionally, strength, boldness and grandeur. Yan also served as a high-ranking official in the army.

[9] Chu Suiliang 褚遂良 (597-658) was a famous politician and calligrapher, formally Duke of Henan 河南公. He was a chancellor of the Tang dynasty during the reigns of Emperor Taizong (r.627-49) and his son, Emperor Gaozong (r.650-83). He began with studying Yu Shinan's 虞世南 (558-638) calligraphy, then later on studied Zhong You and Wang Xizhi.

[10] Song Jing 宋璟 (663-737) was an official during the Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as the chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Ruizong and Emperor Xuanzong. Song passed the imperial examinations at a precocious age.

[11] Zhong Yao 鍾繇 (151-230) was a calligrapher and politician of Cao Wei. At one stage he was the Grand Administrator of Chang'an, and later appointed as the Grand Tutor of Wei. He was a student of Cai Yong, and contributed to the development of the Regular Script, to the extent that some refer to Zhong Yao as the 'Father of the Regular Script'. His famous works survived through hand-copies, some of which written by Wang Xizhi.

[12] Wang Xizhi 王羲之 (303-361) is the most highly regarded calligrapher in Chinese history, also referred to as the 'Sage of Calligraphy' (Shusheng 書聖). His style has had a great influence on all calligraphers who came after him. He also held various government posts before retiring in 355. The significance and admiration of Wang Xizhi's calligraphy is illustrated by the fact that even Chinese emperors collected his works, namely Emperor Taizong. He is credited with developing the Running Script (Xingshu 行書) style of calligraphy, and for writing in Grass Script (Caoshu 草書) style.

[13] Pan Shidan 潘師旦 was a famous artist, calligrapher and novelist, also known as Pan Boying 潘伯鷹, ranked in the imperial court as the Secretarial Court Gentlemen.

[14] Cheng Miao was a calligrapher and low-rank official during the Qin dynasty. He is thought to have invented the Clerical Script. Cheng Miao had offended the First Emperor and served a ten-year sentence in prison, in which he spent working on this new development, opening up endless possibilities for later calligraphers. His talent was discovered later on and he was promoted to being an imperial historian.

[15] Wei Shuo 衛鑠 (272-349) was a calligrapher of the Eastern Jin dynasty, commonly addressed as Lady Wei. She established important rules about the Regular Script. Her famous work 'Diagram of the Battle Formation of the Brush' (Bizhen tu 筆陣圖) describes the Seven Powers (qi shi 七勢) that later became the famous 'Eight Principles of the Character Yong' (Yong zi ba fa 永字八法). Lady Wei was a student of Zhong Yao, and her famous disciple was Wang Xizhi.

[16] Wang Zhu 王著 (ca. 928-969), an accomplished calligrapher from the conquered state of Later Shu, was charged by the Emperor Taizong of the Song (r. 976-997) to select the finest works of calligraphy from the Imperial Archives, many of which been obtained from the courts of conquered states or purchased by the emperor's agents. Wang was also given the authority to purchase or borrow works from private collectors in the capital city and the resulting collection, consisting of 419 individual works in ten volumes, was carved into wooden blocks in the Third Year of Taizong's Chunhua reign period (992). Although never given an official title, the collection came to be known popularly as the Chunhua ge tie 淳化閣帖 (Official Letters in the Imperial Archives in the Chunhua Era) or the guan fatie 官法帖 ('Government Model Letters'). The collection shows a preponderance of the works of Wang Xizhi and his son Wang Xianzhi 王献之 with the last five volumes, 233 pieces in all, completely dedicated to the calligraphy of these two men. Wang Zhu's critical judgment was criticized by later scholars, who deemed many of the works in the collection to be fakes, or else not adequately representative of the finest works in the tradition. For an excellent discussion of the collection, see Amy McNair 'The Engraved Model-Letters Compendia of the Song Dynasty', Journal of the American Oriental Society, 114.2 (1994): 209-25.

[17] Xue Zhongru 薛仲孺 (zi: Gongqi 公期), was the nephew of Xue Kui, who later adopted him as his son. Xue Kui was the father of Ouyang Xiu's third wife and the mother of his children. As in-laws, Ouyang Xiu referred to Xue Zhongru as his 'ninth elder brother'.

[18] Xu Xuan 徐鉉 (917-92) enjoyed a long and distinguished career in officialdom, serving first at the court of Wu in his late teens and then, after Wu's replacement by the Southern Tang, serving under all three rulers of that dynasty. When Song forces laid siege to the Southern Tang capital at Nanjing, Xu Xuan was sent to negotiate the terms of an armistice. Although unsuccessful in this attempt, his conduct on this occasion seems to have suitably impressed the Song Emperor and after the fall of the Southern Tang he was brought on to serve at the Song court, where he ended his long career. Xu Xuan was also a prolific scholar. In the early Song he contributed to the production of three of the four great books of Song, the Taiping Yulan 太平御覽, the Taiping Guangji 太平廣記 and the Wenyuan Yinghua 文苑英華, and compiled, under imperial commission, the histories of both the previous dynasties under which he had served. His redaction of the Shuowen Jiezi 說文解字 is the earliest complete edition of the work, and the edition on which all later Shuowen scholarship is based. He also displayed a keen interest in tales of the supernatural (zhiguai 志怪) and composed many works on the subject, most notably his collection of such stories, 'Investigating Spirits' (Jishen Lu 稽神錄). His calligraphy too was in great demand in his own time. For a brief biography of this man, see Hellmut Wilhelm in Herbert Frank, ed., Sung Biographies, Munich: Münchener Ostasiatische Studien, 1976, pp.425-28. Xu Kai died, reputedly 'of fright and sorrow', at the time of the Song conquest of Southern Tang, for which, see Hellmut Wilhelm in Herbert Frank, ed., Sung Biographies, Munich: Münchener Ostasiatische Studien, 1976, p.426.

[19] Li Yu 李煜 (zi: Chongguang 重光, 937-978), was the third and final ruler of the Southern Tang, ascending the throne in 961 and spending the final years of his life captive in the Song capital after the conquest of his kingdom. He is often regarded as the first true master of the ci or lyric form of poetry. Formally regarded as a genre restricted to trivial themes, such as love between a man and a woman, and associated with sing-song houses and women, the genre acquired a new depth of expression under his pen, exploring themes of loss, nostalgia and the transience of human life. Xu Xuan himself was supposed to have played an unwitting part in his former liege's demise. After Taizong had suggested to Xuan a visit to Li Yu, then under house arrest, the emperor had supposedly found their interaction too intimate and had Li Yu poisoned to forestall the possibility of wavering loyalty. Xuan was subsequently given the task of writing his former emperor's obituary. See William Nienhauser, Jr. ed., The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1986, pp.555-56. See also, Hellmut Wilhelm in Herbert Frank, ed., Sung Biographies, p.425.

[20] Guo Zhongshu 郭忠恕 (zi: 恕先, 930-977), is primarily remembered as a painter, renowned especially for his depictions of architecture in the Tang style, and as a calligrapher famous for his hand in the seal and clerical scripts. As a boy of seven he succeeded in the special Tongzi 童子 examinations, which were set for candidates under the age of fifteen recommended by the local prefect and who were well versed in the classics and in the composition of poetry. His official career should have been full of promise, and indeed was not without some measure of success and he served in a number of administrative positions under the Later Han, the Later Zhou and finally under the Song. However his career was marred by multiple scandals, most often attributed to his erratic behaviour and irascible temperament, which were often exacerbated by a strong proclivity to drink. Later in life he resigned from office and became a wandering Daoist hermit, roaming the mountains of Northern China until close to his death. He is thought to have practiced various Daoist disciplines, including fasting, reportedly he would be so awed by the beauty of his natural surrounds that he would forego eating for long periods on end. It was during this period that he first became renowned as a painter, apparently in a self-taught style, which he would sometimes practice in the heights of inebriation. He would sometimes be greatly affronted if requested to paint, but would offer to do so when the mood took him. He briefly returned to office at the very end of his life under the emperor Taizong as Registrar in the Directorate of Education, where his duties included the editing of calligraphic exemplars. This post too ended in disgrace and dismissal. Guo was also the author of a number of works dealing with questions of lexicography and palaeography. See Hsio-yen Shih in Herbert Frank, ed., Sung Biographies: Painters, Munich: Münchener Ostasiatische Studien, 1976, pp.69-76.

[21] Cai Xiang 蔡襄, zi: Junmo 君謨, 1016-67, gained his jinshi degree at the young age of eighteen and subsequently held a number of high posts in both central and provincial government. Su Shi praised his calligraphy as being the best of the age and he came to be regarded as one of the four master calligraphers of the Song along with Su Shi himself, Huang Tingjian and Mi Fu. See Y. Shiba in Herbert Frank, ed., Sung Biographies, pp.1026-29.

[22] Li Yangbing 李陽冰, zi: Shaowen 少温, was a major calligrapher in the Tang Dynasty, uncle to the poet Li Bai, though younger than him in age.

[23] The Classic of the Harmony of the Seen and the Unseen (Yinfu jing 陰符經), or The Yellow Emperor's Classic of the Harmony of the Seen and the Unseen (Huangdi yinfu jing 黃帝陰符經) is a major Daoist treatise, and one of the most significant works of the Daoist Canon besides the Dao de jing itself. Traditionally the authorship of the text was ascribed to the Yellow Emperor or one of his ministers, however there is no evidence to suggest that the work predates the eighth century and most modern scholars hold the view it was most likely forged by Li Quan in the Tang Dynasty. On this text, see James Legge, Texts of Daoism, Vol.2, New York: Dover Publications, 1962, pp.255-64.

[24] After being dismissed from his post and flogged, Guo Zhongshu was exiled to Dengzhou in Shandong. En route Guo is supposed to have had a vision of his own imminent death, whereupon he informed his escort, dug himself a shallow hole in the earth and lay down in it. According to one legend, after some months the emperor granted permission for Guo's body to be given a proper burial, however when it was exhumed from his makeshift grave it was found to be as light as a cicada's slough. Another account has his body mysteriously vanished on excavation, with only his clothes and hair ornaments left behind. In the Painting Catalogue of the Xuanhe Era (Xuanhe huapu 宣和畫譜) commissioned by Emperor Huizong towards the end of his reign, Guo is recorded as having been exiled to Jiangdu (modern Jiangsu) and an extra supernatural element is added to the story, one which claims that some years after his death Guo was seen in the company of the famous Daoist hermit and immortal, Chen Tuan on Mount Hua. See, Hsio-yen Shih in Herbert Frank, ed., Sung Biographies: Painters, pp.72-73.

[25] Jiang Xiufu 江修復 (zi: Linji 鄰幾). Mei Yaochen 梅堯臣 (zi: Shengyu 聖俞, 1002-1062) was one of the most significant poets of the Song, well renowned for his wide circle of notable friends, his house became something of a centre for social and literary gatherings. He worked with Ouyang Xiu on the compilation of the New History of the Tang. See James Liu in Herbert Frank, ed., Sung Biographies, pp.761-69. Liu Chang 劉敞 (zi: Yuanfu 原父, 1019-1068), gained his jinshi degree, placing first in the imperial examinations, after which he held a number of prominent official posts, distinguishing himself for his frank and forthright counsel. He also shared with Ouyang Xiu a deep interest in epigraphy for which, see I. Inaba in Herbert Frank, ed., Sung Biographies, pp.622-23. Wu Kui 吴奎 (zi: Changwen, 1011-1068); Zu Wuze 祖無擇 (zi: Zezhi 擇之, 1006-1085); Fan Zhen 范鎮 (zi: Jingren 景仁, 1007-1088); Song Qi 宋祁 (zi: Zijing 子京, 998–1061); Wang Chou 王疇 (zi: Jingyi 景彝, 1007-1065); Lü Xiaqing 吕夏卿 (zi: Jinshu 縉叔, 1018-1070); Liu Yiyu 劉義臾 (zi: Zhonggeng 仲更, 1015-1060). Song Minqiu 宋敏求 (zi: Cidao 次道, 1019-1079), was an official and noted historian, who was especially famous for his vast collection of books numbering approximately 30,000 juan. According to one account, in order to avail themselves of Song's library, so many scholars moved to the area near his house that they sent the price of rent through the roof.

[26] Li Ding 李定 (1028-87) was a protégé of Wang Anshi and major proponent of the New Policies. He drew heavy criticism for purportedly being remiss in his mourning obligations for his mother. Li also played a major part in the imprisonment of the poet and statesman Su Shi, accusing him of mocking the New Policies and by extension the emperor in one of his poems. When emperor Shenzong sought to promote Li Ding to the position of Official Companion to the Heir Apparent (太子中允), Song Minqiu, at that time serving as special drafting official for the Secretariat (知制誥), refused to draft the decree on the grounds that so great a promotion, skipping as it did many bureaucratic ranks, was improper. Thwarted, the emperor turned to Su Song 蘇頌 and Li Dalin 李大臨 both of whom also refused to draft the decree. After a number of increasingly heated exchanges, with Su Song in particular, the emperor dismissed all three men from their posts. The three men came to be known as the 'Three Drafters' (san she ren 三舍人) and were praised for their moral rectitude.