Stele Inscriptions in Standard Script of the Jin and Tang Dynasties

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This book contains works from the famous calligraphers Wang Xizhi and Yu Shinan of the Eastern Jin Dynasty in the 4th century to the Tang dynasty in the 7th to 8th centuries. It contains rubbings on stone and wood of 11 works of renowned calligraphers in small standard script. These were created by carving the works into stone or wood to transfer, and then printed onto paper, with the black and white in reverse. These rubbings are a portion of a collection put together by Shi Bangzhe in the 12th century Southern Song dynasty, in a copybook titled Ancient Calligraphy Manual. A copybook is generally a book that includes a compilation of outstanding examples of calligraphy.

The Ancient Calligraphy Manual was said to originally consist of 27 different rubbings. There are no full copies of the copybook in existence, but it seems that most of the works were in small standard script. Throughout the history of China, much significance was placed on becoming a government official and having a successful career. The Chinese civil servant exams were used to determine who would become an official, and in these exams, the beauty of the characters used to complete the exam papers was evaluated as well. Examinees were required to write in beautiful standard script. Therefore, masterpieces of standard script were widely valued as excellent calligraphy models. The publication of Ancient Calligraphy Manual led to the inclusion of more works in small standard script in many copybooks even during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

This stele inscription in standard script of the Jin and Tang dynasties features exquisite carving of the block, as well as printing, and recalls the Ancient Calligraphy Manual, which has been regarded as a masterpiece for long. It has been well cared for and passed through the hands of well-known collectors.

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