"Wu-i ko" Poems

Tags: calligraphy | Ming dynasty | National Palace Museum


Wang Ch'ung (1494-1533), Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
Handscroll, ink on paper, 29.3 x 294.7 cm 
Wang Ch'ung (styles name Lü-jen and Lü-chi; sobriquet Ya-i shan-jen), a native of Soochow, was the son the merchant Wang Chen, who also collected antiquities as well as painting and calligraphy. Influenced by his father, Wang Ch'ung studied with his brother under Wen Cheng-ming (1470-1559) and Ts'ai Yu, excelling at poetry and prose. His calligraphy followed the style of Wang Hsien-chih (344-386) and Yü Shih-nan (558-638). Wang is known along with Chu Yün-ming and Wen Cheng-ming as one of the "Three Talents of Soochow."

This is a handscroll of semi-cursive calligraphy that flies and darts across the paper. Wang's application of the brush was somewhat stiff, with only the turns of the brush being slightly softer, giving a slightly harsh yet archaic effect. Although in modern cursive, the characters in this work are practically independent with a sense of draft cursive. The right-falling strokes of some characters, such as "mien 眠", "t'ai 泰" and "lieh 裂", also suggest a touch of clerical script. These poems were done at the age of 34 and written on stiff sutra paper from Mt. Chin-su, which highlights Wang's quick and forceful brushwork as well as the areas where he lifted and pressed the brush. This work is one of the best surviving ones by Wang Ch'ung.

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum