The sage of calligraphy of China
Chinese Name: 王羲之
English Name: Wang Xizhi
Other Names: Wang Youjun 王右军, Wang Kuaiji 王会稽, Wang Yishao 王逸少
Calligraphic creation 书法创作
The Preface to Orchid Pavilion 兰亭集序
Brief Biography of Wang Xizhi
Wang Xizhi, the minister and calligrapher of the Eastern Jin Dynasty 东晋, the son-in-law of Tai Wei Xi Jian 郗鉴, is known as the “Sage of Calligraphy”.
Wang Xizhi (303-361), courtesy name Yishao 逸少, is a native of Langya 琅琊 Linyi 临沂 (today’s Linyi City 临沂市, Shandong Province 山东省).
He has successively served as Secretary Lang 秘书郎, Jiangzhou Governor 江州刺史, Kuaiji Marshal 会稽太守, and moved to the general of the Right Army 右军将军, known as the “Wang Right Army 王右军”. In the ninth year of Yonghe 永和 (353), Lanting Yaji was organized. The Preface to Orchid Pavilion 兰亭序 has become “the best running script in the world”. In the 11th year of Yonghe (355), he abandoned his official position and moved to Jinting 金庭, Shaoxing 绍兴. He died in the fifth year of Shengping 升平 (361) and was buried in Jinting Waterfall Mountain.
He is good at calligraphy. He is also good at the clerical, cursive, regular script, and line writing. He picks up many talents and studies various styles. He gets rid of the style of writing in the Han and Wei Dynasties and has a far-reaching influence. The style is gentle and natural, the brushwork is tactful and implicit, elegant and beautiful. In the history of calligraphy, Zhong You and Wang Xizhi were called the “Zhong Wang 钟王” together.
Personal Life and Major Contributions
Come from a very good family
Wang Xizhi was born in the famous Langya Wang family 琅琊王氏 in the Wei and Jin Dynasties. He was the second son of Wang Kuang 王旷. His hometown was Nanrenli 南仁里, Linyi County 临沂县, Langya State 琅琊国. He was born in the second year of Tai’an 太安, Emperor Hui of Jin (303). As a child, he lived in Kaiyang County 开阳县. When he was born, it was in the turmoil of the Eight Kings and the Western Jin Dynasty was in danger. His father Wang Kuang suggested that the Langya King Sima Rui 司马睿 move south.
When Wang Xizhi was five years old, many famous families, including the Langya Wang family, joined Sima Rui to cross the river. When Langya Wang first came to Jianye, they lived in Wuyi Lane 乌衣巷.
In the third year of Yongjia (309), Wang Kuang led the army to Huguan. The whole army was defeated and its whereabouts were unknown. He was seven years old that year. During his days in Jianye 建业, he studied calligraphy and was enlightened by his father Wang Kuang, and uncle Wang Xuan. He also learned books from his aunt, Mrs. Wei.
Embark on an official career
Around the third year of Taining 太宁 (325 years), Wang Xizhi was promoted by his uncle Wang Bin 王彬 and his father-in-law Xi Jian 郗鉴. Although secretary Lang was not of high quality, he was very idle. Xizhi lived a quiet life and continued to study calligraphy with more time. The secretary has collected the handwriting of Zhong You 钟繇, Hu Zhao 胡昭, Zhang Zhi 张芝, Suo Jing 索靖, Wei Sheng 韦诞, Huang Xiang 皇象, and other famous calligraphers of the previous and current dynasties, and Wang Xizhi can enjoy and copy these treasures. At the same time, he also learned calligraphy skills with his own family and other big family children.
Around the fourth year of Xianhe 咸和 (329), Wang Xizhi was the governor of Linchuan. Linchuan is a remote place with few people, far away from the two banks of the Yangtze River where there are frequent wars. Life is relatively quiet. Wang Xizhi took his mother and wife to the office together. He made great efforts to clean up the accumulated disadvantages, sought the people’s privacy, asked for orders from the people, and had a good reputation.
In May and June of the eighth year of Xiankang 咸康’s reign (342), Wang Xizhi took over the post of Jiangzhou’s governor and took up the position of general Ningyuan.
In the seventh year of Yonghe 永和’s reign (351), Wang Shu 王述, the former internal historian of Kuaiji, lost his mother and resigned. Wang Xizhi was ordered to be the general of the Right Army and the internal historian of Kuaiji.
Gathering at Orchid Pavilion
In the ninth year of Yonghe 永和 (353), on the third day of the third month of the lunar calendar, Wang Xizhi, Xie An 谢安, Sun Chuo 孙绰, and other 42 people were drinking and composing poems when they were in Shaoxing 绍兴 Lanting. Finally, 26 people left the poem “Orchid Pavilion”, and Wang Xizhi wrote one four-character poem and one five-character poem respectively.
The Orchid Pavilion poems of all people were collected into a poetry collection. Wang Xizhi improvised a preface to this poetry collection, recording the elegant collection of literati at that time. This is the famous Preface to Orchid Pavilion.