Artist's inscription and signature:
Lady Xuanwen is Wei Cheng’s mother, nee Song. Her father transmitted to her the text, Zhou guan ying yi [The phonetics and meanings of the Rites of Zhou], and told her thus: “It is our family’s tradition to uphold and continue the Zhou guan from one generation to the next. In addition, this text was written by the Duke of Zhou; it contains classics, annals, laws, titles, all officials and numerous things. It is your duty to receive it.” Lady [Xuanwen] studied and recited the book without cease. Emperor Shi [Shi Fu 石虎, 295–349] moved his capital to Shandong. As a consequence, Lady followed suit by pushing a deer cart while carrying the manuscript from her father on her back. Wei Cheng at the time was a mere child. Consequently Lady gathered firewood during the day and taught Wei Cheng at nights. It came to pass that Wei Cheng became erudite, gained fame, and served as chamberlain for ceremonials under Fu Jian. Fu Jian often visited the National University. While raising questions about the [current state of] classics to those erudites, he lamented the losses of such texts regarding rites and music. One of those erudites, Lu Hu, responded: “Such matters have been laid waste for some time. Their transmissions were in fragments. In successive years, we have compiled a rough compendium of all classics. The only missing piece is Zhou guan, for which we do not have an instructor. Now it comes to my attention that Madam Song, the mother of Wei Cheng, the chamberlain for ceremonials, is from a family of scholars; she [is a rarity] of a woman who carried on her father’s learning and is well versed in Zhou guan ying yi. She now is in her eightieth year, and is deficient in neither seeing nor hearing. Except for her, there is no one who could take on this duty for instructing the young.” As a result, it was decided to erect a lecture hall in Madame Song’s mansion, while recruiting and placing under her care a total of 120 younger scholars. By setting up a red gauze curtain [separating herself from her students], she began the instruction.
On this second day of the eighth month, the year of wuyin of the Chongzhen era , is the birthday of my aunt. My cousin Zicheng is her son-in-law. He, together with my aunt’s second daughter, Luomi, also the maternal grandsons Ying, Nan, Bian, Yun, Leng, Bing, and granddaughter Hui, poured wine to honor the birthday lady. In addition, it was their request that I should make a painting to celebrate the occasion. I have thought that Madame Song lived during the time when the Five Barbarian Tribes were holding sway and the classics were being assigned to women. Now is the time of peace; it is rare to see women [wise enough to] uphold correctness in titles and ranks, except for my aunt. Thereupon, I respectfully painted this picture, while also placing my earnest anticipation for [great deeds] from my cousin and his offspring. Your nephew, Hongshou, bows his head nine times.