May 21, 2018
May 21, 2018

Calligraphy in Semi-Cursive Style (xing-caoshu)

Calligraphy in Semi-Cursive Style (xing-caoshu)

c. 1660–1709

Yueshan Daozong 悅山道宗

(Chinese, 1629–1709)

Hanging scroll; ink on paper

Image: 28.6 x 64.1 cm (11 1/4 x 25 1/4 in.); Overall with knobs: 115.6 x 73.8 cm (45 1/2 x 29 1/16 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert T. Gow 2003.353



This spontaneous, bold calligraphy style is characteristic of members of the Japanese Ōbaku school (Huangbo in Chinese) of Chan (Zen in Japanese) Buddhism, which was founded in Japan by Chinese monks in the 1600s. The monk Yueshan emigrated to Japan from the Chinese province of Fujian, taking a priestly post at Manpukuji, the headquarters of the Ōbaku school in Japan. He later became the seventh abbot of the distinguished temple.

Yueshan’s calligraphy features rounded characters that allow him to fuse strokes and characters in speedy brush movements. Here the text begins with the large character chu (“the beginning”), the initial focus of meditation on the text: The dragon murmurs after sunset. The tiger roars before dawn.

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