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Wild Cursive Calligraphy in Ming Dynasty: A study of Collection, Appraisal and Writing in Wu and Surrounding Areas

LUNG Tak Chun

The period of Tang and Song have been occupying the focus in the contemporary researches of wild cursive calligraphy, whereas the later period such as the period of Ming has received inadequate attention. Therefore, this research aims to reconsider how wild cursive calligraphy develops in relation to the idea of calligraphy characteristic to the period of Ming.

Wild cursive calligraphy has been evolving since the Tang Dynasty and its development flourished in the Ming Dynasty as the practice of wild cursive calligraphy transformed from a lowbrow performance into an elegant practice of writing. At the end of Yuan Dynasty, wild cursive calligraphy became popular among literati groups. In the early Ming period, an increasing number of literati were involved as connoisseurs and practitioners of wild cursive calligraphy. We could observe that their calligraphic styles and skills were richly varied as well as distinctive.

This research aims to offer a thorough discussion on questions concerning 1) the interrelations between the idea of calligraphy in the Ming Dynasty and the practice of wild cursive calligraphy, on the basis of the revival of Jin tradition in Ming dynasty and re-evaluation of Zhang Xu and Huai Su; 2) the relationship between literary criticism and calligraphic criticism and canonization of Tang-style wild cursive calligraphy; and 3) the transformation of wild cursive calligraphy from the collection, appraisal, and spreading of Zhang Xu and Huai Su works among Ming connoisseurs and calligraphers.