Eight Poems of the Xiao and XiangArtist(s)Duli Xingyi (J. DokyrObject Creation Date1666Medium & Supporthanging scroll, ink on paperDimensions
48 5/8 in. x 21 7/16 in. ( 123.5 cm x 54.5 cm )Credit LineMuseum Purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection FundLabel copy
Duli was a native of Zhejiang province in southeastern China. Trained as a physician, he also achieved fame as a poet and calligrapher in his homeland before the age of thirty. In 1653, several years after the fall of the Ming dynasty, he emigrated to Nagasaki, Japan, which had become a place of refuge for many Chinese monks and intellectuals who were uprooted by the dynastic change. One year later another exile arrived in Nagasaki, the prominent Huangbo Ch’an (Ôbaku Zen) abbot, Yinyuan (1592–1673; Yinyuan’s calligraphy is on view elsewhere in the gallery). Duli, at the age 58, became Yinyuan’s disciple and secretary.
Duli traveled widely in Japan, where he was as much admired for his skills in the traditional arts of the Chinese scholar—calligraphy, poetry and seal carving—as his medical learning and engineering. His calligraphy, in particular, introduced the Japanese to a new strand of Ming style brushwork, which was both more fluid and more syncopated than that transmitted in earlier centuries.
In this remarkable example of his work—one of the best known to be in a Western collection—Duli has written out not a Zen aphorism but a series of classical poems extolling the beauty of the landscape in southern China. He maintains the same pace, rhythm, and energy throughout, as though it were brushed “with one breath.” There is no higher praise for a Chinese calligrapher.
Arts of Zen, Spring 2003
M. Graybill, Senior Curator of Asian ArtPrimary Object Classification Painting Primary Object Typehanging scrollRights
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