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Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain

Emperor Gaozong (Chinese, 1107–1187, r. 1127–1162)

Period:
Song dynasty (960–1279)
Date:
after 1162
Culture:
China
Medium:
Round fan mounted as album leaf; ink on silk
Dimensions:
9 1/4 x 9 5/8 in. (23.5 x 24.4 cm)
Classification:
Calligraphy
Credit Line:
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
Accession Number:
1989.363.6
  • Description

    In 1162, at the age of fifty-five, Gaozong retired from the throne to devote his final years to the arts, especially the study of calligraphy. He began by following the styles of Huang Tingjian (1045–1105) and Mi Fu (1052–1107) but in his later years concen-trated on the works of Wang Xizhi (ca. 303–ca. 361) and other pre-Tang masters whose works he was able to collect and study firsthand. This fan clearly dates after 1162; written in the Wang style, it bears a seal with the name of Gaozong's retirement palace, Virtuous Longevity.

    The poem, laden with occult and astrological references, reads in part:

    Dark [. . .] from Heavenly Mountain
    divides the turbid and the vast.
    Ministered by the second hexagram, the elixir
    pours in a liquid jade.
    As I stand at the north-northeast and the south-
    southwest gates of the compass,
    I see the flash of rosy lights, ten thousand feet in
    the air.

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
40058

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