Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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唐 傳鍾紹京 楷書靈飛經 冊
Spiritual Flight Sutra

Artist:
Attributed to Zhong Shaojing (Chinese, active ca. 713–41)
Period:
Tang dynasty (618–907)
Date:
ca. 738
Culture:
China
Medium:
Album of nine leaves; ink on paper
Dimensions:
Each leaf: 8 3/16 x 3 1/2 in. (20.8 x 8.9 cm)
Classification:
Calligraphy
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1989
Accession Number:
1989.141.1a–i
Not on view
The copying of sutras, the sacred texts of Buddhism and Daoism, was an act of devotion as well as a means of propagating the faith. It required a special brush, paper of a conventional size with a vertical grid, and the use of the strictest, most formal script. This hallowed fragment of a Daoist religious text meets all of those requirements yet has an elegance and fluency that elevate it beyond normal sutra writing.

Commissioned in 738 by Princess Yuzhen, a daughter of Emperor Xuanzong (r. 712–56), this writing exemplifies the sophisticated court style of the High Tang period. The small script is balanced and harmonious, with every hook, stroke, and dot perfectly defined and executed. Applied with a stiff, long-pointed brush, each stroke shows clean, crisp movements and graceful, saber-sharp turns. Individual characters are straight, upright, and firmly built, with a rectangular frame of supports and walls. The construction of the characters reveals an analytical process: different types of brushstrokes are seen as forces (shi) in a dynamic composition, each having a perfect form and a “method” (fa) of interacting with the other strokes; each character, with its elegant, carefully considered deployment of those forces, exemplifies a model of physical equilibrium and spiritual repose.

In the early seventeenth century, this sutra was acquired by the influential painter, calligrapher, and theorist Dong Qichang (1555–1636), who regarded it as one of the finest extant examples of Tang-dynasty small writing. Dong reluctantly lent the sutra to a Mr. Zhen for inclusion in a set of rubbings of model calligraphies, the Bohai cangzhen, but held back twelve columns for safekeeping. Dong was justified in his apprehension; the surviving forty-three columns that we celebrate today are those that were removed from the sutra by the unscrupulous Mr. Zhen.
Inscription: Artist's inscription (685 characters, 43 columns in standard script)

行此道,忌淹污、經死亡之家,不得與人同床寢,衣服不假人,禁食五辛及一切肉。又對近婦人尤禁之甚,令人神亡魂亡,生邪失性,災及三世,死為下鬼,常當燒香於寢床之首也。上清瓊宮玉符,乃是太極上宮四真人,所受於太上之道,當須精誠潔心,澡除五累,遺穢污之塵濁,杜淫欲之失正,目存六精,凝思玉真,香煙散室,孤身幽房,積毫累著,和魂保中,仿佛五神,遊生三宮,豁空競於常輩,守寂默以感通者,六甲之神不逾年而降已也。子能精修此道,必破券登仙矣。信而奉者為靈人,不信者將身沒九泉矣。

上清六甲虛映之道,當得至精至真之人,乃得行之,行之既速,致通降而靈氣易發。久勤修之,坐在立亡,長生久視,變化萬端,行廚卒致也。

九疑真人韓偉遠,昔受此方於中岳宋德玄。德玄者,周宣王時人,服此靈飛六甲得道,能一日行三千里,數變形為鳥獸,得真靈之道。今在嵩高,偉遠久隨之,乃得受法,行之道成,今處九疑山,其女子有郭芍藥、趙愛兒、王魯連等。并受此法而得道者,復數十人。或游玄洲,或處東華,方諸臺今見在也。南岳魏夫人言此云: “郭芍藥者,漢度遼將軍陽平郭騫女也,少好道,精誠真人因授其六甲。趙愛兒者,幽州刺史劉虞別駕漁陽趙該婦也,好道得尸解,後又受此符。王魯連者,魏明帝城門校尉范陵王伯綱女也,亦學道,一旦忽委婿李子期,入陸渾山中,真人又授此法。子期者,司州魏人,清河王傅者也,其常言此婦狂走云,一旦失所在。”

上清六甲靈飛隱道,服此真符,遊行八方,行此真書,當得其人。按四極明科,傳上清內書者,皆列盟奉[貝危]啟誓乃宣之,七百年得付六人,過年限足不得復出洩也。其受符者,皆對齋七日,[貝危]有經之師。上金六兩,白素六十尺,金鐶六雙,青絲六兩,五色繒各廿二尺,以代剪髮歃血登壇之誓,以盟奉行靈符,玉名不洩之信矣。違盟負信,三祖父母獲風刀之考,詣積夜之河,摙蒙山巨石,填之水津。有經之師受[貝危],當施散於山林之寒栖,或投東流之清遠,不得私用。割損以贍己利,不遵科法,三官考察,死為下鬼。

Label strip

Weng Wan’ge 翁萬戈 (Wan-go Weng, born 1919), 2 columns in standard script, dated 1988; 1 seal:

Spiritual Flight Sutra, a genuine work by a Tang calligrapher, in forty-three columns. Weng Wan’ge on a summer day in the wuchen year [1988]. [Seal]: Weng Wan’ge cang

唐人 《靈飛經》 真跡,四十三行。翁萬戈戊辰夏日 [印]: 翁萬戈藏

Title strips

Unidentified artist, 1 column in seal script, undated:

宇内小楷第一。

Unidentified artist, 1 column in clerical script, undated:

《靈飛》 真跡。

Unidentified artist, 1 column in semi-cursive script, undated:

《靈飛》 墨跡,共四十三行,計五頁,又題跋四頁。

Unidentified artist, 1 column in semi-cursive script, undated:

董文敏書致隅陽公索墨蹟 《靈飛經》、《蓮華經》,共三頁。

Table of contents

Wu Yushan 吳餘山 (late 18th c. –early 19th c.), 7 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1810:

《靈飛經》 剩本乃此道起,共四十三行,五頁:紫芝老人跋五行一頁,魯直居士跋八行一頁,陳文簡公[陳元龍]跋七行二頁,陳文勤公[陳世倌]跋十四行二頁,董文敏索經札廿一行三頁。庚午七月初七日餘山記。

Colophons

1. Dong Qichang 董其昌 (1555–1636), 21 columns in semi-cursive script, undated:

山居懶病,尚阻奉覿,時許台履於張將軍以爲慰耳。交態悠悠,轉眄百變,具如翁兄之與張將軍父子再無猶初盟,四十年如一日者,海内寥寥,古人之美,不足以冀也。嘆服,嘆服。舊冬曾以贖經與卷事,請於翁兄,未見報章而得。長公手教似有難色,此於翰墨場中間獨為嗜者,但當年奉翁兄之下,徴□以刻石,布施頗費,臨摹非留在高壘,則校對不便,是以朱提為質,具有成言,取贖之時,不問子錢,周十丈所悉非質庫之常也。若如米海岳卷,原已割愛,不敢復請,自去自來,梁上燕矣。恐違仁丈之意,敬此奉復,惟台炤之匡。名正具,左沖。

2. Zizhi Laoren 紫芝老人 (unidentified), 5 columns in standard script, undated; 1 seal:

[鍾]越公進中書令薛稷有言:“紹京出自胥徒,超居元宰,恐失聖朝具瞻之美。”按此則知唐世書學洋溢朝野,不必盡瀛洲選也。然越公佐平内難,光輔明皇,亦不在薛參知後矣。紫芝老人題。 [印]:靜思室

3. Luzhi Jushi 魯直居士 (unidentified), 8 columns in standard script, dated 1632:

神廟庚戌[1610]董玄宰出所書 《法華經》 七卷來質,是時每卷議值百金,而虞先君有難色,乃以 《靈飛》 一卷輔之。越十六年,董公郎忽索 《法華》,而 《法華》 正在入石,不便遽返,奈往復不巳,先君遂將 《靈飛》 抵 《法華》,貼價以塞其意,小子伸請留數行,使異日知和會公案。及戊辰[1628]遇玄宰蕭寺,問 《靈飛》 無恙,則又作王、謝家燕矣,嗟哉!神物不久為耳目玩乎?雖然其全卷已勒貞珉,鍾令公精神尚可想見,未必奪我解衣珠也。崇禎壬申嵗清和日魯直居士識。

4. Chen Yuanlong 陳元龍 (1652–1736), 7 columns in standard script, dated 1734; 3 seals:

吾從祖增城公善書好古,賞鑑極精,此鍾紹京 《靈飛經》 一卷,從董宗伯得之,摹勒上石,寳藏旋歸趙璧,而經文後行,此道四段共四十三行,尚留吾家。伯父魯直公詳識之,雖全經不可復見,而唐人小楷真蹟,吉光片羽,皆神物也。今為煥若姪孫世守勿替,歸老暇日摹眼借觀,附識於末。雍正甲寅八月二日八十三老人乾齋書。 [印]: 八十三翁、元龍乾齋、林央

5. Chen Shiguan 陳世倌 (1680–1758), 14 columns in standard script, dated 1749; 2 seals:

余幼時見曾伯祖增城公所刻 《藏真帖》,以鍾越公 《靈飛經》 弁首,竊愛其楷法謹嚴如端人正士,對之生敬。丙午[1726]冬自京師歸,於小阮煥若案頭得見真蹟四十三行。甲子[1744]歸,復見之,皆但喜其遒勁無懈筆。今夏歸里,閑居無事,從容展玩,則見其嚴謹之中復饒宕逸之態,正如唐太宗之謂鄭公“但覺其娬媚”,乃嘆前此所見之,尚屬皮毛耳。煥若索題辭之不獲,聊誌數語歸之,是何異夏蟲之語冰也夫。乾隆己巳九月望日蓮宇居士世倌漫題,時年七十。 [印]: 世倌私印、蓮宇居士

6. Wu Qian 吳騫 (1733–1813), 7 columns in clerical script, dated 1805; 3 seals:

唐宮六甲佩真符,四十三行世更無。
辟得鍾離僊子筆,好參朱鳳見元都。
元都,玉真公主賜號。
嘉慶乙丑冬至日得觀玉箴主人藏 《靈飛》 真蹟剩本,謹題半格。吳騫 [印]:吳、槎客、萬雪庵

7. Weng Xincun 翁心存 (1791–1862), 29 columns in semi-cursive script, undated:

《靈飛經》 四十三行墨蹟在 “上清瓊宮陰陽通真祕符” 之前,即海昌陳氏 《藏真帖》 祖本,其最後十二行即[此字點去]是 《藏真》之所闕也。按 《靈飛經》 為唐開元廿六年[644]玉真長公主奉敕寫,元袁清容[桷]始定為鍾紹京書,其說蓋本 “思陵於經生書不收入內府” 一語,然亦未能斷定為鍾書也。明萬歷三十五年[1607]冬董思翁得之吴用卿[繼勛]家,後思翁寫 《蓮華經》 必展閱一過,珍如球璧。庚戌[1610]歲思翁出所寫《蓮華》七卷,質于太常卿陳公增城所,每卷議值百金,而虞太常有難色,乃以 《靈飛》 一卷輔之。越十六年,思翁遣其子持金來索《蓮華》甚急,而陳氏正在勒石,不便遽反,往復不已。太常之子湖廣參政名之伸者,遂將 《靈飛》 抵 《蓮華》,以塞其意。參政私將 《靈飛》割留四十三行藏于家,意作“雷煥留劍”公案,而思翁竟未檢及也。至戊辰[1628]歲,參政遇思翁於西湖昭慶寺,問《靈飛》無恙否?則已作王、謝家燕矣。自此四十三行藏于陳氏,傳至體齋中丞名用敷者,亦能世守。吾鄉秦味經司寇素聞 《靈飛》 名,從中丞借觀,中丞故為司寇門生,不得已乃贈之。司寇既得,祕不示人,歿後,其子靜軒太史稍稍誇于人間。中丞任安徽布政時,偶過錫山,以計賺歸,仍為陳氏所有,真藝林佳話也。余老友陳無軒[焯]學博曾載入 《寓賞編》,與余備述甚詳。是細麻紙本,甚完好,都四十三行,計六百八十五字。較諸全本,雖僅吉光片羽,而與石本對勘,則結體用筆毫髮不爽,至於精神奕奕,自在游行,又非石本所能幾及也。余年來奔走衣食,以不獲一見為恨,後見曾氏[恆德] 《滋蕙堂帖》,乃知即從 《藏真》 翻刻,故亦缺此十二行,並作趙松雪偽跋於後,則較 《藏真》 有霄壤之隔別矣。余前年冬在邗江[此字點去]上,知為吴餘山文學所購,今中書舍人謝君若農[恭铭]借以上石。嘉慶辛未[1811]十月廿日過楓涇鎮,始觀于若農齋中。摩挲石刻幾三十年,一朝得見真蹟,喜不自勝。他日尚擬從餘山再乞一觀,僅模此十二行以補陳、曾兩家之闕,不亦大快事耶!錢梅溪泳 《履園叢話》 一則。

8. Weng Tonghe 翁同龢 (1830–1904), 2 columns in standard script, undated:

This [preceding colophon] is my father's hand-writing. It should be mounted in the album as an epilogue to the other colophons. Respectfully noted by the sixth son, Tonghe.

此先公手蹟,宜裝入冊,以當跋尾。第六男同龢謹記。

9. Weng Tonghe 翁同龢 (1830–1904), 14 columns in standard script, dated 1894; 1 seal:

昔我先君子於道光乙末[1835]之嵗典浙江試,有故人謝蘭生者,金圃先生[謝墉]之後也,持此 《六甲經》,侑以宋槧蔡節《論語集說》、祝京兆書 《佛圖澄傳》 質銀五百兩。先君子歸養,謝君時時來請貼價,與當日蕫、陳事極相類也。先君子孤介無所好,惟此冊常以自隨。咸豐庚申[1860]鑾輿出狩,先君子致政巳久,避地房山,同龢挾此与宋本書不忍釋,先君子曰:“以畀汝,它日子姓有登甲科者,汝亦畀之。”迨兄子曾源登第不及畀而卒,曾源之子斌孫登第,余又因循,終未予之,盖慎鑿楹重手澤也。今者倭奴犯順,畿畺震驚,大愳倉卒填溝壑,乃付斌孫收藏,而識其緣起如此。嗚呼!後之人其能終守此也?否耶?光緒二十年十月初五夜亥初同龢謹記。[印]: 翁同龢印

10. Weng Tonghe 翁同龢 (1830–1904), 3 columns in standard script, undated; 1 seal:

憶周容齋丈云:“此四十三行外,尚有十餘葉在嘉善鄉里人某姓家。”東南兵燹,無從物色矣。又近人陳自元《庸閒齋筆記》載此頗詳。 [印]: 龢

11. Weng Tonghe 翁同龢 (1830–1904), 9 columns in standard script, dated 1903; 2 seals:

自甲午[1894]冬以此經手授斌孫後,越五年戊戌[1898],余獲罪放歸。是嵗斌孫亦丁承重憂,伏處里門,楚囚相對,不復問筆墨事矣。今斌孫赴闕,余則病臥山中。念此生恐難再覯,因開篋,率子姓敬觀,復書數字以記歲月。光緒癸卯三月松禪老人同龢 [印]: 松禪老人、龢

12. Weng Tonghe 翁同龢 (1830–1904), 16 columns in standard script, datable to 1900; 2 seals:

庚子[1900]五月京師拳匪事起,七月洋兵入城。聖駕奉慈輿西狩,而都中圖書金石掃地盡矣。此經以携還江南,免於劫火,豈非厚幸。然士大夫立身不能濟天下之變,徒以苟免為幸,亦可耻矣。漫賦一詩,次槎客[吳騫]韻:

狐鳴篝火眩妖符,巨石風刀事有無。
敢道過江衣褶在,烽煙澒洞滿皇都。

邑子趙仲簡以微秩在嘉興,識其鄉人郭君以壎其家有 《靈飛經》 半本,趙君親見之,惟起訖不能詳,最後符書細字未全也,延津合否不能豫料。姑識之。 [印]: 叔平、翁同龢印

13. Weng Tonghe 翁同龢 (1830–1904), 16 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 1 seal:

承許刻石,已延僧起懺迴,而今奉覽止嘗百容弟可取仍得免,且為感。紹京卷與[宇?]内所希,其字過一萬,行書十不抵真書一。弟所得之,吳生二百五十金才可十之二估耳。若兄翁欲收藏,即直寘之,不則亦以為質。老眼不能再臨此書,如孫不如子,在兄自可為子,深可慨也!幸裁之。《蓮經》尚有訛遺,即日補來,不過數紙,已識之矣。
向有八行附,永嘉黃翁以李北海跡奉覽,此碑實奇絕,弟已摹刻一通矣。念兄翁帖中,惟北海 《牡丹詩》 未真,此石可易,即以奉摹何如?弟更欲刻鍾紹京正書,配北海帖,仍屬吳生雙鈎,今以唐麻 《蘭亭》 易出。《蘭亭》 有元文宗璽及宋景濂跋,跋在《景濓集》中,亦希世之寳也。長夏消暑,意嘗不惡。五月中,弟至西湖送周使君,能一出,晤於孤山放鶴處否?
兩札從董尺牘中錄出,皆與此經有關涉者也。 [印]: [肖形印]

Collectors' seals

Xiang Yuanbian 項元汴 (1525–1590)
Molin 墨林
Zijing fu yin 子京父印

Qin Huitian 秦蕙田(1702–1764)
Huaihai 淮海
Jiangbiao (twice) 江表
Qin Huitian Weijing shi 秦蕙田味經氏
Weijing shending zhenji 味經審定真蹟
Jingui Qing Huitian Weijing shi tushu 金匱秦蕙田味經氏圖書
Huaihai Qin sheng 淮海秦生
Huitian zhi yin 蕙田之印
Weijing Caolu 味經草廬

Wu Yushan吳餘山 (late 18th c. –early 19th c.)
Yushan zhenmi 餘山珍祕
Mingxin juepin 銘心絕品

Weng Wan’ge 翁萬戈 (Wan-go Weng, born 1919)
Weng Wan’ge jianshang (twice) 翁萬戈鑑賞

Unidentified
Yutang qingxia 玉堂清暇
Taisheng 太生
Pingshu 平樹
Lun Dazang Jing 輪大藏經(半圓印)
Baokai Zhai (twice) 寳楷齋
Baokai Zhan yin 寳楷齋印

Illegible: 2
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The New Chinese Galleries: An Inaugural Installation," 1997.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Traditional Scholarly Values at the End of the Qing Dynasty: The Collection of Weng Tonghe (1830–1904)," June 30, 1998–January 3, 1999.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Embodied Image: Chinese Calligraphy from the John B. Elliott Collection," September 15, 2000–January 7, 2001.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Douglas Dillon Legacy: Chinese Painting for the Metropolitan Museum," March 12, 2004–August 8, 2004.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Brush and Ink: The Chinese Art of Writing," September 2, 2006–January 21, 2007.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Anatomy of a Masterpiece: How to Read Chinese Paintings," March 1, 2008–August 10, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Printed Image in China: From the 8th to the 21st Centuries," May 5, 2012–July 29, 2012.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the Metropolitan Collection I," October 31, 2015–October 11, 2016.

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