Excerpt from “Song of Leyou Park”, Zhang Jizhi (Chinese, 1186–1266), Section of a handscroll mounted as a hanging scroll; ink on paper, China

南宋 張即之 行書杜甫樂遊原詩殘卷 軸
Excerpt from “Song of Leyou Park”

Zhang Jizhi (Chinese, 1186–1266)
Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279)
Section of a handscroll mounted as a hanging scroll; ink on paper
Image: 12 3/4 x 30 1/4 in. (32.4 x 76.8 cm)
Overall with mounting: 48 1/2 x 35 1/2 in. (123.2 x 90.2 cm)
Overall with knobs: 48 1/2 x 37 1/2 in. (123.2 x 95.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Sylvan Barnet and William Burto, in honor of Tajima Mitsuru, 2000
Accession Number:
Not on view
Zhang Jizhi, the last important calligrapher of the Song period, was a devout Buddhist who often transcribed religious texts as an act of devotion. He obtained his jinshi degree, the highest rank in the civil service examination, but never rose to high office. As a calligrapher, however, his fame spread beyond the borders of the Song to the Jin empire in northern China as well as to Japan, where his handwriting was particularly prized by Zen monks. Zhang was noted for his forceful large-character standard script, with its boldly contrasting blunt and sinuous brushstrokes. This piece, remounted centuries ago in Japan for display in a tokonoma, was cut from a long handscroll transcribing a poem by Du Fu (712–770) in such a manner that the poetic phrasing of the original is completely fragmented. The original two couplets may be translated as follows (the text of this scroll is on the fourth and fifth lines):

Heavenly gates open in clear skies,
ripples vastly trembling;
By the Serpentine, kingfisher curtains
hang arrayed with silver plaques.
Brushing the water, hovering,
dancing sleeves flutter;
Climbing to the clouds, crisp and clear,
the sounds of songs arise.

(Translated by Jonathan Chaves)
Inscription: Artist’s inscription (4 columns in large semi-cursive/standard script)

[By the Serpentine are] kingfisher curtains arrayed with silver plaques.
Skimming the water, back and forth, [the dancers’ sleeves flutter.][1]

拂水低佪….. [2]

[1] Translation from Maxwell K. Hearn, MMA Bulletin: Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2000-2001. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 59, no. 2, p. 77.
[2] The complete lines read, “曲江翠幕排银牓。拂水低徊舞袖翻”.
Sylvan Barnet and William Burto , Cambridge, MA (until 2000; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The New Chinese Galleries: An Inaugural Installation," 1997.

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 Written Image: Japanese Calligraphy and Paintings from the Sylvan Barnet and William Burto Collection," October 1, 2002–March 2, 2003.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art of the Brush: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy," March 12, 2005–August 14, 2005.

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

Shanghai Museum. "Masterpieces of Chinese Tang, Song and Yuan Paintings from America," November 3, 2012–January 3, 2013.