Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain

Emperor Gaozong Chinese

Not on view

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.

Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain, Emperor Gaozong (Chinese, 1107–1187, r. 1127–1162), Fan mounted as album leaf; ink on silk, China

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