CHP-096-Wang Xizhi

0023ae9af0dc0c523a8d1dThis episode we look at Wang Xizhi, a man of letters who achieved greatness during the Eastern Jin dynasty and is called China’s greatest calligrapher.  His life and achievements will be explored along with the significance of calligraphy in Chinese culture.  We’ll also recall those crazy times in the fourth century AD.

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  • Wang Xizhi 王羲之 China’s greatest and certainly most famous calligrapher
  • Western Jin Dynasty 265-318 西晋
  • Eastern Jin Dynasty 317-420 东晋
  • Jin Dyansty 金代 Dynasty created by Jurchens in the north, ran alongside the Southern Song
  • Sima Yan 司马炎 Founder of Jin Dynasty (Jin Wudi)
  • Luoyang 洛阳 Located in Henan, capital for several dynasties including Western Jin
  • Jiankang 建康 Present day Nanjing
  • Liu Yu 刘裕 Founder of the Liu Song dynasty
  • Sima Yi 司马懿 General and official of Cao Wei state. Grandfather of Sima Yan
  • Cao Wei 曹魏 Northern state during the Three Kingdoms period
  • Emperor Min 晋敏帝 Last emperor of the Western Jin who lived a tragic and pitiful ending
  • Han Zhao 汉赵 State during the Northen Kingdoms
  • Sima Rui 司马瑞 First emperor of Eastern Jin, Jin Yuandi
  • Jin Yuandi 晋元帝 First emperor of Eastern Jin
  • Xiongnu 匈奴 “Barbarian” northern nomadic people who fought on and off for millennia with the Han Chinese
  • Hakka (Kejia) 客家人 The Hakka People (Guest People)
  • Cai Lun 蔡伦 Inventor of paper making process
  • The Four Treasures 文房四宝 The four essentials of any aristocrats desk.
  • bi, mo, zhi, yan 笔墨纸砚 Brush, Ink, Paper, Ink Stone
  • Shaoxing 绍兴 Birthplace of Wang Xizhi (and many others in history), halfway between Ningbo and Hangzhou
  • Zhejiang 浙江 Rich province in China where Ningbo, Hangzhou, Shaoxing are located
  • Wei Shuo 衛鑠 Madam Wei, Lady Wei, tutor to Wang Xizhi
  • Zhong You (Zhong Yao) 钟繇 Greatest calligrapher up to the time of the 4th century
  • Cai Yong 蔡邕 Eastern Han calligrapher
  • Li Si 李斯 Prime minister during time of Qin Shihuang, credited with standardizing the small seal script
  • Jiaguwen 甲骨文 The earliest Chinese writing carved in bones and shells
  • Yongzi Bafa 永字八法 The Eight Principles of Yong
  • Bi Zhen Tu 笔阵图 Lady Wei’s Illustrated Formation of the Writing Brush
  • Wang Xianzhi 王献之 Son of Wang Xizhi, also a great calligrapher
  • Li Shimin 李世民 Co-founder with his father Li Yuan, of the Tang Dynasty, went on to reign as the Taizong emperor
  • Tang Taizong 太宗帝 The Taizong emperor and charter member of the Wang Xizhi Fan Club
  • Lantingji Xu 兰亭集序 The Preface to the Collection of Orchid Pavilion Poems
  • Shu Sheng 书圣 The Sage of Calligraphy


Wang Xizhi’s signature work, the Preface to the Collected Poems of the Orchid Pavilion, The 兰亭集序 composed in 353 AD.



  • 3 years ago, we have a book which said “Yongzi Bafa” is originally from Japan, this become big problem, and Zhejiang Press & Publish Bureau stop this title from printing by GB finally– actually, this is surely from China;

    BTW, Shaoxing is a nice city which worth a trip, especially for the person who like you, if you haven`t been there, you must put this on your schedule!!

  • I look forward to you getting together with ray harris to do a the 100th episode especally as both of the podcasts are two of my favorite podcasts. So keep up the good work and hopefully I will here you next week from a rainey Cornwall, UK

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