Exhibition on the epigraphic genius of He Shaoji
Inscriptions on stone surfaces during the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties provided a wealth of knowledge to scholars of subsequent dynasties.
Scholars have invented methods of rubbing to reproduce inscriptions on surfaces, turning three-dimensional inscriptions into two-dimensional marks on paper. Gradually, the methods developed into a branch of Chinese epigraphy, attracting endless streams of scholars.
During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the main official of the royal court He Shaoji (1799-1873) became known for his exceptional talent in calligraphy and epigraphy.
Today, an ongoing exhibition at the Zhejiang Art Museum features 150 pieces of his prominent works, giving people a full picture of the gifted man.
He was born into a literary family in Hunan Province and began to learn calligraphy as a child. At first, he imitated the regular and semi-cursive writing styles of master Yan Zhenqing (709-784) and later developed his own writing style.
He has visited Zhejiang province seven times. He was apprenticed to Ruan Yuan (1764-1849), then governor of Zhejiang province, and formed a deep friendship with monk Liuzhou (1791-1858) who lived in Jingci temple in Hangzhou and invented a rubbing technique. known as quanxingtuo (全 形 拓), a method of friction 3D.
The calligraphic works on display show his genius in handling strokes and character layout design and how he gradually turned away from Yan’s style to start building his own.
At the age of 24, he began to travel across China, in search of gemstone inscriptions. Finding Ruan in Hangzhou was a big step in his life. Under Ruan’s influence, he decided to reproduce ancient stone inscriptions and spent more than 40 years exploring the artistic field of epigraphy.
Rubbing was the only way for scholars to reproduce inscriptions. Making top notch prints required not only skill, but calligraphic talent as well. With the aim of researching rare rubs and engraved tablets of old masters, he traveled thousands of kilometers in three years and reproduced heaps of rubs.
His obsession with stone inscriptions gave impetus to the development of Chinese epigraphy, and his friendship with Ruan and Liuzhou improved epigraphic exchanges between the provinces of Zhejiang and Hunan.
At the end of the Qing era and the beginning of the Republic of China (1912-1949), when a myriad of artistic societies flourished across the country, a group of renowned epigraphers established the Xiling Seal Society in Hangzhou.
Subsequently, Xiling cultivated generations of epigraphs, ushering in a new era of Chinese epigraphy and making Hangzhou the center of modern epigraphy.
The exhibition aims to revive the old tradition among young people and to revive epigraphic exchanges between the provinces of Zhejiang and Hunan.
World Exhibition of the Art of He Shaoji
Date: Until February 20, 2022, closed on Mondays
Location: Zhejiang Art Museum
Address: 138 Nanshan Road