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Emperor adapts style of calligraphy master Dong

THE Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) Emperor Kangxi was one of the outstanding statesmen in Chinese ancient history. He was not only adept at ruling the country, but also had great interest in Chinese culture, especially calligraphy.

Kangxi's most favorite calligraphy master was Dong Qichang, a Shanghai native, and he focused his calligraphy learning on Dong's writing style. Thanks partly to Kangxi's great patronage, Dong enjoys celebrated status in calligraphy history.

A calligraphy relic by Kangxi displayed in the Shanghai Museum (pictured left) is the emperor's copy of Dong's work.

The piece features a poem written by Han Yi, a poet from the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).

The poem says: "Moon in the mountains shines brilliantly like daytime; bamboos are slightly shaking by chilly wind; birds were startled during their naps in the midnight and I was sleeping alone in front of the window."

The poem's title is "Qiu Zhai," meaning "Study Room in the Autumn."

Though he couldn't quite capture all of the spirit of Dong's work, Kangxi was an able student, replicating the style well with soft strokes and an elegant spirit that has been judged good enough for an amateur.

Emperor Kangxi was rather proud of his calligraphy and often sent his work as gifts to ministers, chancellors and visiting diplomats from other countries.


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