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Article Title

Wang Xizhi and Sichuan

Abstract

In the history of Chinese calligraphy, Wang Xizhi (王羲之) was one of the most well-known calligraphers in China and was traditionally referred to as the Sage of Calligraphy. Together with another great calligrapher, Zhong Yao (钟繇), they were referred to as “Zhong Wang.” Wang Xizhi and his son Wang Xianzhi (王献之)were called the “Two Wangs” (two icons) of calligraphy. Wang Xizhi never visited the Bashu region in his life, but there are some traces of the area of Shu (蜀, in present-day Sichuan province) in the Shiqi Tie (十七帖, Seventeen Exemplars), which is one of the masterpieces of Wang Xizhi’s cursive scripts. The focus of this paper is not on the art of calligraphy in Shiqi Tie, but rather on the relationship between Wang Xizhi and Sichuan through his correspondence with Zhou Fu (周抚), the prefectural governor of Yizhou at the time. Why was Wang Xizhi so interested in Sichuan historical figures such as Yan Junping (严君平), Sima Xiangru (司马相如), Yang Ziyun (扬子云) (also known as Yang Xiong, [扬雄]) and Qiao Zhou (谯周)? Why did he pay so much attention to the cities and towns of Chengdu in the Qin Dynasty (221–207 BC), the schools of the Han Dynasty (202 BC–AD 220) in the area of Shu, the murals of the Han Dynasty, salt wells in Sichuan, as well as other sceneries and historical sites in Shu? Why was he so eager to visit Shu and considered “climbing Wenling (Min Mountains) and Emei Mountain” as a monumental event? These are the questions this paper intends to explore. This is by far the most comprehensive and detailed article on Wang Xizhi’s relationship with Sichuan. In particular, his calligraphic works about significant historical figures, names of places, and heritage sites in Sichuan are very precious, such as Chengdu city (Chengdu, 成都), Shu County (Shujun, 蜀郡), Emei (峨眉), Yang Xiong, Sima Xiangru, ancient gas well (huojing, 火井). These are authentic calligraphy about Sichuan by famous artists that have been handed down to today and which are considered national treasures and a treasure trove of art for establishing Sichuan’s cultural brands and mining its cultural resources.

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