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Chinese Literature
Shuyuan jinghua 書苑菁華 "Splendour of the Calligraphy Garden"


The Shuyuan jinghua 書苑菁華 "Splendour of the calligraphy garden" is a book on calligraphy written by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Chen Si陳思 who lived in Lin'an 臨安 (modern Hangzhou 杭州, Zhejiang) the capital of the Southern Song 南宋 (1127-1279), during the reign of Emperor Lizong 宋理宗 (r. 1224-1264). He was a secretary in the library of the Veritable Records Institute of the Dynastic History (guoshi shilu yuan 國史實錄院) and has also written the books Shuxiaoshi 書小史 and Baoke congbian 寶刻叢編.
The 29 juan "scrolls" long Shuyuan jinghua was written as a kind of sequel to Zhu Changwen's 朱長文 book Mochibian 墨池編 and includes 160 chapters on the theory of calligraphy from oldest times to the Song period. The arrangement of the Shuyuan jinghua has been rate das too complex because the titles of the many chapters does not always make clear the differences of the topics discussed, be it general issues of calligraphy (like Shufa 書法 "The standards of calligraphy", Shushi 書勢 "The shape of calligraphy", Shuzhuang 書狀 "The appearance of calligraphy", Shuti 書體 "The body of calligraphy" or Shuzhi 書旨 "The incentives of calligraphy"), critique on certain styles (like Shuping 書評 "Critique of calligraphy" or Shuyi 書議 "Discussion on calligraphy") or the method how to calligraphy different literary styles (like in the chapters Shupu 書譜 "Writing notes", Shuming 書名 "Writing names" (or 銘 "inscriptions"?), Shufu 書賦 "Writing rhapsodies", Shulun 書論 "Writing treatises", Shuji 書記 "Writing records" or Shubiao 書表 "Writing memorials"). Chen Si also refrains from including quotations from books of doubtful origin like Zhang Yanyuan's 張彥遠 Fashu yaolu 法書要錄, that is an important work on calligraphy. He also quotes wrongly from Zhu Changwen's Mochibian.
The Shuyuan jinghua is nevertheless of great importance because of its theoretical content, and because it provides some sentences of the Fashu yaolu and Mochibian that differ from those of the received versions of these books.


Source: Wang Yuchi 王玉池 (1989). "Shuyuan jinghua 書苑菁華", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Meishu 美術, vol. 2, p. 737. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.

Chinese literature according to the four-category system

August 24, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail