A Study of Weng Fanggang: Calligraphic Style and Collection Culture of Stele and Model-letters Rubbings in Qianlong and Jiaqing Periods
|關鍵字:||認知傳統;「一以貫之」;金石學;朱子學;經世致用;乾隆四家;“the conception tradition of calligraphy”;“one unifying principle”;bronze and stone study;statecraft;the Four Masters of the Qianlong reign||公開日期:||2011||摘要:|| 乾隆中期，隨着考證學漸興，學者書家以文字學、金石學等質樸紮實的研究根柢，回應受董其昌（1555–1636）、趙孟頫（1254–1322）末流的柔弱妍媚書風，重考據的書學鑒賞語言及篆隸等古代書體逐漸盛行於士子之中。從書學發展自運的角度看，至清代，刻帖等書學範本因輾轉翻刻而形神漸失，思想界追本溯源的重學思潮，促使學者書家們注意力轉向更真實反映文字演變及書學源流的碑刻上。至嘉慶年間出現阮元（1764–1849）〈南北書派論〉、〈北碑南帖論〉等反思王羲之以來帖學書風的書論。
During the mid-Qianlong period, accompanying with the rise of textural studies, scholar-calligraphers rooted in epigraphy and philology confronted the flattering and delicate calligraphic style after Dong Qichang (1555–1636) and Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322). Introduction of textural studies to connoisseurship of calligraphy, and the practice of ancient seal and clerical scripts then became popular among literati. Reviewing the development of calligraphy, in the Qing dynasty, rubbings of model-letters lost their form and spirit because of re-engraving. It induced scholar-calligraphers to turn their focus to steles on which the development of scripts and calligraphic styles authentically showed. In Jiaqing period, Ruan Yuan (1764–1849) wrote the two treatises on calligraphy, namely, “the South and North Schools of Calligraphy” (Nanbei Shupai Lun) and “the North Stele and South Model-letters Schools” (Beibei Nantie Lun) and rethought about the canonization of Wang Xizhi and model-letters school tradition. Thoughts and ideology trigger the change of climate of opinions, culture and calligraphic style. By tracing the development of calligraphy, the intersection of the rise of stele school calligraphy and the life span of Weng Fanggang (1733–1818), this study analyzes the interlocking dimensions including style, circle of friends, culture, conception and thoughts. The stele school evolved because scholar-calligraphers re-examined “the conception tradition of calligraphy”. It marked the third period of structural revolution of the history of calligraphy after the standardization of scripts and the evolution of style. It is worthy noticing that scholar who excelled in calligraphy and put into practice was the trigger point of the breakthrough of conception of calligraphy, and this was closely related to Weng’s Neo-Confucian beliefs. Weng’s research examples be quoted unweariedly in this study was to demonstrate that the change of perception and conception was brought about by repeating and long-term practices. Unlike the stele school theorists Ruan Yuan and Bao Shichen (1775–1855), Weng was the only epigraphy expert who continuously getting hands dirty in writing and copying calligraphy, visiting and making rubbings for steles, as well as scrupulously comparing different versions of rubbings. Hence, conception altered gradually in the process of practices. I have found that the rise of the stele school of calligraphy was due to a series of uninterrupted phenomena, including the introspection of Confucian classics of scholars, the collection and research of a great deal of rubbings of ancient steles, the revival of bronze and stone study, the awareness of new conception of ancient scripts among calligraphers, masters of clerical script rising in groups, the change of style of clerical calligraphy, and the publication of milestone-type calligraphic treatises. Eventually, the stele school of calligraphy gained recognition. During the course, Weng was the sole and leading scholar who linked every facet of the phenomena. He introduced the change of thoughts, connected important masters of clerical calligraphy and rubbings collectors, and pushed forward the fashion. The fallacy of epigraphy bringing the stele school was clarified in this study. Epigraphy, in fact, was merely one of the factors. In the Sung dynasty, there was the rise of epigraphy but few of the relevant scholars were recognized as calligraphers. However, Weng excelled in both. He learned calligraphy by copying rubbings of model-letters and steles. He focused on recording texts on steles and then turned to observe the development and relation of different scripts. Rubbings of steles treated as “model-letters”, and running and cursive scripts carved on steles were initiated by the change of conception and thoughts. Besides, Weng played an active role in rubbings study and collection, exchange of relevant poems in the circles of acquaintances that it created a new form of culture among social elites. It appeared even earlier than the treaties of the stele school written by Ruan and Bao. Weng and his friends built up the favourable circumstances for the growth of the stele school of calligraphy. The dissertation comprises four chapters. In Chapter 1, the conception of calligraphy in the beginning of the Qing dynasty is introduced. Weng Fanggang continued the revival of bronze and stone study. He thoroughly studied the principles of standard script for the loss of them after the Sung Dynasty. Meanwhile he copied calligraphy on steles to renew his perception of the development of calligraphy and clerical script. The formation of his acquaintances and the master status of Weng are clarified in Chapter 2. Weng linked calligraphy, poetry and statecraft with “one unifying principle” and transmitted his thoughts by the yearly commemoration of Su Shi’s birthday. He became the leading figure among scholar-officials and even influenced the “Xuannan Poetry Society”, a group of incorruptible social elites with achievements in their official career during Jiaqing and Daoguang periods. In the third chapter, I have discussed how Weng integrated calligraphy, scholarship and poetry with Confucian orthodoxy on the basis of “one unifying principle”. He left no stone unturned to execute Zhu Xi’s Teachings in the above mentioned domains. For calligraphy, Weng claimed that to follow obediently the calligraphic principles in copying ancient model-letters was a must. After that, one would be able to master and be free from the governing principles and create individual style. He also emphasized that calligraphy would help to cultivate one’s moral character. He emphasized the importance of understanding the principle by the study of things (gewu qiongli). Weng was regarded as the leader among the Four Masters of the Qianlong reign. It implied the great differences from the aesthetics of calligraphy of modern era that explicit personal styles and visual appeals are appreciated. In Chapter 4, I have analyzed A Record of Yuedong Bronzes and Steles (Yuedong jinshi lüe) and A Record of Han Bronzes and Steles (Liang Han jinshiji) to explain how Weng developed the language of studying scripts and style. Weng revised the misperception of Han clerical script among calligraphers till the early Qing dynasty. He was enabled to master the brush methods and structure on Han steles. It is worth mentioning that Weng’s thoughts were based on the relationship of two contradicting factors unified with one principle. It was evolved from The Book of Changes (Yi Jing). For instance he stated that “pure and ancient” (chungu) and “change” (bian), “my heart” (woxin) and “rule” (fa) are mutually restrictive but complementary to each other. Apart from distinguishing style and aesthetic of visual quality, calligraphy embodied profound cultural connotations. Weng was always in the dilemma of succeeding Confucian orthodoxy as self-realization or being an individualized calligrapher. Finally, it hopes that the attempt of this research will stimulate different points of view and ways of thinking, and achieve more precise and in-depth analysis and explanation of phenomena according to the uniqueness of Imperial China.
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