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Chinese Peasant Creates a 160m-long Calligraphy Work
A 230-fold Wan Shou Tu, a Chinese calligraphy work which contains 10,000 ways to write Chinese character shou (longevity), has surfaced in Fanzhi County, Shanxi Province. The scroll is 160-meter long and weighs 12 kilograms. It took Hou Jicai, a peasant, 16 years to finish it to the amazement of calligraphist circles.

Ren Jiyu, a famous Chinese philosopher, historiographer and the director of the National Library of China, happily wrote an inscription for the work after enjoying it.

Hou Jicai, 50, is versatile. He likes painting, calligraphy, seal cutting and mounting pictures. He is especially good at lishu, an ancient style of calligraphy current in the Han Dynasty some two millennia ago. Twenty years ago, when he traveled to a temple in Datong, Shanxi Province, he found a Bai Shou Tu, a Chinese traditional calligraphy work which contains one hundred ways to write shou in official script. He was pleasantly surprised by the great work. After precisely imitating it, he decided to create this Wan Shou Tu. Over the 16-year period, he collected and imitated all the shou characters no matter whether on sculptures, vessels, epigraphs or rubbings from stone inscription.

Gong Meifeng, Houís wife, was deeply moved by her husbandís experience of studying calligraphy and writing this work with great concentration. She said her husband was prepared to go through all the miseries and hardships for this great work. Every evening, after a long dayís toil in the fields, Hou had no time to rest, instead studying and writing late into the night, invariably forgoing food and sleep. Even he was extremely tired, he would continue his work after a brief halt to smoke a cigarette. From then, a long-term condition of periarthritis became liable to relapse.

Houís Wan Shou Tu is majestic and dainty. The 10,000 handwritings of shou are all different, but with the same flavor and tone. Thereís a greeting sentence in every 99 shou characters, and there are nine big shous in every 999 characters. Houís Wan Shou Tu used colorful Chinese ink and colorful rice paper and was nicely mounted. It is applauded by professional calligraphic artists.

Hou Jicai said he hopes his Wan Shou Tu will be cherished by some connoisseur, or be engraved on a cliff, or be carved on stele to allow more people enjoy it.

(china.org.cn by Chen Lin, September 6, 2002)

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