Top 10 calligraphy masterpieces of ancient China

By Xu Lin
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 Odes to the Red Cliff(《前后赤壁赋》)

Odes to the Red Cliff, one of the 'top 10 calligraphy masterpieces of ancient China' by

Odes to the Red Cliff

The "Odes to the Red Cliff" was written by Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322), a prince and descendant of the Song Dynasty, as well as a famous scholar, painter and calligrapher during the Yuan Dynasty.

The poetry was originally created by Su Shi (1037–1101), a famous writer, poet, artist and calligrapher in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), during his exile to Huangzhou in 1082, to commemorate his two trips to the Red Nose Cliff.

Zhao rejected the gentle brushstrokes of his era, in favor of the cruder style of the Jin and Tang dynasties. His Regular Script is considered one of the top four in the Chinese history. The other three Regular Script masters are Yan Zhenqing, Liu Gongquan, and Ouyang Xun.

The work, 11.1 x 27.2 cm, is a paperbound version, consisting of 935 characters in 81 lines on 21 pages. The writing is beautiful and elegant, showing the style of Wei and Jin dynasties. Zhao completed the work in running script in 1301. It is now exhibited in the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

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