Xi’an Jiaotong University has a collection of “Epitaph of Tang Wang Tai”, unearthed in the suburbs of Xi’an in recent years, the full name is “Epitaph of Luo Wei County Ling Wang Fujun of the Former Capital of the Tang Dynasty”, the stone is 47.5 centimeters wide, 46.7 centimeters high, and 9.5 centimeters thick. Zhiwen has nineteen lines in length, 22 characters in full lines, arranged in boundary, with inscriptions, and the full text counts 383 characters, in letters. Although it is 1,263 years ago, the carving is fine, the words are clear, the boundaries are visible, and there is almost no diffusion. His calligraphy is beautiful and abundant, changing the style of calligraphy of the early Tang Qing dynasty, and his words are simple and quaint, which can be regarded as a fine epitaph of the Tang Dynasty, and has obtained new materials for the study of the transmutation of calligraphy art in the Tang Dynasty in China.
The following is a transcript:
The epitaph of Luo, the former capital of the Tang Dynasty, Ning County, was inscribed by the county prince
In the previous preface of the Burmese Jian, the Western Zhou Zuo Bo Yuanfu, the Xi clan, the surname of Dongyan Qi, and served the crown of Chengxuan, accompanied by Zhong Dinglie, and it is difficult to know the glory of the light. Gong Tai, the word reverence. First Taiyuan people, now Henan Fu people. Zu Shu was bright, born talented, and moved to the dynasty. Kao Qi, anti-zhi Yunxia, wandering indifferent, retreat without boredom, chaste and white. The public is young and tall, long known as Teda, virtue is a model, and when the strategy is enough, he can serve as a servant for the king. Starting from the left guard Yiyi Mansion Yiwei, or in and out of the trivial, the attendant is forbidden, the bandit is only armed, Bao Yiwencai, and the county order of Tebaituning County. When the Tao is in the good times, righteousness and goods, government nobles and simplicity, the law does not need to be troubled, the wind of getting the son is cheap, and the clear and the middle are decided. Russia and the end of the rank, raise the field. Knowing the time and the bandit for a long time, the disadvantage of realizing the glory, so he cleared his heart and released the door, looked up to Shuode, and forever broke the smoke, and grew up to be a heart fast, then only the second era. Pathos! Reading the river is easy to flow, love the scenery is difficult to stop, Tianbao eight years on April 13 finally Chongrenli’s private first, Jiazi seventy-eight. He was buried on the twenty-first day of May in Fengqiyuan, Xianning County, Liye. The second daughter of the gong, Chang Yu Bo, Shao Yu Ji, steaming filial piety, Luan shape has been destroyed, fearing the Linggu of Youyi, worrying about the emblem of Mo Ji, and Zhengshi is inscribed:
Uhlie Zu Xi Hongyin, the Yanxi of the Bang family. Yiliang Yuan Sheng is loyal and chaste, and the fan is benevolent and popular. The government is not harsh and thieves, and the virtuous and noble come. Miao Zhe people can be Xi for a long time, He Qionghao is not spared, Pain Sound Gu Xi Yongxi, Benfang Shixi, Tuhui.
Zhi Lord Wang Tai, character reverence, a native of Henan Province. His ancestral home is Taiyuan. Zu, official to Chaosan Daifu. His father Wang Jun, “resisting the Zhi Yunxia, wandering indifferently, retreating from generation without boredom, chaste and self-congratulating”, does not ask about common karma, and is indifferent and self-satisfied. In his early years, Zhi Lord himself served as Zuo Weiyi and Yifu Yiwei, as a bodyguard, and was on the eighth pin. Later Guan to Duning County Luo as the county order. Luo Wei County is an ethnic minority inhabited area, and the Zhi Lord serves as the county commander here, and the official is clean and honest, “the government is simple and simple, the law does not need to be troubled, the style of getting the son is cheap, and the Ming Zhong is decisive.” After unloading his armor and returning to the field, he cleared his heart and released the door, and relied on the Dharma for 20 years. Yu Tianbao eight years (749), finally Chang’an private Chongrenli, at the age of seventy-eight. After his death, he was buried in Fengqiyuan, located in the southern suburbs of present-day Xi’an. The Zhiwen is brief, and the life of the Zhi Lord is briefly described in a general style. Cha Tang Shuzhi is the owner of his own person.
From this, Fang Zhishi recorded that the Zhi Lord was appointed as the county order of Luo Wei County in Duning County, and examined the historical facts of Luo Wei County’s rise and fall in Zhengzhou and Jiao Prefecture in the Tang Dynasty. When the lord assumed the prefectural order of this place, it was the time of confrontation between Nazhou and the central government. This example can be further used as a supporting evidence of the Zhengzhou and Detention Prefecture lifting system in the Tang Detention System.
Looking at the calligraphy of the epitaph, the lines are rich, the dot painting is vigorous, and the charm is not lost, which changes the thin and healthy style of the early Tang Dynasty. The pen is mostly centered forward, and there is a clear pause in the start and end of the pen. The thickness of horizontal and vertical strokes is contrasting, and the weight of the virtual and real is richly changed. The lines are rich in rhythm and rhythmic beauty, the font shape is flattened in the square, and the positive atmosphere is full. The engraving is fine, clearly showing the flow of brush writing and the rhythm of pointillism. It has the typical characteristics of Tang Kai’s “Shangfa”.
This epitaph was inscribed during the Tang Tianbao period, at the height of the Tang Dynasty, when a generation of writing styles “sects changed, and the wind flowed”. Due to the development of social economy, the aesthetic style of calligraphy has opened up a new style, and the calligraphy style has changed from the early Tang Fang to the majestic and heavy, and famous calligraphers such as Zhang Xu, Huai Su, Xu Hao, and Yan Zhenqing have appeared. This Fang Zhi stone is consistent with the new style of Tang Dynasty calligraphy, with wide lettering, which is a rare piece of dot painting in Tang Dynasty epitaphs, and it is more neat and meticulous in writing, and the engraving is delicate, similar to the “Treasure Pagoda Stele” of Yan Zhenqing Shudan, which was engraved in the eleventh year of Tianbao (752). And this Fang Zhishi was buried in 749 AD, earlier than Yan Zhenqing’s book “Duo Bao Pagoda Stele”, then, the scholar obviously did not take the “Duo Bao Pagoda Stele”.
“Duo Bao Pagoda Stele” (partial)
(1) Derived from the scripture writing style
During the Sui and Tang dynasties, there were a large number of scripture writers, resulting in what descendants called the “Jingsheng”. According to the “Xuanhe Book Book”: When the masters of Jingsheng created “self-cultivation”, “thousands of words are always the same, without losing the number of lines”, “twists and turns, and the momentum of the pen is also meticulous.” Wouldn’t it be true to its intention and pen, and its special vision would be rigorous, and it could also be commended.” The style, characteristics and even procedures of “scripture writing” calligraphy were gradually established.
Watching the calligraphy of the Sui and Tang dynasties, its pointillism is clear, horizontal and vertical thick, multiton pen, and flat and square glyphs. The wrist force is even, meticulous, and the font is uniform throughout.
The calligraphy of “Wang Tai’s Epitaph”: the horizontal drawing is delicate, the vertical painting is thick and heavy, the stroke turning prescription is folded vigorously, the font shape is flattened in the square, dignified and stable, and the righteousness is full. It is in line with the writing of scripture during this period. For example, Tang Zhenguan’s “Law of Good Insight” in the twenty-second year (648), the “Myoho-renge-kyo” in the second year of Tang Gaozong’s Xianheng (671), and the “Great Nirvana Sutra Book of Rulai Sexual Goods No. 7” in the second year of Tang Jinglong (708).
According to Zhu Guantian’s “History of Chinese Calligraphy, Tang Dynasty Volumes”, “And since the Southern Dynasty, Zhiming calligraphy has been written more recently than scripture and copied books…” Comparing this epitaph with the calligraphy works of scripture writing, it can be clearly seen that the writing is rigorous and dense, and there is no slack pen, and the thickness of horizontal and vertical strokes is contrasting when writing, and there are obvious pauses in the beginning and closing of the dot painting. At the turning stroke, shrug the brush with the brush and shrug the frustrated method. The strokes of “Wang Tai’s Epitaph” are also distinct, which is the same as the flow and pointillism rhythm of the method of writing scriptures, rich in rhythm and rhythmic beauty.
(2) The style of the times
“As soon as the epitaph calligraphy entered the Gaozong Dynasty, it gradually became popular, and during the Wu Zhou Chang’an period, it became particularly smooth, with a new style of the Tang generation, integrated into it, showing vigor and broadness, and it was already a Chinese resource, and it was completely free from the legacy of Chen Sui.” Song Ren Mi Fu’s “Haiyue Famous Sayings” said: “Since the beginning of the New Century, the Yuan Ming Emperor character is fat, and there has been Xu Hao, which is in line with the favor of the Jun of the time, and the Jing Sheng character has also been fat since then, and the ancient qi has not been restored before the beginning of the New Century.” Zhong Mingshan also pointed out in his “History of Chinese Calligraphy” that the novelty of Sheng Tang calligraphy is not only the emergence of a large number of calligraphers with the spirit of the times and strong personality, but also a large number of broad and majestic calligraphy works.
Therefore, this side of epitaph calligraphy inherits the writing characteristics of the Sui and Tang scriptures, but this type of calligraphy style is by no means spontaneous, but the product of the changing fashion of the times. Different from the strict and handsome style of the early Tang Dynasty epitaph, “Wang Tai’s epitaph” is characterized by its full, square, respectful and sincere artistic characteristics under the style of the times. From this, it can also be seen that the appearance of Yan Zhenqing’s “Duo Bao Pagoda”, which is close to the epitaph, is by no means a one-person innovation, but has a very deep social foundation. The discovery of this Fang Zhi stone will also become an important source for the transmutation of calligraphy styles from the early to middle Tang dynasties.
In addition, the epitaph has begun to take on the typical characteristics of Tang Kai’s “Shangfa” in terms of structure, tight structure, tight central palace, and restrained spirit. The small parts of the knot are arranged flexibly, and the size is different, which is quite flexible. More importantly, as a stele inscription, the writing details are fully displayed, and the brushwork ink marks when it was written can be traced from the knife carving, which can be used as a model for copying and learning.