Leaving the Capital

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Leaving the Capital (離都帖)

Cai Xiang (蔡襄, 1012-1067), Song Dynasty (960-1279)

Album leaf, ink on paper, 29.2 x 46.8 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei

       This letter to Gentleman Du was written by Cai Xiang in a period of mourning for the loss of his eldest son (1055), but for the most part Cai still maintains his poise of vigor and beauty in calligraphy. Nonetheless, a few strokes of the brush still reveal fluctuations of emotion that transmit the pain that he must have felt as he was writing. The brushwork here is rounded and solid, while also flowing and wandering, thus revealing Cai Xiang's complete success in traditional calligraphic studies. In the flowing grace of the brush movement in the few characters, the forms and structure are enchanting, while the generous spacing of the character structure and the hook method here conform to that of Yan Zhenqing (顏真卿, 709-785).

釋文:襄啟。自離都至南京。長子勻感傷寒七日。遂不起此疾。南歸殊為榮幸。不意災禍如此。動息感念。哀痛何可言也。承示及書。并永平信。益用悽 惻。旦夕渡江。不及相見。依詠之極。謹奉手啟為謝。不一一。襄頓首。杜君長官足下。七月十三日。貴眷各佳安。老兒已下無恙。永平已曾於遞中。馳信報之。

Cai Xiang: Leaving the Capital (Lidu Tie)