Cai Xiang - Song Dynasty

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       Cai Xiang (蔡襄, 1012-1067) was a Chinese calligrapher, scholar, official and poet of the Song Dynasty. His courtesy name was Junmo (君謨) and posthumous name Zhonghui (忠惠).

       Cai was born in Xianyou (仙遊) County of Xinghua Prefecture (Now Xianyiu County in Putian City of Fujian Province). In the eighth year of Tiansheng (1030 AD), he obtained the degree of Jinshi (presented scholar,進士 ). His highest rank was Duanmingdian Xueshi (Secretariat Drafter of Duanming Court, 端明殿學士
) in charge of written communications of the imperial government.

       Cai Xiang was once the Officer of Transportation (Zhuanyunshi) in Fujian. While acting as a prefect in Fujian, he was also in charge of overseeing the construction of the Wan’an Bridge at Quanzhou. Upon the completion of the bridge, he wrote a report which became one of his most renowned calligraphy artworks - Wan'an Bridge Tablet.

       Cai pioneered the manufacturing of Small Dragon Tribute Tea Cake (小龍團茶) of superlative quality, as it was reputed to be harder to obtain than gold. He also wrote the famous “Tea Note (茶錄)” between 1049 and 1053.

       Cai Xiang’s calligraphy was highly praised by Su Shi (蘇軾) as “the best of the era.” It is argued by some people that he is regarded as one of the top four calligraphers of the Song Dynasty (“Su, Huang, Mi, Cai”). Other people believe “Cai” refers to Cai Jing (蔡京).

Masterpieces by Cai Xiang (view the entire calligraphy gallery)