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Illustrations to the poem “Qi yue” 七月, attributed to Ma Hezhi 馬和之 (1130-1170) Colophon 3

Illustrations to the poem “Qi yue” 七月 (The Seventh Month) in the “Bin feng” 豳風 (Airs of Bin) section of the Shijing 詩經 (Book of Songs), attributed to Ma Hezhi 馬和之 (1130-1170)

Picture credit: The Freer Gallery (https://asia.si.edu/object/F1919.172/)


Note:

The Freer Gallery of Art has provided full translations with very helpful annotations for all inscriptions and colophons. The translation of Zhang Xigeng’s 張錫庚 (d. 1861) colophon below is an attempt to offer alternative interpretations of some passages, and footnotes are kept to a minimum. Readers who are interested to learn more about the significance of the technical terms and historical figures mentioned in this text may consult the document offered by the Freer Gallery of Art at https://asia.si.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/F1919-172_Documentation.pdf.


Colophon 3


右宋馬和之《豳風•七月篇》八圖水墨畫。和之畫師吳道元,善用掣筆。此啚筆意清掣,氣韻生動,衣摺和暢,有流水行雲之妙。草樹飄逸,有迴風舞雪之觀。雖精工不及龍眠,而於野田蕭疎之景、農家作苦之勤,情景畢具,理趣無涯。

On the right are eight images in ink by Ma Hezhi of the Song, illustrating the poem “Seventh Month” in the “Airs of Bin”. [Ma] Hezhi took Wu Daoyuan [ca. 685-758] [1] as his master in painting and had a good hand at “trembling brushwork”. This handscroll, with clear brushwork, lively atmosphere and fluid draperies, is as marvellous as flowing water and drifting clouds. The vegetation and trees with ethereal grace are as spectacular as swirling wind and dancing snow. Although [Ma Hezhi] is not comparable to Longmian [2] in terms of delicate artistry, in his representation of the bleak scenery in the wild field and the farmers’ diligence in working, emotions and scenes are all aptly depicted, [showing] a boundless philosophical interest.


昔思陵愛其畫,每書《毛詩》,虛其後,令和之為圖。此啚各段前均書經文數句,未知為思陵筆否。惟第二段乃繪三章“取彼斧斨,以伐遠揚”之義,而所書經文則首章末數句,與畫不洽,筆蹟亦與前後不同。想此條失去,經後人補書,未及細審耳。

Long ago, Siling [3] loved Ma Hezhi’s painting. Every time he copied Mao’s Songs, he left blank space after [the text] and asked [Ma] Hezhi to illustrate it. A few lines from the classic are inscribed before each section of this handscroll, but [I] do not know whether they are Siling’s calligraphy. The only [problem] is that the second section depicts the lines “Take that axe,/To lop off far [branches] and flying [twigs]” in the third stanza, whereas the inscribed texts are the last lines of the first stanza, which do not correspond to the image. The handwriting is also different from the rest. [I] suppose that this entry has been lost and simply added by some later person who did not have time to scrutinise it.


八幅鈐縫有金章宗“羣玉中秘”朱文大印,是曾入金內府者。贉尾有文衡山、王伯榖二跋,古雅可誦。文書得智永筆法,王書有率更遺意。弁首文待詔篆“豳風畫觀”四字,尤清勁入妙,置諸吳興《千文》中,未易伯仲。

At the seam of the eight image is the large seal of Emperor Zhangzong of the Jin [1168-1208, ruling 1190-1208] in red script, reading “Imperial Treasures of Myriad Jades”, which suggests that [this handscroll] was once part of the imperial collection of the Jin [1115-1234]. At the end there are two colophons by Wen Hengshan [i.e. Wen Zhengming] and Wang Bogu [i.e. Wang Zhideng], both showing ancient grace and worth reciting. Wen’s calligraphy has the style of Zhiyong [4]; Wang’s calligraphy is reminiscent of Lügeng’s [5] legacy. For the frontispiece, Wen [i.e. Wen Zhengming] inscribed the four characters that read “Scenes from the Airs of Bin” in seal script, which are so marvellously fine and powerful. [Even if they] were compared with the “Thousand-Character Text” by Wuxing, [6] it would not be easy to tell which [calligraphy] is superior.


時咸豐四年春仲,書於宣武城南之餘蔭軒,張錫庚題。

Inscribed by Zhang Xigeng in the mid-spring month of the fourth year of Xianfeng [27 February – 28 March, 1854], in the Ample-Shade Pavilion in the south of Xuanwu City.

[1] Wu Daoyuan refers to Wu Daozi 吴道子, a celebrated painter of the Tang dynasty. [2] Longmian 龍眠 is the style name of the Northern Song painter Li Gonglin 李公麟 (1049-1106). [3] Siling refers to Emperor Gaozong of Song宋高宗 (1107-1187, ruling 1127-1162). [4] Zhiyong 智永 (fl. sixth century) is a renowned calligrapher and a descendant of Wang Xizhi 王羲之 (303-361). [5] Lügeng 率更 (Director of the Watches) is the official title of the Tang calligrapher Ouyang Xun 歐陽詢 (557-641). [6] Wuxing 吳興 (in modern Zhejiang) is the hometown of the Yuan calligrapher Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫 (1254-1322).


 

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