An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Siling hanmo zhi 思陵翰墨志

Oct 22, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Siling hanmo zhi 思陵翰墨志 "Treatise on Brush and Ink from Siling Mound", also called Gaozong hanmo zhi 高宗翰墨志, full title Gaozong huangdi yuzhi hanmo zhi 高宗皇帝御製翰墨志, short title Hanmozhi 翰墨志, or Pingshu 評書, is a book on painting and calligraphy written by Zhao Gou 趙構, who is better known as Emperor Gaozong 宋高宗 (r. 1127-1162) of the Song dynasty 宋 (960-1279). The short text was written during a period of illness in which Zhao Gou was not able to take the sword.

The book was highly praised by Lu You 陸游 (1125-1210) in his Weinan ji 渭南集 for the intuition with which the Emperor had understood the eight methods of calligraphy (bafa 八法). The encyclopaedia Yuhai 玉海, written by Wang Yinglin 王應麟 (1223-1296), explains that the author began with studies of the calligraphy of the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) master Huang Tingjian 黃庭堅 (1045-1105), later that of Mi Fu 米芾 (1051-1107), and finally that of the ancient Jin-period 晉 (265-420) master Wang Xizhi 王羲之 (303-361) and his son Wang Xianzhi 王獻之 (344-386). A higher level of mastering the art of calligraphy was occupied with the oeuvres of Zhong Yao 鍾繇 (151-230) and the two Wangs that were a precondition to finally develop an own style.

The author explains that he had always been interested in calligraphy and saw this art as a great help for self-cultivation. A great part of practicing the art of calligraphy was to imitate ancient works or rubbings and copies of them. Emperor Gaozong was of the opinion that there were only very few Song period scholars that really mastered the skill of the brush, like Li Jianzhong 李建中 (945-1013), Cai Xiang 蔡襄 (1012-067) or Li Shiyong 李時雍, but also Su Shi 蘇軾 (1037-1101), Huang Tingjian, Mi Fu and Xue Shaopeng 薛紹彭 (fl. 1086). Among the contemporaries, Wu Yue 吳說 (c. 1092-c. 1170), Xu Jing 徐競 (1091—1153) and Du Tangxi 杜唐稽 (early 12th cent.) were "good", but not "perfect".

The author advocated the use of both the standard script (zhengshu 正書) and the "grass script" (caoshu 草書). He admired especially the latter, to be seen in his praise for the works of Mi Fu.

The book Hanmoji includes a chapter on the ink-stone (Lun yan 論硯) that is very interesting for collectors. It is a very helpful book for the assessing of calligraphic skills of Song-period masters. The Hanmoji is included in the series Baichuan xuehai 百川學海, Zhanshi shuyuan buyi 詹氏書苑補益, Shuofu 說郛, Shuyuan 書苑 and Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Beijing Dongfang Shoucangjia Xiehui 北京東方收藏家協會, ed. (1996). Zhonghua shoucang da cidian 中華收藏大辭典 (Beijing: Beijing Yanshan chubanshe), 29.
Dai Yaqin 代亞琴 (2020). "Zhao Gou Hanmozhi 趙構《翰墨志》", Mei yu shidai 美與時代, 2020 (8): 129.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1799.
Wang Yuchi 王玉池 (1992). "Hanmozhi 翰墨志", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Meishu 美術 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 297.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 937.