An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Mochi suolu 墨池瑣錄

Mar 9, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Mochi suolu 墨池瑣錄 (also written 墨池璅錄) "Petty records of the ink pond" is a book on calligraphy written during the mid-Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Yang Shen 楊慎 (1488-1559), courtesy name Yongxiu 用修, style Sheng'an 升庵, from Xindu 新都, Sichuan. Yang was a brilliant scholar with a wide range of publications like Danqian yulu 丹鉛餘錄, Tanyuan tihu 譚苑醍醐, Guang yijianzhi 廣夷堅志, the ichthyological book Yitu tuzan 異魚圖贊 or the travel report Dianchengji 滇程記.

His Mochi suolu with a length of 4 juan is a discussion of important calligraphers like Zhong Yao 鍾繇 (151-230), Wang Xizhi 王羲之 (303-361), Yan Zhenqing 顔真卿 (709-785), Liu Gongquan 柳公權 (778-865), Mi Fu 米芾 (1051-1107) or Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫 (1254-1322). The latter is highly praised by Yang Shen. Concerning contemporary artists, Yang writes positively about Song Ke 宋克 (1327-1387), but disdains the opus of Xie Jin 解縉 (1369-1415) and Zhang Bi 張弼 (1425-1487).

The text is composed of quotations and Yang's own thoughts noted down in free "brush-notes"-style (biji 筆記). Even if is quite reliable in the scholarly assessment of individual artists and their works, the arrangement of the book is rather confuse. In the second part, for instance, chapters have headline, but not so in the first two fascicles.

Quite interesting is Yang's observation of the technique of letting streaks of brush hairs to stand off to produce blank spaces within a brush stroke (feibaishu 飛白書) and his explanation of the difference between "famous calligraphies" (mingshu 名書) and "model calligraphies" (fashu 法書).

The text is found in the series Gezhi congshu 格致叢書, Shoufu xu 説郛續, Hanhai 函海, Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Duhuazhai congshu 讀畫齋叢書.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1808.
Qiu Zhenzhong 邱振中 (1992). "Mochi suolu 墨池瑣錄", 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, 574.
Wang Jianbing 王劍冰 (1996). "Mochi suolu 墨池瑣錄", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Yishu 藝術卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 510.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 926.