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Recovering from Illness (平復帖)

Lu Ji (陸機, 261–303), Jin Dynasty (266–420)

Album leaf mounted as a handscroll, ink on paper, 23.7 x 20.6 cm, The Palace Museum, Beijing

       Lu Ji, a native of Huating (now part of Shanghai), came from an eminent family: his grandfather Lu Xun (陸遜) and his father, Lu Kang (陸抗), were famous Wu generals. Lu Ji demonstrated great literary talent from an early age, and as he matured his intellectual abilities continued to extend beyond the creation of calligraphic forms. His treatise Rhymeprose on Literature (Wen Fu, 文賦), for example, has held an important place among ancient Chinese literary theories. 

       This letter has survived almost two millennia to become a true calligraphic treasure. The letter itself has an unsophisticated style. The strokes are blunt and resemble bundles of silk or crooked iron wires — a far cry from the elegant calligraphic style of the Eastern Jin. Yet although the writing was rendered in draft-cursive (zhangcao, 章草), some of the characters are vertically oblong and tend to connect with characters that followed, showing a transition from draft-cursive to latter-day cursive script (jincao, 今草). For this reason, it is valuable for the study of the evolution of script forms. 

Recovering from Illness
Recovering from Illness

Source: Wang Yuchi, Striving for Perfection amid Social Upheavals, Chapter 3 of Chinese Calligraphy / Ouyang Zhongshi et al., translated and edited by Wang Youfen.