Commentary on the Book of Changes (易繫辭)
Zhu Xi (朱熹, 1130–1200), Song Dynasty (960–1279)
Album of 14 leaves, ink on paper, 36.5 x 61.8 cm per leaf, National Palace Museum, Taipei
Zhu Xi, courtesy name Yuanhui (元晦) and sobriquet Hui’an (晦庵), was a native of Wuyuan in Huizhou in present day Jiangxi province. Zhu was an important proponent of Lixue (also known as neo-Confucianism) who left behind an enormous corpus of written works, including the Collected Commentaries on the Four Books (四書集注), which exerted a heavy influence on the generations that followed him. This volume, which comprises excerpts from the Commentaries on the Book of Changes (Yizhuan, 易傳), is the only extant example of large calligraphic characters written in Zhu Xi’s hand. Each line contains only two characters, written with a fast-moving brush and composed so that they appear to have top-heavy structures. The characters’ lines are heavy and dark, with occasional glimpses of “flying white,” or places where the brush’s bristles separated to reveal empty space. This outstanding piece of ancient large-character calligraphy was donated to the National Palace Museum by Mr. Lin Zongyi (林宗毅, 1923–2006) in 1983.