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85 stars that light up the heavens

By Wang Kaihao | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-15 09:17
Auspicious Cranesby Northern Song Dynasty emperor Zhao Ji (10821135)  [Photo provided to China Daily]

One of the Shenyang exhibits, Auspicious Cranes, which Zhao drew when he was 31, is one of his most recognizable works for its eidetic portrayal of 20 cranes hovering or resting on a city gate.

"Unlike with other literati paintings executed in a simple, elegant style, the emperor is able to show off his skills in a complex, flamboyant way," Yang says.

"This is a rarity, too, in that it includes in one work his painting, calligraphy and seals."

In calligraphy, Zhao Ji also created a vigorous script called Slender Gold whose characters resemble gold filament. Such writing can be seen in Auspicious Cranes.

Calligraphic works by Zhao in other styles are not as well known, but his One Thousand Characters Classic in cursive script offers a new facet. It leads another all-star cast in the opening exhibition of the Liaoning museum's calligraphy gallery, in which 46 works are on display.

"Studying the strokes, you can discern that Zhao wrote the 1,000 characters almost nonstop on an 11.72-meter-long scroll," says Dong Baohou, curator of the calligraphy exhibition.

"That is a great artistic achievement."

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