Tung Qichang [Tung Chi-Chang]

Tung Qichang [Tung Chi-Chang] was a native of Hua-ting, Siangsu. His familiar-name was Huan-tsai, his sobriquets Ssu-pai and Hsiang-kuang. Tung was hightly regarded as a youth by elder members of an elite group of literary men gathered around Wang Shih-chen, but for some reason Tung was unable to pass the chu-jen examinations at first. He turned to Chan (Zen) Buddhism and studied a branch known as "Mad Chan" under the quite eccentric leader of the school Lu Chih. Tung finally passed his chin-shih examination, and began a checkered career as an official that reached as high as Minister of the Board of Rites.

Tung Chi-chang was the principal spokesman and theoretical leader of a tightly knit group of literati who set the underlying critical and theoretical tone of painting and calligraphy for the next three-hundred years. In painting and calligraphy Tung sought and achieved a return to a style of strong and sometimes even provocative impact. His calligraphy is always full-bodied and rounded, looking backwards to the great calligraphers of the Sung and Yuan periods.

---From Masterpieces of Chinese Calligraphy in the National Palace Museum


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