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Exquisite Discipline: Dong Qichang (1555-1636) and His Study of Sutra Scrolls of the Eighth Century


Exquisite Discipline: Dong Qichang (1555-1636) and His Study of Sutra Scrolls of the Eighth Century

Spiritual Flight Sutra, attributed to Zhong Shaojing (Chinese, active ca. 713–41). Metropolitan Museum of Art, public domain.


Taiwan Studies Lecture by Hui-Wen Lu, National Taiwan University


Wednesday, February 27, 2019
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Bunche Hall 10383


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The Spiritual Flight Sutra (Lingfei jing), now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a masterpiece of eight-century calligraphy. Transcribed in the finest small standard script, the Spiritual Flight Sutra was acclaimed as the embodiment of exquisite discipline in Chinese calligraphy. Although well known through numerous reproductions, few are aware of its close relation to the renowned Ming calligrapher and painter, Dong Qichang (1555-1636). Making use of a letter and colophons attached to the Spiritual Flight Sutra, I trace its provenance, focusing on how Dong Qichang brought it to the attention of collectors and calligraphers of his time. I then examine Dong’s theory about learning from ancient masterpieces and his own practice of sutra copying. I argue that Dong’s fondness for the Spiritual Flight Sutra and other eighth-century sutra scrolls came from his concern for reviving the ancient brush method as well as his religious devotion.

Click here to view the Spiritual Flight Sutra on the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The UCLA Taiwan Studies Lectureship is a joint program of the UCLA Asia Pacific Center and the Dean of Humanities and is made possible with funding from the Department of International and Cross-Strait Education, Ministry of Education, Taiwan, represented by the Education Division, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles.



Aaron Miller
(310) 825-0007
armiller@international.ucla.edu

Sponsor(s): Asia Pacific Center, Center for Chinese Studies, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles