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Medieval Ink Paintings

Illustrated Fan of Wang Xizhi

  • by Josetsu
  • Hanging scroll, light color on paper
  • Proportions: 83.1 x 32.6 cm
  • Muromachi Period (first half of 15th Century)
  • Important Cultural Property
  • AK 284
  • Kyoto National Museum

This fan depicts a story about the master calligrapher Wang Xizhi, in which he writes calligraphy on fans for a destitute, old, fan vendor, causing her business to boom. In this painting, Wang Xizhi is shown writing by a big tree. The figures of two children and the old woman are skillfully placed within the small scene.

The inscription within the painting is by Priest Taigaku Shusu; that written above is by Priest Isho Tokugan and is dated 1403. These two inscriptions prove that the picture was made by Josetsu, was used as a fan by Shusu, and was mounted as a hanging scroll by Shusu's student, Priest Shikyo.

This fan, with its simplified contour lines, is an excellent example of the genpitsu style of ink painting, modeled after Chinese master Liang Kai.

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