130.0 x 29.8cm calligraphy; 140.8 x 33.7cm couplet part a; 130.0 x 29.8cm calligraphy; 140.8 x 33.7cm couplet part b:
a - Part a; 130 x 29.8cm
b - Part b; 130 x 29.8cm
The couplet, written on two narrow pieces of paper or silk, and hung on either side of a large painting or doorway, is one of the most common forms of calligraphic art. The couplets themselves are either taken from Tang and Song poetry or contemporary literary works composed by the calligraphers themselves and their friends.
A couplet is made up of two parts called the head and the tail. In this example, the head reads, "Wandie yunshan mojie hua (Myriad clouded peaks look like a painting by Mojie [Wang Wei, 699-759, a renowned painter and poet of the Tang dynasty])", and the tail reads, "Sishi huaniao duling shi (The flowers and birds of four seasons sound as a poem by Du Fu [712-770, one of the greatest poets of the Tang dynasty)". An inscription is seen on the lower left side of the tail, which reads, "Jiecheng Tianzhihe (Tian Zhimei, alia Jiecheng)". Two seals follow the inscription: "Jiecheng Tian Zhimei (Tian Zhimei, alia Jiecheng)", and "Rencheng hanlin (A member of the Imperial Hanlin Academy in the year of 'rencheng')". It is apparent that the calligrapher of the couplet was a scholar official who served at the time in the highest imperial scholarly institute, the Hanlin Academy during the Qing dynasty. Due to the lack of information, however, the exact date of the year of 'rencheng' is not clear at the moment. It could be dated 1652, 1712, 1772, 1832, and 1892.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, August 2001