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Title

Mengzi in seal script (section)


Artist

Gui Dian

China

1865 - 1958


About

The passage was taken from the chapter of Gao Zi Xia in Mengzi (Mencius), one of the Confucian classics, composed of conversations between Mengzi (372–289 BC or 385–303 or 302 BC) and rulers of the Warring States period ( 475 -221 BCE).

故天将降大任于是人也,必先苦其心志,劳其筋骨,饿其体肤,空乏其身,行拂乱其所为,所以动心忍性,曾益其所不能。
人恒过,然后能改,困于心衡于虑而后作,征于色发于声而后喻。入则无法家拂士,出则无敌国外患者,国恒亡,然后知生于忧患而死于安乐也。

Translation: Thus, when Heaven is about to confer a great office on any man, it first exercises his mind with suffering, and his sinews and bones with toil. It exposes his body to hunger, and subjects him to extreme poverty. It confounds his undertakings. By all these methods it stimulates his mind, hardens his nature, and supplies his incompetencies. Men for the most part err, and are afterwards able to reform. They are distressed in mind and perplexed in their thoughts, and then they arise to vigorous reformation. When things have been evidenced in men's looks, and set forth in their words, then they understand them. If a prince have not about his court families attached to the laws and worthy counsellors, and if abroad there are not hostile States or other external calamities, his kingdom will generally come to ruin. From these things we see how life springs from sorrow and calamity, and death from ease and pleasure.' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mencius_(book), accessed on 28 August, 2019)

Phrases from this passage have become famous quotes in Chinese literature both in the past and present, such as “when Heaven is about to confer a great office on any man, it first exercises his mind with suffering, and his sinews and bones with toil. It exposes his body to hunger, and subjects him to extreme poverty. It confounds his undertakings. By all these methods it stimulates his mind, hardens his nature, and supplies his incompetencies”, and “From these things we see how life springs from sorrow and calamity, and death from ease and pleasure”.

The passage was written in seal script. A typical feature of this script is the uniformity of size and shape of the characters. The brush strokes are round and have a supple quality. The evenness demonstrates painstaking execution.


Details


Alternative title

篆书《孟子》节选


Place where the work was made

China


Media category

Calligraphy


Materials used

ink on paper


Dimensions

126.5 x 30.5 cm image; 131.5 x 38.2 cm overall


Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Credit

Gift of Helen Suk-yue Wheeler in memory of her parents Li Tung and Fund Ching-fei


Location

Not on display


Accession number

183.2019


Artist information

Gui Dian

Works in the collection

7


Place

Where the work was made
China