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Title

Hou chu shi biao (section) in semi-cursive script

Dec 1936


Artist

Gui Dian

China

1865 - 1958


About

The passage was taken from Hou chu shi biao [Later chu shi biao] by Zhuge Liang (181-234). Together with the Qian chu shi biao [Former chu shi biao], the main topics addressed in them included the reasons for the Northern Expeditions, as well as Zhuge Liang's personal advice to Emperor Liu Shan of Shu State during the Three Kingdom period (220-265) on how to govern and rule the state.

高帝明并日月,谋臣渊深,然涉险被创,危然后安。今陛下未及高帝,谋臣不如良、平,而欲以长策取胜,坐定天下,此臣之未解一也。
刘繇、王朗各据州郡,论安言计,动引圣人,群疑满腹,众难塞胸,今岁不战,明年不征,使孙策坐大,遂并江东,此臣之未解二也。
曹操智计,殊绝于人,其用兵也,仿佛孙、吴,然困于南阳,险于乌巢,危于祁连,逼于黎阳,几败北山,殆死潼关,然后伪定一时耳。况臣才弱,而欲以不危而定之,此臣之未解三也。
曹操五攻昌霸不下,四越巢湖不成,任用李服而李服图之,委任夏侯而夏侯败亡,先帝每称操为能,犹有此失,况臣驽下,何能必胜?此臣之未解四也。
自臣到汉中,中间期年耳,然丧赵云、阳群、马玉、阎芝、丁立、白寿、刘郃、邓铜等及曲长、屯将七十余人,突将、无前、賨叟、青羌、散骑、武骑一千余人。此皆数十年之内所纠合四方之精锐,非一州之所有;若复数年,则损三分之二也,当何以图敌?此臣之未解五也。
今民穷兵疲,而事不可息;事不可息,则住与行劳费正等。而不及今图之,欲以一州之地,与贼持久,此臣之未解六也。

Emperor Gao's[q] wisdom can be compared to the radiance of the sun and the moon. His strategists were very learned and far-sighted. However, he still had to go through difficulties and suffer some setbacks before he could achieve peace. As of now, Your Majesty is far from Emperor Gao, your advisers are not comparable to Liang and Ping,[r] yet Your Majesty intends to employ a long-term strategy to achieve victory and pacify the Empire smoothly. This is the first thing I do not understand.[s] Liu Yao and Wang Lang[t] each controlled provinces and commanderies. When they were discussing strategies to maintain peace, they often claimed to be following the ways of the ancient sages, but they were actually filled with doubts and worries. They were unwilling to go to war year after year, so Sun Ce gradually became more powerful and he eventually conquered Jiangdong.[u] This is the second thing I do not understand. Cao Cao was very intelligent and his expertise in military affairs is comparable to that of Sun and Wu.[v] He faced dangerous and difficult situations in Nanyang,[w] Wuchao,[x] Qilian,[y] Liyang,[z] and Beishan,[aa] and nearly lost his life at Tong Pass,[ab] but managed to achieve stability for a period of time.[ac] I am not very capable, but I still braved danger to bring peace and stability. This is the third thing I do not understand. Cao Cao attacked Chang Ba five times but failed;[ad] he attempted to cross the Chao Lake four times but was not successful.[ae] He appointed Li Fu as an official but Li Fu plotted against him;[af] he employed Xiahou but Xiahou was defeated and killed in action.[ag] The Late Emperor often said that Cao Cao was very capable but he still had his fair share of losses. My ability is poor, so how can I be assured that I will secure victory? This is the fourth thing I do not understand. I have been in Hanzhong for about a year now.[ah] During this year, I lost Zhao Yun, Yang Qun, Ma Yu, Yan Zhi, Ding Li, Bai Shou, Liu He, Deng Tong, and over 70 officers in total,[ai] as well as many tujiang and wuqian.[aj] The cong, sou, qingqiang, sanqi and wuqi, numbering over 1,000, was formed over a period of 10 years by recruiting the best from many places, and not just from only one province or one commandery.[ak] A few years from now, we will lose two thirds of what we have now. By then, what do we still have to fight our enemy with? This is the fifth thing I do not understand. Now, our people and our troops are weary, but war cannot cease. War cannot cease. The efforts and amount of resources we pump into an offensive approach towards the enemy are the same as if we were to adopt a defensive strategy and wait for the enemy to attack us. Why do we not attack the enemy now, and instead, pit the strength of our one province against them?[e] This is the sixth thing I do not understand.(translation subtracted from the wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chu_Shi_Biao, accessed on 28/8/2019)

Semi-cursive script is one fo the five major styles in Chinese calligraphy. Also known as walking or running script, it was the natural result of everyday handwriting, and used by a calligrapher who wants to put his/her thoughts down slightly faster and in more emotional manner. This type of script is considered as a bridge between more “rectangular” styles (such as regular script and clerical script) and cursive script.


Details


Alternative title

行草书《后出师表》(节选)


Place where the work was made

China


Cultural origin

China


Date

Dec 1936


Media category

Calligraphy


Materials used

ink on papaer


Dimensions

126.5 x 30.5 cm image; 131.5 x 38.6 cm overall


Signature & date

Signed c.l., in Chinese, inscribed in black ink "Written by Gui Dian in winter December of the year of Bingzi (1936) in Hanzhuan Inkstone Studio(?) at ancient Tuocheng city".
Signed l.l., in Chinese, stamped in red ink “?? [artist's seal]". (Yet to be confirmed)


Credit

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


Location

Not on display


Accession number

185.2019


Artist information

Gui Dian

Works in the collection

7


Place

Where the work was made
China