Prefaces to the Sacred Teachings and the Heart Sutra in running script

Artist: Writing by Wang Xizhi 王羲之 (ca. 303-ca. 361) Assembled by Huairen (mid- to late 7th century)
Historical period(s)
Tang dynasty, inscription: 672; rubbing: 20th century
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 227.4 x 96.1 cm (89 1/2 x 37 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Peking University
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Calligraphy, Rubbing

Rubbing (mounted on panel)

China, Heart Sutra, lettering, running script, Tang dynasty (618 - 907)

To ?
Peking University, Beijing, China. [1]

From 1976
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Peking University, Beijing, China. [2]


[1] According to the Curatorial Remark 5 in the object record, this rubbing was donated by Peking University, Beijing, China at an undetermined date.

[2] According to Kate Theimer’s note from June 6, 1995, “This rubbing appears to have been given by the Peking University to the Freer Gallery of Art at an undetermined date prior to 1976. It was transferred from the Library to the permanent collection in 1976.” Also see object file, and the Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Peking University


The Tang emperor Taizong (reigned 626–649) was a great admirer of the works of Wang Xizhi (303–361), who was known as the Calligraphy Sage. For his Preface to the Secret Teaching, Emperor Taizong ordered the monk Huairen to assemble a complete set of Wang Xizhi’s characters from authentic works preserved in the imperial collection. Some of Wang’s original characters obviously were in different sizes, and when no equivalent ones were available, Huairen constructed them from component parts of several different characters. Although the entire composition is not visually unified, the general calligraphic style does provide an invaluable compendium of Wang Xizhi’s characters in the mid-seventh century. Emperor Taizong commanded this script be used in carving a stele in honor of the great monk Xuanzang (600–664). Now housed in the Stele Forest Museum in Xi’an, Shannxi province, that commemorative stone remains a significant example of the stylistic development of Chinese calligraphy.

Published References
  • Shoseki meihin sokan. 200 vols., Tokyo, 1958-1976. cat. 18.
  • Ando Kosei, Nishikawa Yasushi. Seian Hirin [Stone monuments in Sian, China]. Tokyo. pls. 59-60.
  • Dr. D. Tokiwa, Dr. T. Sekino. Buddhist Monuments in China. Tokyo, 1925-1930. pl. 14, fig. 1.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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