Excerpt from the Kong Zhou Stele in clerical script

Artist: He Shaoji (1799-1873)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, ca. 1860-61
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
H x W (image): 137.3 x 46 cm (54 1/16 x 18 1/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

China, clerical script, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911)
Provenance research underway.

He Shaoji was an important calligrapher and poet. He excelled in clerical, seal, standard, and running script and is known as one of the leading nineteenth-century scholars and calligraphers who found inspiration in the study of ancient writing. For this scroll, He Shaoji freely imitated a section of a stone stele erected in B.C.E. 164 in memory of the scholar and official Kong Zhou (103-163), who was a nineteenth generational descendent of the philosopher Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.). The portion copied by He Shaoji appears on the back of the stele, where the names and birthplaces of Kong Zhou's followers are recorded.

To achieve the lively, energetic brushwork seen here, He Shaoji held the brush tightly in a perpendicular manner and suspended his entire arm. The squat, compact structure of the individual characters, with their elongated diagonal strokes, emphatic horizontal strokes, and occasional heavy accents, is characteristic of clerical script from the Han dynasty (206 B.CE.-C.E. 220), while the randomly spaced wet ink blobs are intended to resemble the chipped, weathered stone of He Shaoji's ancient model.

Published References
  • Nakata Yujiro, Fu Shen. O-bei shuzo Chugoku hosho meiseki shu [Masterpieces of Chinese Calligraphy in American and European Collections]. 6 vols., Tokyo, 1981-1983. vol. 6: pl. 95.
  • Fu Shen, Glenn D. Lowry, Ann Yonemura, Thomas Lawton. From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 18, pp. 58-59.
  • Thomas Lawton, Joseph Chang, Stephen Allee. Brushing the Past: Later Chinese Calligraphy from the Gift of Robert Haftield Ellsworth. Exh. cat. Washington. p. 69.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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