Excerpt from “Preface to the Gathering at the River” in running-standard script

Artist: Bada Shanren 八大山人 (朱耷) (1626-1705)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, ca. 1697
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 26.2 x 19 cm (10 5/16 x 7 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — funds provided by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Calligraphy

Album leaf

China, copy, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), Shao F. Wang collection

To 1997
Wang Fangyu (1913-1997), to 1997 [1]

To 1998
Shao F. Wang, New York and Short Hills, NJ, by descent, to 1998

From 1998
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Shao F. Wang in 1998


[1] According to Curatorial Note 3, Joseph Chang and Stephen D. Allee, May 7, 1998, and Joseph Chang and Stephen D. Allee, August 18, 1998, in the object record.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Shao F. Wang
Wang Fangyu 1913-1997


The Preface to the Gathering at the River was composed by the great calligrapher Wang Xizhi (ca. 303-ca. 361 C.E.), who exerted an enormous influence on all subsequent generations of Chinese calligraphers, including Bada Shanren. Between 1693 and 1700, Bada produced at least twelve dated and undated versions of this text using various formats--hanging scroll, single album leaf, multiple album leaves, and folding fan--making it both the most commonly quoted text in his extant corpus and the single text with which he conducted the most widely varied calligraphic experiments. Rather than imitating the calligraphy of Wang Xizhi, however, Bada felt free to use his own reconstruction of fourth-century running-standard script to write the leaf. The following is a partial translation of the text:

"During late spring in the ninth year of the Yonghe reign period [353], we assembled at the Orchid Pavilion in Shanyin Prefecture, Kuaiji County, to observe the purification rites. . . . In this spot there are lofty ranges and exalted mountains, thick groves and tall bamboo, and a clear current gushing and swirling, shining about us left and right, that has been led to form a winding stream for floating wine cups. . . . On this day, the sky was bright and the weather clear, and how pleasant the gentle breeze! We delighted our eyes and gave rein to our passions, so truly enjoyable it was."

Translation by Stephen D. Allee

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 244-251.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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