Poem by Yan Fang 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): 30 x 34.3 cm (11 13/16 x 13 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 poem on this album leaf, titled On Stopping for the Evening at Deer Gate Mountain, was composed by the Tang-dynasty poet Yan Fang (early-mid-8th century). In his postscript, Bada Shanren states explicitly that he wrote this leaf to "copy" the style of the Ming-dynasty calligrapher Wang Chong (1494-1533), also known as Yayi Shanren; however, the running-standard script Bada employed here has no stylistic precedent among Wang's known works. Bada's usage of the word "copying" is problematic and clearly means something other than the usual definition--perhaps something more along the lines of "inspired by." The opening and closing section of Yan Fang's eighteen-line poem may be translated as follows:

The place Pang Gong went to seek reclusion,
Is as hard to find as footprints on the waves.
My drifting boat arrives before nightfall,
I grip my walking stick and take a stroll,
Between double cliffs, the Deer Gate opens,
A hundred winding valleys heaped with gems.
Wandering abroad, I do not flee the world,
But seek the Dao to save my youthful face;
How can one follow cleverness and cunning,
Grab and contend for an awl's-tip of space?

(Translation by Stephen D. Allee)

Published References
  • Ni Yibin. Symbols, Art, and Language from the Land of the Dragon: The Cultural History of 100 Chinese Characters. London. p. 13.
  • Joseph Chang, Quianshen Bai, (Catalogue) Stephen Allee. In Pursuit of Heavenly Harmony: Paintings and Calligraphy by Bada Shanren from the Bequest of Wang Fangyu and Sum Wai. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 31, pp. 136-137.
  • 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, 262.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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