Rubbing of the Holy Mother Manuscript in cursive script, with transcription and colophon in running-standard script

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Artist: Bada Shanren 八大山人 (朱耷) (1626-1705)
Calligrapher: Huaisu 懷素 (725-ca. 799)
Colophon: Colophon by Yang Chunhua
Historical period(s)
Tang, Northern Song, and Qing dynasty, original text: 793; inscribed on stele: 1088; colophon: 1698
Ink on paper
H x W (rubbing): 29.4 x 250.8 cm (11 9/16 x 98 3/4 in) H x W (transcription and colophons): 29.4 x 96 cm (11 9/16 x 37 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Bequest from the collection of Wang Fangyu and Sum Wai, donated in their memory by Mr. Shao F. Wang
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Calligraphy, Rubbing


China, copy, Northern Song dynasty (960 - 1127), Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), Shao F. Wang collection, Tang dynasty (618 - 907)

To 1997
Wang Fangyu (1913-1997) and Sum Wai (1918-1996), to 1997 [1]

To 1998
Shao F. Wang, New York and Short Hills, NJ, by descent, to 1998 [2]

From 1998
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of 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.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Shao F. Wang
Wang Fangyu 1913-1997
Sum Wai 1918-1996


The text of  the Holy Mother Manuscript was composed in 793 by an unknown author to record the renovation of a Daoist temple dedicated to the Holy Mother of Dongling, which was located near the modern city of Yangzhou in Jiangsu Province. Although unsigned, both the text and calligraphy were traditionally attributed to the famous Tang-dynasty calligrapher and Buddhist monk Huaisu (ca. 725-ca. 799), who was renowned for his "wild-cursive" script, as seen in the rubbing. This association with Huaisu led to the preservation of the calligraphy in 1088, when the text was carved onto a slab of stone. The original manuscript of the text was lost, but rubbings of the stone, such as the one seen here, were produced soon after carving and have been made ever since. Judging from the presence of his three seals, the current rubbing evidently belonged to Bada Shanren.

Published References
  • 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. 17, pp. 88-93, 154-55, 173-74.
  • 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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