Four-Character Motto about Health Maintenance by Zheng Fu, Qing Dynasty


Official script was improved by drawing features from the Han Dynasty steles and Northen Dynasties steles in the Ming and Qing dynasties, which established a unique style of that specific generation. The author of this work in front of us is exactly Zheng Fu, known as the best calligrapher of official script in the Qing Dynasty. 

Zheng Fu was born in Shangyuan, Jiangsu. He had produced a strong interest in official script since childhood and spent over thirty years in studying the Han Dynasty steles. He spent his entire family assets on heading to Hebei and Shandong and searching for works of the Han Dynasty steles. This Official-script Four-Character Motto about Health Maintenance depicts the experience of Zheng Fu in physical and spiritual cultivation. Four-character Motto originated from Taoist Sutra·Dongxuanjing, "By remaining indifferent whether granted favors or subjected to humiliation, liver would maintain health; by maintaining vigilance and reason whether in motion or motionlessness, heart would stay healthy; by eating regularly and being abstinent, spleen would be well; by being still of tongue, lungs would maintain health; by cleansing our heart and limiting our desires, kidney would stay healthy". 

In pursuit of official script, calligraphers of previous dynasties valued dignity more than flexibility; the official-script works created after the Han Dynasty either failed in corpulence or lost in frivolity. However, this work of Zheng Fu not only integrated the technique of official script writing with his individual vigor in brush application, but also took in certain writing technique of dry brush. The entire work is full of variety, vigor and a dense vintage sense, which brought up a world of its own. Exactly under the influence of Zheng Fu's innovation, the calligraphic revolution of the Qing Dynasty initiated a new path of development. Calligraphers after the reign of Emperor Qianlong and Emperor Jiaqing even regarded this style as the supreme realm of official script.