Seven-character Verse in Running Script by Shen Zhou, Ming Dynasty


Folding fans had already become the trend of fan culture during the Chenghua reign of the Ming Dynasty. Such carry-on article of elegance was highly rewarded by officialdom by ingeniously integrating pleasant cool with grace. Lots of great calligraphers and artists of Ming like Shen Zhou, Wen Zhengming and Dong Qichang all created a large number of masterpieces. 

Shen Zhou was a widely-known outstanding calligrapher and artist of the Ming Dynasty, the founder of "Wu's Painting School" and one of the "Four Artists of Ming". He learnt running script from Huang Tingjian, which is fluently extended and straight in form, forceful and dignified in brush application, contracting and firm in structure. His calligraphic style set up a school of its own among the contemporary calligraphers.  

The poem praised the bone ribs of the fan as crystal ivory and beautiful jade; and snow-white paper is scattered with gold leaf flakes. "Unfolding without extra trouble" and "enjoying the refreshing cool" in the poem have fully demonstrated the grace and leisure of literati; the author used the story of “Huang Xiang Fanned the Pillow and Warmed the Blanket”, one of the Twenty-four Filial Exemplars, in the last line for eulogizing filial piety and kind human nature, which integrated the poem, scenery and sentiment as a whole.