ARTS / ART
Epitaph by Tang Dynasty calligraphy master Liu Gongquan unearthed in Xi’an
Published: Jan 13, 2023 12:53 AM
A calligraphy exhibition is held in Beijing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Wuxi Calligraphy Association from August 29 to September 2, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of Wuxi Calligraphy Association

A calligraphy exhibition is held in Beijing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Wuxi Calligraphy Association from August 29 to September 2, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of Wuxi Calligraphy Association

An epitaph relic, which was engraved with calligraphy written by renowned master Liu Gongquan of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), has been discovered in Shaanxi Province.

The discovery was reported on Thursday at a press conference held by Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau to introduce significant discoveries of 2022. 

The calligraphic treasure was found while local archaeologists were carrying out a project on three Tang Dynasty tombs in Shaanxi Province's capital city, Xi'an.

The tomb stone engraved with Liu's calligraphy is 76.7 centimeters in length and has a total of 1,769 characters. It was created by the master for his brother-in-law Yan Gongkuang. Its content is a detailed description of Yan's life stories and his family tree.  

This discovery marks what is so far the only relic of Liu's work that has been discovered through archaeological processes and also based on credible information such as clear location. 

Qu Guoding, a Chinese calligraphic expert specializing in Tang Dynasty relics, told the Global Times that the unearthed relic not only holds historical value, but also sheds light on the contemporary analysis of Liu's style.  

Liu was a regular script calligrapher who was known for his innovative spirit. 

Liu's calligraphic style features his aesthetics of powerful brush strokes and also has various virtues of other Tang Dynasty calligraphers like Yan Zhenqing.

"The relic appears to have been created by Liu in his 'sunset' years. His style was most mature at this time. For any modern calligraphers who want to look into the art of regular script, it is a valuable learning item," Wang Ming, another calligrapher in Beijing, told the Global Times.