The Brief Biography of Deng Shiru

耰傷夫子 1999-10-22 13:38:53 热度:6694°C

The Brief Biography of Deng Shiru

by Shian

Deng Shiru(1743-1805) , a great calligrapher and seal carver in the Qing Dynasty(1616-1912), was born in Huaining inAnhui province. His original name was Deng Yan, but he had to change name to Shiru at the age of 53 to avoid Emperor JiaQing"s Taboos Yan.

Deng has many other literary names including Wanbo, Wanbai Shanren, Longshan Qiaozhang, Guwanzi, Jiyou Daoren, Fengshui Yuzhang etc. All these names posses unique stories or experiences.

Deng Shiru was an artist of profound learning. He was very famous for calligraphy and seal cutting at that time. He is regarded as the founder of Wan School or Deng school in seal cutting field.

Deng has a pure heart keen in art and few desires about material life. He was far away from officialdom and lived as an ordinary person throught his life.

Deng Shiru was born of a poor teacher"s family. However, his grandfather and father wereboth good at calligraphy and painting. They regarded nonostentation and hard-working as virtue. Deng Shiru inherited these characters from them.

The Brief Biography of Deng Shiru

Deng Shiru was fond of calligraphy and seal cutting. Although he was poor, he was knowledgeable and obtained achievementswhen he was very young.

When Deng Shiru was nine years old, he studied to follow the steps of his father. But he had to give up the study within one year due to poor family condition. He had to farm, gather woodcutters and sell cakes to support his family.

Poverty could not suppress the potential talent. Deng Shiru studied very hard in his spare time. He displayed great interest in ancient culture and art. He read any available books thoroughly but deeplyto seek the truth whenever and wherever possible.

Deng often practiced calligraphy on the ground, using reeds as pen brushes He tried hard to learn Seal script Yishan of Qin dynasty, Offical script Shichen, Kongxian of Han dynasty, and studied seal carving works from Qin and Han dynasty. He improved his skills very fast and became famous in his county after some years.

When he was 17 years old, Deng Shiru wrote the famous seal script work "Xue Lang bookroom"s Note and Preface" for Xiaosha, a famous local senior citizen The villagers praised him and called him "The Rebirth of Two Li l(Li Si and Li Yangbing, two famous ancient calligraphiers). Since then, Deng earned the living by calligraphy and seal carving.

At the age of 20, Deng Shiru worked in a priviatschool. But he left for the mischievous students in no time. Then he went to Shouzhou with his father and opened another private school, which closed the following year because of his wife"s death. Thereafter he stopped being teacher and spared his efforts on traveling around the country for studying.

When he was 30 years old, Deng got to know the celebrityLiang Yan in Shouzhou.Liang praised Deng"s calligraphy highly and said that Deng"s powerful calligraphy was better than his.He ascertained that Deng would become the greatest artist for his amazing talent.

Mr. Liang liked Deng very much, regarding him as a jade hiding in stone. He recommended Deng to Mei Miu in Jiangning (today"s Nanjing, Jiangsu Province). Mei was a great collector from the renowned family in the south of the Yangzi River.

The three brothers in the Mei family were all friendly to Deng,showing Deng every piece of great works. Deng studied very hard during the time that he lodged there for eight years. He copywrote those calligraphy or seal works even for a hundred times."Every morning, I set up very early and make a whole plate of ink, and then I keep on pratising calligraphy until into the midnight. I keep on doing that in the whole year." Deng Shiru said.

The Brief Biography of Deng Shiru

Deng was good at all the four calligraphy scripts like seal script, offical script, regular script, running script with his own style. People appraised his works as superb.

Deng was capable of comprehending the same principle between calligrpahy and seal. He applicated to his art practice. So his seal works are natural, full of energy and grace combining the styles of Qin"s seal script and Han"s offical script. Many seal carvers followed Deng Shiru"s style later. People called his unique style "Deng School" or "Wan School".

The book "Something about Deng Shiru"s seal script calligraphy’s copy" , which was written by Deng"s student Wu Yu, has described Deng"s study experence in calligraphy: "My seal script calligraphy began from Li Yangbing. When I found its disadvantage some years later, I gave it up. Then I studied the works from stone inscriptions, such as TianFaShenCi, SanGongShan, KaiMuShiQue, ZhiFu, ShiGu calligraphy, sacral vessels, Han"s tablet inscription, etc. I study them profoundly and try to copy them diligently."

Deng Shiru was thirty-eight year old in the forty-fifth year of QianLong reign (1780). He bid farewell to Mei brothers, riding a thin donkey, woring old straw hat and awned shoes, and travelled to and from the Yangtze River, Huangshan Mountain, Hui Zhou, Hang Zhou, Xiu Ning, She Xuan and other places. He studied the calligraphy works in the temples, searching and observing the stone tablets in the wilds.

He studied the works very carefully, trying to digest their spirit and combine it into his own works. So his works look very forceful, primitive and crude. Deng became the greatest artist on tablet-calligraphy at that time.

When Deng stayed in Shexian, a county of Anhui province, he met Zhang Huiyan, a private school teacher in the No.1 Scholar Jin Bang"s family. Zhang was astonished to see Deng"s works. He recommended Deng to Jin Bang immediately. So Deng stayed at Jing"s home for over a year. Jin took down all others" horizontal inscribed boards at home and replaced them with Deng"s works.

Deng made friends with many great scholars like Fang Junren, Chen Yaotian, Yao Nai, Cao Wenzhi, Luo Pin, etc. during the period. And he read their collecters and improved his own skills quickly with the help ofthese good friends andbecame even more famous than before.

Cao Wenzhi, the minister of works who was an important minister of the dynasty, admired Deng"s calligraphy and praised him as the No.1 calligrapher in the dynasty. He was very kind to Deng and willing to pay heavy rewards to his works often. Deng made a seal work “Yi Ri Zhi Ji” to Cao as souvenir later.

In the fifty-fifth years of Qianlong period (1790), Deng went to Beijing at the invitation from Cao Wenzhi. His calligraphy caused a sensation in the city. Many official ministers like Liu Yong, Lu Xixiong, Ji Xiaolan, etc. praised him highly. They regarded him as a great artist ——who had never been witnessedfor hundreds of years.

The Brief Biography of Deng Shiru

But another minister Wen Fanggang didn’t like him and belittled his art. Deng Shiru didn’t want to fawn on him and left the city afterwards He worked as the assistant to the governor of Hunan and Hubei Bi Yuan for three year from 1791 to 1794,but he didn"t like the colleagues scheme against each other, so he decided to leave and move on.

When Deng was 52 years old, he went back to homecounty from Wuchang and purchased 40 mu land and built a house. He wrote the inscription "TieYan Shanfang" at the lintel of the door by himself.

Deng Shiru was honest and kindhearted. He liked to help others and had a good reputation in the county.

Meanwhile , he liked travelling very much . He travelled to and from Jingkou(today"s Zhengjiang), Jiangning(Today"s Nanjing), Yangzhou, Changzhou, Suzhou, Hangzhou and other places.

He came across and studied art with his friends. He achieved very high level in arts and became an acknowledge and recognized leader in the field of calligraphy and seal carving.

Deng was 54 years old in 1796. He boarded with Yuan Tingji in Dan Tu county. Yuan presented him a couply of cranes. Deng liked the cranes very much. Unfortunally, the female one died after five years. Sadly, Deng buried it in Jixian temple and wrote "He Zhong" on the stone tablet. Heset up the male crane in the temple also.

In his old age,Deng traveled at Zhengjiang, Jingxian, etc. In 1802, He admitted Bao Shicheng as his disciple. Deng Shiru liked Bao very much and instructed him without any reservation.

Bao Shicheng was gifted in arts talent and was a good speecher as well. He tried his best to promote the teacher"s achievements. And then Bao Shicheng imparted Deng"s konwledge and art skills to his disciple Wu Xizai, another great artist in the late Qing Dynasty. Bao was not famous for seal carving, but he made great contribution to Deng school.

In the tenth year of Jiaqing period(1805), Deng received the bad news that the male crane died of fighting with snakes. His heath was deteriorating since then. In the beginning of that winter, Deng Shiru died at the age of 63.

Shian"s mark:Throughout Deng Shiru"s whole life, he had met with many rich and influential officials. But he was noble and didn’t care about fame and wealth. He prefered to be a common man. He had travelled widely to famous mountains and rivers, trying hard to improve his art achievements in the spirit of nature. His calligraphy and seal carving are particularly sophisticated and refined and prominent in the arts field As the art leader with his pioneering spirit at that time, he was respected as an art giant by all kinds of people.This honor is truly unique over the past hundreds of years.