Huang Tingjian (1045-1105) and the Formation of Literati Aesthetics
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As a representative figure of the rising official-scholar class during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1126), poet and calligrapher Huang Tingjian (1045-1105) advocates an individualized and ingenious way of art creations that not only reflects profound knowledge about the traditional teachings, but transcends that boundary with fresh aesthetic considerations. This article studies Huang Tingjian’s time, his life as an official-scholar in the Northern Song, and artistic practice in various forms. It will first outline Huang's advocates about the poetic compositions as opposed to some of his contemporaries, and then take a closer look at his understanding on Chinese calligraphy and painting. It will focus on several of Huang's own writing about art works, together with a few critics of others especially those from his contemporaries, to analyze his contributions to the sophisticated literati aesthetics of the Northern Song period. For this purpose, this article includes a number of original Classical Chinese poems and essays. The author did the translations for these primary sources, if not otherwise indicated. By introducing several groups of artists and their artistic practice that might have been inspired by Huang's artistic ideology within China and in the greater East Asia stage, the conclusion emphasizes the deep and long-lasting influence his theories and practice have had on literati art far beyond the Northern Song China, and even centuries later in Japan as well.