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Calligraphy Copybooks (Tie)
Before paper was invented our ancients were writing on bamboo or wooden slips, cloth and silk fabrics. Books written on bamboo or wooden slips are known as jian (slips), and those written on cloth or silk are books or tie (copybook). Copybooks are collections of rubbings of stone inscriptions in the handwriting of famous calligraphers; they are made for people to learn calligraphy by imitation. For this reason the copybook is also known as "model calligraphy".
A model calligraphy copybook contains the works of either a single artist or several artists in different styles.
One-man copybooks came in vogue during the Wei and Jin dynasties (220-420 A.D.) some 1,500 years ago, and the better known of them are Wang Xizhi's Kaihuang Orchid Pavilion and Wang Xianzhi's On the Goddess of the Luo River in Thirteen Lines.
The best ancient copybooks of multiple calligraphic styles is the Three-Rarity Hall Model Copybook. In 1746, or the 11th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty, the emperor had what he regarded as the nation's three foremost calligraphic works collected and enshrined in the "Hall of Three Rarities", which was actually the western wing of the Hall for Mental Cultivation in the Imperial Palace. The rarities, worshiped by calligraphers through the ages, refer to the copybook of a Sunny Day after Pleasant Snow by Wang Xizhi of the Jin Dynasty, the Mid-Autumn Copybook by Wang Xianzhi, and the Boyuan Copybook by Wang Xun.
The invention of photocopying and modern printing technology has made
it possible for the works of celebrated Chinese calligraphers
to be photo-printed. This, however, can in no way eclipse the value
of hand-made model calligraphic copybooks as cultural
artefacts and collector's items.
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