Wen Tianxiang (1236-83), the heroic official who resisted the invasion of Mongolian troops in Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), is rightly remembered in China for his patriotism, righteousness and loyalty to his people and land. Yet, little is known about his brilliant calligraphy skills.
Wen’s excellence in calligraphy art has been well documented in several historical books. His writing in seal script was recognized for its firmness and strength, according to the nine-volume “The Highlights of the History of Chinese Calligraphy,” compiled by Tao Zeyi in 1376. Unfortunately, none of Wen’s seal-script writing can be found today. Only a couple of his semi-cursive and cursive pieces still remain. One of the few classics is in the scroll of a preface he wrote for “Mu Ji Ji,” or “The Anthology of Wooden Rooster.”
Written by Zhang Qiang, a close friend of Wen, the anthology has nothing to do with cockfighting but the author’s attitude toward life and studies.
“Wooden Rooster” tells a tale of training fighting roosters in “Zhuang Zi” (or “Zhuang-tzu”), a philosophic masterwork written by principal Chinese Taoist Zhuang Zi.