An image of Couplet

Ou Weibai

(China  – )

Couplet

Location
Not on display
Further information

‘Both duckweed and spring are sweet and pleasant; the water is as serene as ice, and as bright as a mirror. The Way flourishes as time moves on; fortune flows along with the river.’
Inscription and signature: For appraisal of Mr Zhuosheng. Assembling words from the 'Commemorative stele for the Sweet Spring at Jiucheng Palace'. Ou Weibai, alias Xinfu.

‘Kaishu’ (regular script) was the predominant script in the Tang dynasty. Among others, the scripts of Yan Zhenqing and Ouyang Xun (557–641), both leading officials at the court, were most valued. Their calligraphy has been noted for solidity and strength, reflecting their irreproachable moral character. Throughout history, their scripts have served as the foremost models of regular script.

The ‘Commemorative stele for the Sweet Spring at Jiucheng Palace’ is one of the most recommended works in Ouyang calligraphic style, and is known for its sense of order and structure. It displays gracefulness while maintaining solemnity.

The life of Ou Weibai remains a mystery.

‘The Poetic Mandarin: Chinese Calligraphy from the James Hayes Collection’. pg.134.
© 2005 Art Gallery of New South Wales

The couplet, written on two narrow pieces of paper or silk, and hung either side of a large painting or doorway, is one of the most common forms of calligraphic art and has a long standing history in China. They first appeared in the Five Dynasties period (907-979) as pairs of plaques, carved after written master copies, to decorate architectural columns, courtyards and garden doorways. Couplets for indoor display, written on paper or silk, came into existence in the 17th century and gained great popularity in the Qing dynasty. The couplets themselves are either taken from classical poetry or contemporary literary works composed by the calligraphers themselves and their friends. A couplet is made up of two parts called the head and the tail. The two lines of verse are antithetically parallel. Formerly it was a very common practice to send them to friends or relations on such occasions as marriages and birthdays, or as condolences to families of deceased persons.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, August 2003.

Place of origin
China
Media
Calligraphy
Medium
pair of hanging scrolls; ink on paper
Dimensions
a - right scroll; 169.6 x 35.7 cm; image
a - right scroll; 205.5 x 39.9 cm; scroll
b - left scroll; 169.6 x 35.7 cm; image
b - left scroll; 205.5 x 39.9 cm; scroll
Signature & date

Signed c.l. part b, in Chinese, inscribed in black ink “Xinfu, Ou Weibai”
Signed l.l., part b, in Chinese, stamped in red ink “Ou Weibai yin [artist's seal]".
Signed l.l., part b, in Chinese, stamped in red ink “Xinfu [artist's seal]".
Not dated.

Credit
Gift of Dr. James Hayes 2003
Accession number
310.2003.a-b