Orchid Pavilion (Lan Ting Pavilion) Tours – Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, China
Orchid Pavilion (Lan Ting Pavilion)
About this place
The Orchid Pavilion, set in pleasing natural scenery with bamboo woods and winding streams, is situated 9 miles southwest of Shaoxing city, Zhejiang Province. A stele with inscription by Emperor Kangxi (reigned 1662-1723) is housed in the pavilion. Outside the pavilion a picturesque little lake extends some 30yd. In the center of this lake is a stone tablet with two ideograms which, roughly translated, mean “goose pond”. They are attributed to Wang Xizhi, the most accomplished calligraphy master, who in the year 335 of the Eastern Jin Dynasty wrote the famous “Preface to the Orchid Pavilion Poetry Collection”.
"Preface to the Orchid Pavilion Poetry Collection” is the most famous work of calligraphy by Wang Xizhi. Written in running-cursive script, it is the most well-known and wild-copied piece ever. It describes a gathering of 42 literati at the Orchid Pavilion during the Spring Purification Festival, the third day of the third lunar month, to compose poems and enjoy the wine. The gentlemen had engaged in a drinking contest: wine cups were floated down a small winding creek as the men sat along its banks; whenever a cup stopped, the man closest to the cup was required to empty it and write a poem. In the end, twenty-six of the participants composed thirty-seven poems.
The preface consists of 324 Chinese characters in 28 lines. The character zhi (之) appears 20 times, but no two look the same. It is also a celebrated work of literature, flowing rhythmically and giving rise to several Chinese idioms. It is a piece of improvisation, as can be seen from the revisions in the text. Its original work was greatly treasured by Emperor Taizong of Tang Dynasty, but unfortunately got lost later in history. What people could see now are the copies made by calligraphers after Tang Dynasty.
At the foot of Lanzhu Mountain, 14km southwest of Shaoxing City
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