Dong Qichang Perfectionism

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Dong Qichang was a Chinese landscape painter, calligrapher, and politician who lived during the Ming Dynasty. In 1555, Dong was born to a poor family in Huating, now known as Shanghai, China. However, Dong was raised in Songjiang and, at an early age, became interested in the artwork of painters and calligraphers. He passed the Prefectural Civil Service Exam at the age of twelve, allowing him to attend the Prefectural Government School. By the age of seventeen, he passed the Imperial Civil Service Exam. However, despite his knowledge, his sloppy calligraphy skills caused him to place in second. Described by some as a perfectionist, he would spend the next few years practicing his calligraphy, eventually becoming famous for it. By 1589, Dong passed the Metropolitan Exam…show more content…
The Northern school of Chan practices gradual cultivation or jian, a process that requires long periods of chanting, abstinence, and observance. In contrast, the Southern School of Chan advocates sudden enlightenment or dun, emphasizing meditation and self-cultivation. Dong saw the Southern School as superior and applied its concepts to painting. Dong believed that using self-expression to paint with the heart and feeling was superior to the professional artist’s method, which attempts exact replication. In fact, he viewed professional artists as slaves to nature. Dong Qichang used his similarities with Chan Buddhism to help spread his concept of Southern School painting. Art development in his Southern school had two stages. The first stage entails mastery of all the styles of the previous masters, which would lead to a dacheng or sudden enlightenment. Successfully reaching the requirements of the first stage, Dong believed an artist’s own innovations would lead to the second stage, manifesting a style unique to that artist. Wang Hui is thought to be Dong’s only immediate follower to successfully surpass his

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