王羲之傳說 Stories of Wang Xizhi
Inscribed list: National List, Third Batch
Inventory no.: I-100
Nominating unit(s): Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou City; Hubei Province, Huanggang City
Wang Xizhi is considered one of the greatest masters of Chinese calligraphy, and was born in the Jin Dynasty. His birthplace was in Shandong while he spent most of his life in Shaoxing City and Wenzhou, Zhejiang. Apart from being a calligrapher, he was also a writer and official.
In Zhejiang, Shandong, Jiangxi, Henan and Jianxu, there are several legends relating to Wang Xizhi. In 2011, stories of Wang Xizhi that originate from Zhejiang province were inscribed on the third batch of the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
One of these stories is of Wang Xizhi’s love of geese. Wang had a home with a goose pond where he raised several pet geese. One day, a Taoist priest paid Wang a visit, with a cage of white geese that caught Wang’s interest. Wang requested that the priest trade the geese to him, and was initially rejected, but after some persuasion, the priest agreed to offer the geese to him, if Wang agreed to write the Yellow Court Classic for him. Delightedly, Wang accepted the request and completed two chapters of the Classic for the priest after half a day. In return, the priest kept his promise and traded all the geese he brought to Wang.
Another story revolves around a fan. One day during early summer, Wang was strolling towards a stone bridge when he noticed an elderly lady trying to sell fans to the townspeople. Wang soon noticed her upset look and realized that she seemed to be having a rough day, so he walked over and inquired as to what was wrong. When she explained about her lack of business, Wang borrowed a pen and an inkstone, then proceeded to write on the fans. The lady was a bit worried that Wang might spoil the situation further, but later, Wang’s contribution and help was proven successful when townspeople immediately bought the fans with his calligraphy on it. At the end, the elderly lady earned herself a fortune thanks to Wang’s calligraphy art. In Shaoxing at the old town area of the city, a bridge named “Ti Shan Qiao”, meaning “The Bridge of Fan Inscription,” pays tribute to this story of Wang.
A third story of Wang also revolves around his love for geese. There was a village in Sheng County of Zhejiang province named Ling E Village (). Wang would bring his pet geese to the garden at the village for a walk. The village was originally named Shek Gu village due to the hills surrounding the village resembling rocky drums. One day, he decided to have a chat with the priest of the garden while leaving the geese unattended. Then, a crane flew down and lured one of his geese away. When Wang discovered one of his geese had gone missing, he immediately rushed to the Shek Gu temple, following the crane’s call.
Later, he soon retrieved the missing goose in the temple. At the same time, the owner of the temple requested assistance from Wang to help him add inscriptions on a plaque. Wang accepted and wrote “Hua he fei” (化鶴飛; meaning “becoming a crane and flying”) upon the plaque. As folks gathered to witness his mastery, the goose suddenly flew away and Wang had to chase it to get him back. It is not known whether Wang successfully retrieved his runaway goose at the end. But from that day on, Shek Gu village earned the nickname “Crane Spirit Village” thanks to the legend.