Huaisu (simplified Chinese :怀素; traditional Chinese :懷素; pinyin :Huáisù, 737–799), courtesy name Zangzhen (藏真), was a Buddhist monk and calligrapher of the Tang Dynasty, famous for his cursive calligraphy. Fewer than 10 pieces of his works have survived. One of his representative works is Huai Su's Autobiography.
He was born in modern Changsha, Hunan. Not much is known of his early life. His secular surname may have been Qian (錢). It is possible that Huaisu was a nephew of the poet Qian Qi (錢起). He became a monk in his childhood, apparently out of poverty.
Legend has it that he planted banana trees (or any genus of trees under Musaceae) in the courtyard of the temple he lived, and used the leaves as paper to practice his art.He made his national fame in his early thirties when he came to Chang'an, which was then capital of China. Famous poets of his time spoke highly of his works, including Li Bai. Like Li Bai, he was fond of alcohol.
Traditionally Huaisu is paired with the older Zhang Xu as the two greatest cursive calligraphers of the Tang Dynasty. The duo is affectionately referred to as "the crazy Zhang and the drunk Su" (顛張醉素).
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Zhang Zhi, courtesy name Boying (伯英), was a Chinese calligrapher during the Han Dynasty. Born in Jiuquan, Gansu, he was a pioneer of the modern cursive script, and was traditionally honored as the Sage of Cursive Script (草聖). Furthermore, he is known as one of the Four Talented Calligraphers (四賢) in Chinese calligraphy.
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Huaisu'sAutobiography is a representative Chinese calligraphy work written by the renowned Tang dynasty Chinese calligrapher Huaisu in 777 AD. It is often considered today to be one of the best written cursive script (草書) works in Chinese calligraphy. The work measures 28.3 cm by 755 cm and is currently kept in the National Palace Museum, Taipei. However, recent studies on this particular piece kept in the National Palace Museum revealed that it was likely a Northern Song Dynasty modelling replica (映寫) of the original; there are also other replica versions of Huaisu's Autobiography.
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