Tu Ta-chung, a Ming official, was a noted Suchou calligrapher and a member of the Wu school group of writers associated with Wang Chih-teng (1535-1612). This calligraphy fan, carefully written in hsiao-k'ai-shu
(small regular script), is an extraordinarily dense prose-poem composed by the T'ang poet Yang Chiung (650-ca.694) titled "Prosepoem While Leaning on the Study Desk." The verse recounts the serious rigor of true scholarship. A few lines read thusly:
Scholars have transmitted the classics and are involved in extending knowledge to the utmost...They have exerted themselves in study questing after improvement...How can a scholar sleep in peaceful withdrawal?...Let him emulate the national craftsmen and develop their skill. May he model himself on mountains and forests, taking them as his pattern...
Above is the prosepoem "While Learning on the Study Desk." Wan-li year i-yu (1558), ninth month at the first appearance of the moon, I was returning by boat from P'ing-ling. We took the route that goes by Hsi-ch'iu. Here I saw the clustered peaks in the misty rain, no less beautiful than a painting. I saw this fine fan lying on my desk, and so roughly brushed this to record my inspiration. But I do feel ashamed that my calligraphy is unskillful.