Compassion for the Farmer - Flowing Calligraphy Poem Wall Scroll

Approximate Measurements

Artwork Panel: 31.6cm x 65.3cm  ≈  12½" x 25¾"

Silk/Brocade: 41cm x 125cm  ≈  16" x 49¼"

Width at Wooden Knobs: 50cm  ≈  19¾"

Compassion for the Farmer - Flowing Calligraphy Poem Wall Scroll close up view

Close up view of the calligraphy artwork mounted to this silk brocade wall scroll


Compassion for the Farmers
Sympathy for the Peasants

By Li Shen (772 - 846 A.D.)

This poem filled with appreciation for the trouble and hard work of the peasant farmer was written some 1200 years ago. Here is the translations:

First a somewhat-literal translation...

Weeding under the midday sun,
Sweat soaks into the farmland.
Whomever contemplates the food on their tray,
should know it came from great work and toil.

Now with some poetic license...

Farmers weeding at noon,
Sweat down the field soon.
Who knows food on a tray,
Thanks to their toiling day?

Another version...

When crops are worked at noon,
It is sweat that moistens the soil.
Who stops to think, before a bowl of food,
That every grain comes only through long toil?

About the calligraphy style...

This style of calligraphy is a flowing caoshu. The word cao means "grass" and shu means "script" or "writing". In English, this is often translated as "cursive". In this style, each character flows into the next. Instead of distinct strokes as seen with more conventional characters, you'll see just one almost-continuous stroke. Because of the special cursive nature, many Chinese people probably can't read this poem without some hints or help.

About the artist...

Xu Xueqin

Calligraphy artist Xu Xue-Qin practicing his art

The artist's name is 許 學 勤 (Xu Xue-Qin) of Jia Shan, which is in Zhenjiang Province of Southern China. He currently works as a school teacher in Jia Shan. Along with teaching, writing calligraphy is his passion.

Xu Xue-Qin is far beyond a hobbyist calligrapher. His calligraphy has been awarded and certified for its quality (see certificate below from a nation-wide calligraphy competition, May 2010). His calligraphy was also chosen for the cover of a widely-read magazine, The World of Weiqi. His calligraphy is also featured in calligraphy textbooks. On weekends and evenings, he can be found teaching calligraphy at a local art school.

Note: I do have a bit of guanxi with this calligrapher which allows me to offer his work to you at a very special price. He happens to be my wife's uncle.

World of Weiqi

Xu Xue-Qin's work featured on the front cover
of The World of Weiqi magazine.

Xu Xueqin's certificate

About the artwork and wall scroll...

The artwork was painted on Chinese xuan paper (known incorrectly as "rice paper" in the west). This is a high-quality handmade paper which is based on mostly cotton pulp.

This artwork was taken to our workshop in Beijing where we mounted it as a nice two-toned silk brocade wall scroll. We use more xuan paper, silk brocade, brass hardware, wood, other paper products, and our specially-made solid-wood knobs to build our wall scrolls.