Close up view of the artwork mounted to this silk brocade wall scroll
The most literal translation to English of this ancient Chinese proverb is:
"Past events not forgotten serve as teachers for later events".
However, it's been translated several ways:
Past experience, if not forgotten, is a guide for the future.
Past calamity is my teacher.
A good memory for the past is a teacher for the future.
The remembrance of the past is the teacher of the future.
If one remembers the lessons of the past; They will serve as a guide to avoid mistakes in the future.
This proverb comes from the 5th century B.C. just before the Warring States Period in the territory now known as China.
The head of the State of Jin, Zhi Bo, seized power in a coup. He did this with help from the armies of the State of Han and Wei. Instead of being grateful for the help from Han and Wei, he treacherously took the land of Han and Wei. Never satisfied, Zhi Bo employed the armies of Han and Wei to attack and seize the State of Zhao.
The king of Zhao took advice from his minister Zhang Mengtan and secretly contacted the Han and Wei armies to reverse their plans and attack the army of Zhi Bo instead. The plan was successful, and the State of Zhao was not only saved, but was set to become a powerful kingdom in the region.
Zhang Mengtan immediately submitted his resignation to a confused king of Zhao. When asked why, Zhang Mengtan said, "I've done my duty to save my kingdom, but looking back at past experience, I know sovereign kings are never satisfied with the power or land at hand. They will join others and fight for more power and more land. I must learn from past experiences, as those experiences are the teachers of future events".
The king could not dispute the logic in that statement and accepted Zhang Mengtan's resignation.
For generations, the State of Zhao continued to fight for power and land until finally being defeated and decimated by the State of Qin (which lead to the birth of the Qin Dynasty in 221 B.C.).
About the artist:
This calligraphy was created by Li Dan-Qing of Beijing. He's an older gentleman who has been involved with the art community of China, all of his life. Now in retirement, he creates calligraphy for us for sort of "hobby income".
About the materials and construction of this wall scroll:
The calligraphy was done using black Chinese ink on xuan paper (known incorrectly in the west as "rice paper"). The raw artwork was then taken to our Wall Scroll Workshop where it was laminated to more sheets of xuan paper, and built into a beautiful silk brocade wall scroll. Except for the use of a lathe to turn the wooden knobs, this wall scroll is virutally 100% handmade from start to finish (even the paper is made by hand).
The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size" single-character wall scroll. We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.
Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days. Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.
There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form
of art alive.
Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.
The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also
attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over
6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers
in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt
such a feat.