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Sha Menghai
2017-02-27Text Size: A A A

Sha Menghai (1900-1992) was formerly called Wen Ruo. His courtesy name was Menghai, also known as Shihuang, Shacun and Jueming. He was born in a famous doctors’ family in Shacun, Yin County. He has received good education and practiced seal cutting since his childhood. He studied in Cixi Jintang school and graduated from The Fourth Normal University of Zhedong. In 1922, Sha went to Shanghai and worked as a private teacher, during which he was fortunate to meet masters like Kang Youwei, Wu Changshuo, who exerted profound influences on Sha’s calligraphy and seal cutting. In 1925, he taught in the Commercial Press, during which he learned palaeography from Feng Junmu and Chen Qihuai and made great progress. His inscriptions on ancient bronzes and stone tablets were published many times in Huaguo Monthly sponsored by Zhang Taiyan. Sha used to work as the standing committee member of Cultural Relics Management Committee of Zhejiang Province, the honorary curator of Zhejiang Province Museum, Vice-chairman of Chinese Calligraphers Association, Chairman of Zhejiang Province Calligraphers Association, and Proprietor of Xiling Society of Seal Arts, Dean of Xiling Painting and Calligraphy Institute, the honorary chairman of Society for Zhejiang Province Archaeology. He drew lessons from ancient masters, among them are calligraphers Zhong Yao, Wang Xizhi, Ouyang Xun, Yan Zhenqin, Su Shi and Huang Tingjian. While learning from calligraphers in both ancient and modern times, he developed a unique style of his own. He was also adept at seal character, official script, running script and regular script. The features of Sha’s calligraphy were vigorous, robust and with great momentum. Sha was very knowledgeable and he did a lot of research on language, literature and history, archaeology, calligraphy and seal cutting.
Before the age of thirty, Sha’s works copying inscription rubbing included Collection of Wang Xizhi’s Calligraphy Works, Stele of Zheng Wenlong and Zhang Menglong, etc. This period could be called as a period of pursuing even and straight structures of characters. At his middle age, with his increasing knowledge and rich experience, Sha paid more attention to the pattern and style of characters and the momentum of layout of calligraphy works. Of course, he did not completely give up regular script, which he wrote meticulously and occasionally. He would occasionally write regular script. During this period, his works could be described as a period of “aware of the even and straight structures but pursuing the precariousness”. This period lasted for nearly forty years. After 1980’s, with the revival of “the new period” of literature and art, Mr. Sha ushered in the spring of his calligraphy works. Mr. Sha threw himself into the work of calligraphic creation with great passion and a high spirit. His works entered into a golden age during this period: “mostly pursuing evenness and straightforwardness but occasionally creating precariousness.”  Running script and big characters were dominant among his works during this period. It was through these two kinds of calligraphy works that people saw hope in the contemporary calligraphy circles.
The style of Sha’s calligraphy works went through from elegant to bold and vigorous, and finally turned towards to plain and unadorned. It is similar to the plants which are gorgeous and colorful in the spring and luxuriant in the summer; and is also similar to the humans who are magnanimous in the late autumn and eventually become vast and boundless in the winter. Mr. Sha’s calligraphy works were combined with features of vigorousness and naturalness.  

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