Letter on the Controversy over Seating Protocol


Zheng zuo wei tie (Letter on the controversy over seating protocol), also referred to as Lun zuo tie (Letter on the seating), and Yu Guo pu ye shu (Letter to Vice Director Guo), was composed and handwritten by Yan Zhenqing in the running script style. It is a manuscript of Yan Zhenqing’s letter to Guo Yingyi, Prince of Dingxiang. Yan Zhenqing (709‒85) was a renowned calligrapher and high official of the Tang dynasty. The letter addresses the issue of seating protocol for various civilian and military officials at court banquets. As it happens, Guo, in order to curry favor with the eunuch official Yu Chao’en, had twice placed him at the head table. This letter is representative of Yan Zhenqing’s calligraphy in running script, but the original no longer exists. During the Song dynasty, An Shiwen created a stele reproducing the letter on stone in Xi’an, Shaanxi, which is now in the Forest of Stone Steles Museum in Xi’an. Presented here is a Song dynasty rubbing, originally in the collection of Liang Qichao (1873‒1929), the late-Qing scholar and reformer. After it was bound in accordion format, he wrote the title. It also has impressions of his seals. Among them are Deyu, Baomizhai, Yinbingshi, Borong, Yunqingguan, and Haishan Xianguan. It has inscriptions by Cheng Yaotian, Liang Qichao, Weng Fanggang, and others.

Last updated: August 31, 2017