Collected Works of Wang Mojie: 10 Juan


Wang Mojie wen ji (Collected Works of Wang Mojie) is a collection of poetry and prose by Wang Wei, a renowned Tang poet. Wang Wei (701‒61), courtesy name Mojie, was from a prominent family of Qixian, Shanxi. He followed his father to Puzhou (west of present-day Yongji, Shanxi), settled there and became a resident of the east side of the Yellow River. In the ninth year (721) of the Kaiyuan reign of Tang he passed the highest level imperial examinations. He was given official posts, including as deputy master of music at the Imperial Music Office. Later he became an advisory official, assistant censor, and administrative assistant to the local military commander of Hexi. During the Tianbao reign (742‒56) he served at the Ministry of Personnel as a supervisory official with the titles of Langzhong and Jishizhong. When An Lushan and his rebel forces sacked the city of Chang’an, Wang was captured, taken to Luoyang, and forced to take up an official post. After the An Lushan rebellion was suppressed, during the Qianyuan reign (758‒60), Emperor Suzong restored Wang to his old position. He also was given the teaching position at the court of the Crown Prince. His last position was as deputy prime minister, thus he was also known as Deputy Prime Minister Wang. Wang Wei was multitalented and excelled in poetry and prose, painting and calligraphy, and music. His poetry is refreshing, elegant, and in various styles. Wang and Meng Haoran (689‒740) were commonly referred to as Wang-Meng. Both were representatives of the landscape school of poetry during the high Tang era. His landscape poems depict the beauty of nature in leisurely and quiet taste. His artistic excellence is revered by later generations. Su Shi (1037‒1101) of the Northern Song claimed, in his Shu Mojie lan tian yan yu tu (On Mojie’s painting of Lantian in the mist and rain), that “reading Mojie’s poetry, I see painting within poetry. Looking at his painting you see poetry within painting.” In Xu Yanzhou shi hua (Poetic history by Xu Yanzhou) Xu Kai of the Song wrote that he considered the poems of Meng Haoran and Wang Mojie “of the first rank after Li Bai and Du Fu,” both of whom praised Wang Wei’s poetry highly. Wang was a devotee of Buddhism. He modeled himself on the Mahayana Buddhist figure Weimojie (Vimalakirtinirdesa, which means a pure and unblemished person), and thus took up Mojie as his courtesy name. His works were collected and arranged by his younger brother Wang Jin; they consist of more than 400 poems and prose in 10 juan. In the Song dynasty, works of Tang authors in Sichuan frequently were reprinted, most of them derived from ancient editions. Few copies have survived, so those that did are rare and much sought by book collectors. According to Zhongguo ban ke tu lu (Illustrated catalog of Chinese block-printed editions), the Sichuan Tang collections traditionally had either 11 or 12 columns per page. The 11-column Sichuan editions were called Northern Song printed books, even though they were printed between the periods of the Northern and Southern Song. The three extant collections are Li Taibai wen ji (Collected works of Li Bai), Lu Binwang wen ji (Collected works of Lu Binwang), and this title. Among the existing collected works of Wang Wei, this is the oldest, and its research value is inestimable.

Last updated: June 2, 2016