Song of the Traveler - Flowing Cursive Poetry Wall Scroll

Approximate Measurements

Artwork Panel: 31.7cm x 98.5cm  ≈  12½" x 38¾"

Silk/Brocade: 41cm x 159.4cm  ≈  16" x 62¾"

Width at Wooden Knobs: 50cm  ≈  19¾"

Song of the Traveler - Flowing Cursive Poetry Wall Scroll close up view

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


Song of the Traveler
A Journeyer's Song

By Meng Jiao (751 - 814 A.D.)

This is a famous poem written during the Tang Dynasty some 1200 years ago. Here are the translations:

My somewhat-literal translation...

The thread in a mother's hand,
The clothes of a traveler.
Neatly sewn before departure,
Is the wish, the care and love.
Who says one little blade of grass,
Can pay back all of the warmth and life bestowed by the sun?

Here's a translation from another source...

Through a kind mother's hands passed the thread,
That made the clothes I journeying wear.
Tightly tightly she wove them then,
Dreading year after year of no return.
Can the young grass ever repay,
The spring sun's kindly rays?

About this poem:
While the title of this poem suggests that it's about a traveler, the real meaning delves into the relationship between mother and son (or parents and offspring). The last sentence of this poem is often used by itself to talk of the relationship that grow children have with their parents. The idea being that all of the toil and trouble the parents have gone through with raising their child can never be repaid, just as the grass cannot repay the sun for the life the sun has given it.

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 calligraphy artwork...

The calligraphy 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 mulberry or blue sandalwood (tara wing-celtis) tree pulp.