Orchid Pavilion Gathering

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The Orchid Pavilion Gathering as depicted in an 18th-century Japanese painting

The Orchid Pavilion Gathering of 353 CE, also known as the Lanting Gathering, was a cultural and poetic event during the Jin dynasty (266–420) of the Six Dynasties era, in China. This event itself has a certain inherent and poetic interest in regard to the development of landscape poetry and the philosophical ideas of Zhuangzi.[1] The gathering at the Orchid Pavilion is also famous for the artistry of the calligraphy of Wang Xizhi,[2] who was both one of the participants as well as the author and calligrapher of the Lantingji Xu (Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion). Sun Chuo also wrote a preface, which is somewhat less famous.[3]

The Orchid Pavilion Gathering of 42 literati included Xie An and Sun Chuo[4] and Wang Pin-Chih at the Orchid Pavilion (Lanting) on Mount Kuaiji just south of Kuaiji (present-day Shaoxing in Zhejiang), during the Spring Purification Festival, on the third day of the third month, to compose poems and drink huangjiu. The gentlemen engaged in a drinking contest known as "floating goblets" (流觴; liúshāng): rice wine cups were floated down a small winding creek as the men sat along its banks; whenever a cup stopped, the man closest to the cup was required to empty it and write a poem. In the end, twenty-six of the participants composed thirty-seven poems.

Modern influence[edit]

Aside from reproductions of the Lantingji Xu, other influences include the Orchid Pavilion Calligraphy College at Shaoxing University and Jay Chou's recording of a song by Vincent Fang entitled "Lántīng Xù" (蘭亭序, "Orchid Pavilion") from his album Capricorn.

Scroll copy of "Lantingji Xu"[edit]

Lantingji Xu is Wang Xizhi's most famous work, which described the beauty of the landscape around the Orchid Pavilion and the meeting of Wang Xizhi and 41 literati friends. The original is lost. Some believed that it was buried with Emperor Taizong of the Tang dynasty in his mausoleum. This Tang era copy by Feng Chengsu (馮承素), dated between 627–650, is considered the best of all the subsequent copies.[5] It is located in the Palace Museum in Beijing. The scroll is meant to read right to left.


The events of the Orchid Pavilion Gathering and the ensuing poems have inspired not only generations of poets, but also painters and other artists.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Chang, 6
  2. ^ Wang Xizhi. Encyclopædia Britannica
  3. ^ Swartz, 278
  4. ^ Yip, 137
  5. ^ a b Alsop, Joseph (1982). The rare art traditions: the history of art collecting and its linked phenomena wherever these have appeared. Harper & Row. p. 231. ISBN 0-06-010091-5.