History of Chinese calligraphy : Song dynasty
(North Song, 960--1127, South Song, 1127-1179)
Song dynasty is a dynasty with flourishing culture. Unfortunately, Chinese calligraphy was weak after Tang dynasty. The direct reason is the emperors of Song dynasty didn't regard calligraphy seriously. But the reason behind this is the Confucian culture were limiting of the development of the who society of China.
There is one essential defects in Confucian culture. First is it despises science and technology. In the old China, a person could become an officer in the government by writing well. And it's the only way you can get into the noble class. So all the way in the history of China, there're plenty of great poets and writers but there're few scientists. Any nation who despises science and technology would get behind the world. This is the history lesson. Actually China had been the strongest country in the world all the way before Qing dynasty (1644-1911). But the old Chinese empire were declining from the end of Tang dynasty. Even during Song dynasty, the Chinese armies often were defeated by the minority armies in north of today's China. In 1127, the Song dynasty had to move south. It was then called South Song. Later the Chinese country Song was conquered by Mongolia. China is governed by Mongolia people. That dynasty is called Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Although Han people (that's the majority of Chinese) defeated overthrew the Mongolia government and set up Ming dynasty, another minority Man conquered the Han people in 1644 and established Qing dynasty.
Chinese calligraphy declined after Tang dynasty. There're many famous calligraphers in each dynasty. But compare to calligraphers before Song dynasty, few calligraphers can compare with them.
People say there're 4 big calligraphers in Song dynasty. They are Su Shi, Huang Tingjian, Mi Fu and Cai Xiang.
Cai Xiang (1012--1067). Zi: Jun Mo. Was born in Xing Hua Xian You (belongs to Fu Jian province today).
Su Shi (1037--1101). Zi: Zi Zhan. Born in Mei Shan (belongs to Si Chuan province today), he is a great writer, artist and calligrapher. He is actually achieved more in literature than in calligraphy.
Huang Tingjian (1045--1105). Zi: Lu Zhi. Born in Fen Ning (belongs to Jiang Xi province today), he studied Cao Shu for more than 30 years.
Mi Fu. Mi Fu is the best calligrapher in Song dynasty but unfortunately, he didn't reach the level of calligraphers in Tang dynasty. Representative calligraphy includes Fang Yuan An Ji. Calligraphy works include Fang Yuan An Ji.