More Chinese Sages in History

Painting of Wang Xizhi by Qian Xuan (A.D. 1235-1305). (Image:  wikimedia  /  CC0 1.0)
Painting of Wang Xizhi by Qian Xuan (A.D. 1235-1305). (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

The Sage of Calligraphy, Wang Xizhi

Wang Xizhi was the most famous calligrapher in Chinese history. His work Preface to the Poems Collected from the Orchid Pavilion is among the best known pieces of calligraphy in Chinese history. He created a unique style, which absorbed the essence of calligraphic works during the Jin Dynasty (265-420), and has been influential in Japanese calligraphy. People describe his calligraphy as “unfettered, like floating clouds; vigorous, like swimming dragons,” and esteem him as the Sage of Calligraphy.

The Sage of Chinese Painting, Wu Daozi

Wu Daozi was a famous artist in the Tang Dynasty, considered one of “the Masters of the Seventh Century” by Michael Sullivan, an art historian and Western pioneer of modern Chinese art history and criticism.

Wu’s paintings have a strong sense of dimension. He was especially good at painting figures. He used different thicknesses of color to show different tones of flesh. His painted works were as lifelike as the statues created by his artistic contemporaries. He was also good at painting Buddha statues. His paints had lifelike tones to them, and the belts on the characters in the paintings seemed to float. Wu Daozi had the reputation of having “excellent drawing skills and elegant style.” Later generations called him the Sage of Chinese painting.

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‘Eighty-Seven Celestial People’ by Wu Daozi. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

The Sage of Medicine, Zhang Zhongjing

Zhang Zhongjing, often referred as the Chinese Hippocrates, was one of the most eminent physicians during the Eastern Han Dynasty. His signature work, Treatise on Cold Pathogenic and Miscellaneous Diseases (傷寒雜病論 in Chinese), laid a solid foundation for Chinese Medicine through clarifying the concept of “holistic diagnosis and treatment.” Therefore, he is revered as the “Sage of Chinese Medicine.”

The Sage of Herbal Medicines, Sun Simiao

Sun Simiao was the great medical expert of both the Sui and Tang dynasties. His Thousand Golden Prescriptions was the earliest medical encyclopedia of China. From foundational medical concepts to various clinical fields, it contained everything, including theory, treatment methods, prescriptions, and medicine. It is considered a medical treasure that is truly worth a thousand pieces of gold. Later generations called him the “King of Medicine,” “The Immortal,” and the “Medical Saint.”

Sun Simiao was titled as China's King of Medicine for his significant contributions to Chinese medicine and tremendous care to his patients. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Sun Simiao was given the title China’s King of Medicine for his significant contributions to Chinese medicine and tremendous care to his patients. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

The Sage of Tea, Lu Yu

Lu Yu was a renowned tea expert during the Tang Dynasty. He studied tea for his entire life, and wrote the first dedicated book on tea in the world, The Classic of Tea. This work paved the way for the future study of tea. Therefore, subsequent generations have honored him as the “God of Tea,” or the “Sage of Tea.”

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Chinese Sages in History