Posted by on Oct 1, 2018 in Commemoration | 0 comments


2017/01/03 09:17:45 聯合報 文/莊靈

[Part 1 of “Han Mo Zhi Friendship”] Zhuang Ling/Invitation to eat barbecue

2017/01/03 09:17:45 United News / Zhuang Ling


My father would often need to go to Taipei for meetings. Every time he goes to Taipei, he would live with his former Beijing University classmate and lifelong old friend, Tai Jingnong, in a Japanese-style professor dormitory at the National Taiwan University located at No. 6, 18th Lane, Wenzhou Street.

臺靜農(右)與莊嚴1969年於臺府的小書齋。 攝影/莊靈
Tai Jingnong (right) and Zhuang Yan in the small study room at Tai’s residence in 1969.      Photograph / Zhuang Ling


Recently, my wife, Chen Xiasheng, carefully sorted out various inks, calligraphy, and paintings left by my father, Mr. Zhuang Yan (Mu Ling), and found that many of them were cultural relics of the Forbidden City that were still stored during this period in Wufeng Beigou (1950-1965), including letters and attachments sent to him by his friends in the literary world. Letters written by Tai Jingnong, Zhang Daqian, Dong Zuobin, Liu Yantao, Wang Zhuangwei, Kong Decheng, Hu Shi, Luo Jialun, Lang Jingshan and Lu Foting, etc., were among them. Their impromptu poems and hand-painted small paintings were all extremely splendid. This time around, as I look through them again, my eyes catch every thing I see in an instant: their deep friendship they had as close friends, their completely unrestrained style of writing and ink, as well as the scenes of their poetry and wine gatherings. We will miss our elders very much. Although these situations happened more than 50 years ago (I was only a student at the time), the luster of friendship and the delicate fragrance of culture emanating from within these ink marks have over time aged with richness and lusciousness.

這裡筆者先介紹一件臺靜農世伯在民國四十九年(1960)寄給父親的大字毛筆信函(見圖一), 原文如下:




Presenting here first is a letter written in brush calligraphic large characters (see Figure 1) sent by longtime friend, Tai Jingnong, to my father in the forty-ninth year of the Republic of China (1960). The original text is as follows:

My dear friend, Honorable Mu, I heard today from both Mr. Sun and Mr. Yu, that they have a friend who is a native of Xinjiang, who can barbecue western region style beef and mutton. The only seasonings used are pepper, chili, and white salt. Taste is delicious.

When your honorable is able to come to Taipei, please inform me first so I can inform the people of “Lishui Jingshe” to prepare. It is said that this kind of meat is far from comparable to fried pork slices in Tamsui River. Does this not make you salivate just hearing about it?

I the itinerant monk from “Xiejiao’an” will pay my respect again on October 1st (Author’s Note: “Xiejiao’an” 「歇腳庵」 is also written as 「歇腳盦」 which is the name of Mr. Tai Jingnong’s building).

圖一:臺靜農民國49年寄給莊嚴的大字毛筆信函。 攝影/莊靈
Figure 1: Tai Jingnong sent a dignified letter using brush calligraphic large characters in the forty-ninth year of the Republic of China.      Photograph / Zhuang Ling

信的文句中間還夾著兩行小字:此札書於中秋節前三日,乃於節後三日始發,殊可笑也。 七日晚又及

There are two smaller lines of characters in the middle of this letter: “This letter was written three days before the Mid-Autumn Festival, and now it is three days after the festival has started. This is so ridiculous. Seven days later for this postscript.

這封信是用三張斗方宣紙寫的,裝在一個黃褐色的傳統中式信封裡;信封上面是臺老手書的毛筆墨跡:「台中 霧峰 一號信箱 莊慕陵先生啟」 寄件人處則是:「台北溫州街十八巷六號 臺緘」。左上角貼了一張印著金門莒光樓的八角錢淺綠色郵票;上面清晰地蓋著一枚圓形黑色郵戳,「台灣/四九年十月八日/十四/台北(辛十八)」

This letter was written on three sheets of artwork rice paper, wrapped in a traditional tawny Chinese envelope; on the envelope is Tai’s handwritten brush calligraphy: “Mr. Zhuang Mulin, Box No. 1, Wufeng, Taichung” : sender’s address is: “No. 6, 18th Lane, Wenzhou Street, Taipei.” A light green stamp with an octagonal money printed with the Kinmen Chukuang was pasted in the upper left corner; clearly stamped with a round black postmark that reads, “Taiwan / October 8th of the 49th Year / 14 / Taipei (Xin 18)” [Translator’s Note: Received on October 8th, 1960, delivered on the 14th of October, from Taipei, Taiwan (Unit 18, Depot Xin)]


If I were to calculate the time period, I was still attending Taichung Provincial Agricultural College (which was restructured into the Provincial Chung Hsing University in the 50th Year of the Republic of China) in October of the 49th Year as a senior (4th Year) in the Forestry Department. At that time, our family was still living in the “Dongtian Mountain Hall” built with thick bamboo next to the warehouse in Beigou. My father should have been the curator of the Palace Museum at that time. In September of that year, due to Taiwan’s Executive Yuan, they decided to move all the cultural relics of Beigou to Wai Shuangxi in Shilin, Taipei. (In fact, the cultural relics of the Forbidden City were only moved to Shilin after the autumn of the 54th Year (1965) of the Republic of China). Whereby, my father would often need to go to Taipei for meetings. Every time he goes to Taipei, he would live with his former Beijing University classmate and lifelong old friend, Tai Jingnong, in a Japanese-style professor dormitory at the National Taiwan University located at No. 6, 18th Lane, Wenzhou Street. In his spare time, he would usually go to the second-hand bookstore on Guling Street with his old friends, patronize the familiar snack bar, or visit good friends in the art circle of Taipei together. As mentioned in the above letter, the three young painters, Sun Jiaqin, Yu Zhonglin, and Hu Nianzu (Mr. Hu is 90 years old as of this year and is still active in the painting circles on both sides of the Taiwan Strait), who are located at “Lishui Jungshe” in Lishui Street near Teacher Training College, are my father’s and Mr. Tai’s forever friends who they often go to visit. I believe what was mentioned in the letter about the Xinjiang friend being good at barbecuing beef and mutton was someone who Sun Jiaquin and Yu Zhonglin of “Lishui Jingshe” discovered and recommended them to Mr. Tai. As for the statement at the end of the letter that “Tamshui River has fried pork slices,” this should refer to the fact that back then there were a number of temporarily constructed snack bars specializing in midnight snacks on the banks of Yingqiao (formerly Kawabata bridge, which is known today as Yonghe Bridge). As for whether my father went to Taipei to taste the beautiful Xinjiang grill barbecue arranged by Mr. Tai, Mr. Sun and Mr. Yu because of this letter remains unknown!

這次我與夏生在整理的卷帙當中,還找到一幅由麗水精舍三位畫家於辛丑年(1961)合作繪製,送給父親賀年的設色斗方小畫〈歲朝圖〉(見圖二),上面就有靜農世伯的諧趣題句:「辛丑元日 麗水精舍三畫家為慕陵叟作歲朝圖 屬歇腳漢題曰 歲在辛丑 年當大有 宜酒食肉 叟健如牛」,剛好印證了那段時間父親和臺伯以及麗水精舍諸君子的深厚交誼。

This time, when Xiasheng and I were sorting the scrolls out, we also found a collaborative drawing from the three painters from Lishui Jingshe circa Xinchou year (1961) which was presented to my father to celebrate the New Year’s small paintings of colored artwork <New Year’s Day drawing> (see Figure 2). There was a humorous inscription on it written by Mr. Jingnong: “On this first day of Xinchou Year, the three painters of Lishui Jingshe created this New Year’s Day Drawing for Old Man Muling, belonging to the men of Xiejiao mentioning this Xinchou year should be a fortunate year, you should drink wine and eat meat, and be healthy as an ox for an old man,” which just confirmed the deep friendship between my father, Mr. Tai and the gentlemen of Lishui Jingshe at that time.

圖二:麗水精舍三位畫家於辛丑年(1961)合作繪製,送給莊嚴賀年的設色斗方小畫〈歲朝圖〉。 攝影/莊靈
Figure 2: Three painters of Lishui Jingshe collaborated to draw in the Xinchou Year (1961),
A small painting of colored artwork <New Year’s Day Drawing> as a solemn New Year’s greeting.     Photograph / Zhuang Ling


Whenever I read Mr. Jingnong’s invitation letter with his bold, elated handwriting, written in a brush calligraphic style, and who sent the barbecue invitation with big calligraphic letters to his old classmate friend, Zhuang Muling, who lived far away at Taichung’s countryside, I can’t help but see their friendship, which has lasted for nearly 70 years. When the two of them meet, they willfully talk about calligraphy, or indulge in pen and ink, or can be seen holding cups, drinking with each other, which makes the small study room fill with scenes of warm and peaceful cultural atmosphere. The temperament and demeanor naturally exuded by the previous generation of Chinese literati allows for my family and I to be deeply moved by their admiration and enlightenment.


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