Five months after he arrived at his place of exile in remote Huizhou in 1095, Su Shi 蘇軾 (1037–1101) received a letter from his son Su Mai 蘇邁 (1059–1119), then living in Yixing. The letter carrier was Zhuo Qishun 卓契順 (eleventh c.), a laborer at Dinghui Temple in Suzhou. Su Shi transcribed Tao Yuanming's 陶淵明 (365?–427) “Homeward I Hie” 歸去來辭 in the calligraphic style of Yan Zhenqing 顏真卿 (708–784) as a thank-you gift to Zhuo Qishun and thereby secured the latter's fame in history. This article investigates three distinct but related dimensions of Su Shi's gift giving. The author first situates Zhuo Qishun's travel in Su Shi's network of social relations, both long-standing and newly formed, in one of the most difficult times of his life. The author then critically reviews the changing narrative of the Zhuo Qishun legend up to the nineteenth century. Finally, the author relates Su Shi's gift to his practice of using calligraphic transcriptions of Tao Yuanming's works as a form of sociality as well as self-expression.

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