- revised by Vyvyan Brunst
- James Cahill
[Hsü Wei; zi Wenchang]
(b Shanyin [modern Shaoxing], Zhejiang Province, Mar 12, 1521; d 1593).
Chinese painter, calligrapher, essayist, poet, and dramatist. He was born to the concubine of a minor official and was reared by his father’s second wife after his father’s death. In 1540 he passed the first test leading to higher government examinations. He was married the following year and moved with his wife’s family to Guangzhou (Canton). Xu retreated to a monastery in 1550, after the deaths of his wife and stepbrothers, and attempted the higher civil service examination but failed repeatedly. While in the monastery Xu Wei turned his energies to writing and painting, producing paintings, plays, poetry, and essays on opera. His literary reputation resulted in his appointment as personal secretary to Hu Zongxian, the commander–governor of the southeast coastal provinces, a post he held until 1562, when his patron was accused of treason and imprisoned. Between 1552 and 1561 Xu Wei four times attempted the provincial examinations, the second stage in the civil service examinations, with no success. From ...