Letters 1 to 10 can be found in the following webpage.
Letter 11 to 20 can be found in the following webpage.
21 Han Shi Tie (漢時帖)
I heard that your place (Zhou Fu ‘s 周撫 in Shu 蜀) still have a Han Dynasty lecture hall (講堂). I wonder which Han Dynasty emperor built it. I even know that there are paintings on the walls depicting the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors (三皇五帝). The paintings themselves are quite exquisite and impressive. Do you have anyone there who can draw? I want to ask him to copy them down. I wonder if this is possible, please reply.
22 Zhi Cong Tie (諸從帖)
Those among our Wang clan often correspond with me, and they are more or less fine. Only Xiu Zai (修載)(Wang Qizhi 王耆之, courtesy name Xiu Zai 修載) lives far away and we communicate less often and I always think about him.
Sizhow 司州 (Wang Huzhi 王胡之, courtesy name Xiuling 修齡) was severely ill and so he did not travel west to take up his post. (Jin Mu Emperor 晉穆帝 granted him the prefect of Sizhou 司州刺史). This is regrettable news to me personally and as a government official. What you (Zhou Fu 周撫) stated earlier is already a complete picture of the situation and so I do not have anything to add. I believe other members of the Wang family have also written to you so I am not going to repeat.
23 Chengdu Chengchi Tie (成都城池帖)
When I met Zhuge Xian (諸葛顯) in the capital (Jiankang 建康), I asked him about the details of the affairs in Shuzhong (蜀中). He said that the city walls, moats, gate houses and towers in Chengdu (成都) were all built by Sima Cuo (司馬錯) during the Qin (秦) Dynasty. Are all this true? They make us think emotionally about people in the past. Please write to me so that I can increase my knowledge on these exotic (historical) facts.
24 Shan Ju Hu Tao Tie (旃罽帖)
I have received your (Zhou Fu’s 周撫) shan ju (旃罽), hu tao (胡桃 walnuts) and two kinds of medicine. I gratefully acknowledge your great kindness to me. Rong salt (戎鹽) is another thing I require. I need it when I take drug. I know from your letter that you also have been taking drug recently.
Shan ju (旃罽) may be a red woolen or felt fabric.
Rong salt (戎鹽, halite) is a mineral containing sodium chloride crystal. It is the material for Taoist alchemy.
Taking drugs was not illegal in those days as people took drugs for recreation purposes. Some people even thought that taking drugs was good to the body and mind.
Shishuo Xinyu (世說新語) mentions that Wushi powder (五石散) was a common medicine at that time. It was made of white and purple quartz (石英, 石脂, 鐘乳) and other minerals. After taking it, the whole body became hot and felt different.
(Shishuo Xinyu (世說新語) was compiled and edited by Liu Yiqing (劉義慶)(403–444 CE). It is a historical compilation of the stories of scholars, musicians, and artists during the 2nd-4th centuries.)
The phrases 方回近之，未許吾此志。can be interpreted as follows:
i Fang Hui (方回)(Wang’s brother-in-law Xi Yin 帮愔, courtesy name Fang Hui 方回) knows about the drugs and he shares different opinion to me.
ii Fang Hui shared different feelings or hallucinations after taking drug.
iii Fang Hui is against my taking of the drug. (It seems that this interpretation is less likely.)
‘Few are those who know me’ has become a saying (知我者希.則我者貴).
The phrases come from Laozi, Tao Te Ching (老子道德經), Chapter 70.
‘Those who understand me are rare, those who pattern themselves after me are highly prized. ‘(Translated by Jan Julius Duyvendak)
I do not have the chance of seeing you.
The phase 以當一笑 can be interpreted as:
i I write this letter for you to have a bit of fun. This shows the free and easy demeanour of Wei and Jin elite people (魏晋人仕的灑脱風度).
ii To other people’s criticism, I take this as a laugh.
25 Yaocao Tie (藥草帖)
If you (Zhou Fu 周撫 in Zhu 蜀) need any herbs, let me know. I will try to get them for you.
26 Lai Qin Tie (來禽帖)
Seeds of green plums (青李), laiqin (來禽 apples)，cherries (樱桃) and rigei teng (日給滕, a certain type of vines) are best packaged in cloth bags when they are sent. If they are sent in sealed packets (wooden boxes), they usually will not germinate.
27 Hu Tao Tie (胡桃帖)
Your letter mentioned the fruit tree is good. Send me some seeds and I can grow the trees here. I manage to grow the walnut trees from your place (Shu 蜀) here (in Guiji 會稽). I love planting fruit trees very much. Now I spend most of my time in the field (after retiring from my post). This is the only thing I am doing. If you can send me some seeds from your distant place, you are doing me a big favour.
28 Qing Yan Tie (清晏帖)
The text can be interpreted in 3 ways:
(I think the first one or the second one is more convincing.)
I know that you (Zhou Fu) are at a place that is tranquil, peaceful and with good harvest every year. It produces extraordinary crops that cannot be found elsewhere. The place is well known since the past. Its sceneries of mountains and rivers are equally outstanding. Why don’t you go sightseeing?
29 Yu Anji Tie (虞安吉帖)
Yu Anji (虞安吉) worked with me in the government before and I always think of him. He now holds the post of court general (殿中將軍). When he came to my place last time, he mentioned to me that he was your cousin. Despite he is elderly, he wants to work under you. I trust he is qualified to hold a position in a small county. Would you be interested in hiring him? As I care about him so I write to you from afar.
Shi Qi Tie contains 29 letters. Most of them were written to Zhou Fu (周撫) in Zhu (蜀). Zhou Fu was one of Wang Xizhi’s best friends. Xizhi lived in the time of political tumult especially during his last few years. He died in 361 CE aged 58. Many of his manuscripts were lost or destroyed in that chaotic and difficult time. Shou Fu lived in Zhu (蜀, present-day Sichuan 四川) and the place was relatively peaceful. This may be one of the reasons that those letters survived. Tang Taizong (唐太宗)(598 – 694) was an passionate collector of Wang Xizhi calligraphy during his reign, and went to extreme lengths to collect all the known extant Wang Xizhi works. Without Tang Taizong’s amazing effort, those letters might not have survived. Despite the original ink writings have long been lost and the Shi Qi Tie handed down now is an engraved version, we can still learn about the cursive writing of Xizhi. It is believed that Shi Qi Tie contains the best calligraphy pieces to start learning cursive writing.
https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%83%97%E6%84%94 郗愔 (313-384), 字方回…)
https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%83%97%E6%9B%87 郗曇 (320-361), 字重熙…)
https://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-sg/%E5%91%A8%E6%92%AB 周撫 (？-365), 字道和…)
渡邊隆男 (1988) 東晉王羲之 十七帖二種 二玄社ISBN 4-544-00514-0
祁小春 (2010) 王羲之 十七帖 ·湖北美术出版社 ISBN 978-7-5394-3712-5
龙友 王玉池 (2011) 名碑各帖完全大观•王羲之十七帖 江西美术出版上社 ISBN 978-7-5480-0666-4
俞丰 (2009) 經典碑帖釋文譯注, 上海書畫出版社, ISBN 978-7-80725-846-9
蔣勳 (2010) 手帖 南朝嵗月, INK 印刻文學生活雜誌出版有限公司 ISBN 978-986-6377-94-5
Ouyang Z S, W C Fong, Y F Wang (2008) Chinese Calligraphy, Yale University, ISBN 978-0-300-12107-0