The great calligrapher Wang Xizhi, being revered as "sage" by later generations, was born in Linyi city, Shandong province during the Eastern Jin Dynasty.
Wang Xizhi showed his potential in calligraphy when he was just seven years old. He was also quit diligent since his childhood. At one time, he liked to practice writing by the pond in his courtyard. After every finish he washed the brush pen and inkstand in the pond, until the whole pond of water was darkened. He was very liked to watch, learn from previous works of calligraphers. Even to 53 years old he was still studious in copying ancient rubbings, practiced hard day and night. After years of non-stopped hard-working, Wang trained a very steady and powerful wrist, and the written word of him was really superb.
On one occasion, Wang dropped in a friend who happened not at home, so he walked into the friend’s study room, leaving some words written on the tea table, and then left. The servant of his friend knew nothing about the left word, and wanted to erase the characters when cleaning the table. But no matter how he wiped and even washed, the traces were just indelible. Later, Wang’s friend came back, he gave the table to a wood carving artisan for lettering. To all’s surprise, a depth of one-third wood was penetrated where there was ink on it!
Wang Xizhi’s handwriting therefore is described "penetrating”. The idiom “Penetrating Portrait” denotes originally vigor calligraphy. Nowadays, it is a metaphor more often referred to profound analysis to problems or used to describe a very deep level.