Chinese Calligraphy


Chinese Calligraphy, very much like painting, formed an important part of Chinese culture. It is an art of writing scripts, referring particularly to writing Chinese scripts with a writing brush. As a work of art, Chinese Calligraphy conveys the moral integrity, character, emotions, esthetic feelings and culture of the artist to readers affecting them by the power of appeal and the joy of beauty. As Chinese traditional culture spread to other part of the world, Chinese calligraphy became a unique feature of Oriental art. Recently, in the West, more and more people have discovered the unique beauty of Chinese Calligraphy, and Chinese calligraphy, with both a practical value and an aesthetic value, is considered as the most ancient and most condensed of abstract arts.

History of Chinese Calligraphy-Chinese calligraphy has a long history dated to 4000 years ago. No one can tell exactly when Chinese written language appeared. The oldest language discovered now is Jia Gu Wen. But Jia Gu Wen is a matures written language. The language discovered before it is Tao Wen. Tao Wen is a language far more from mature. Actually it's hard to be called a language. People think there should be some written languages between Tao Wen and Jia Gu Wen. But no supporting archaeological discovery appeared so far.

With a history of four to five thousand years, the art of calligraphy is rich and profound in content. Generally, there are five major styles of Chinese Calligraphy. There are as follows:

To begin with an elegant style, the Seal Character, also called Zhuan Shu in Chinese formed in Zhou Dynasty, is calligraphy of Han Character. Today, Seal Character is mostly confined to seal carving.

The second one is Official Script (Li Shu), the traditional official style mainly dominant during the Han Dynasty 206 B.C.-220 A.D. This style of Chinese Calligraphy is characterized by its flat, neat features and its refined structure.

The third one is Formal Script (Kai Shu), the most common form for printing which is also considered to be the standard form of writing Chinese. Formal Script evolved from a solid foundation of Seal Character. For its features of neatness and orderliness, Formal Script is still commonly used today.

The fourth one is Running Script (Xing Shu), the most commonly used form of hand writing also known “running style”. It is the cursive form of Formal Script but less compact.

Finally, the fifth one is Cursive Hand (Cao Shu), the Chinese cursive style, mostly used by calligraphers for highly abstract works but also seen in everyday use.

Besides the five major styles, there are also two earlier styles no more in common use and not originally executed by brush, namely, the Jia Guwen or "oracle bone script" and the Jin Wen which were engraved on bones, shells and bronze, sometimes categorized under Zhuan Shu or Seal Character.

Chinese Calligraphy has introduced the idea of visual abstraction and spontaneous expression to the world of Chinese traditional art in a very early stage of development. As it develops, Chinese Calligraphy has been attracting much attention of many great modern Western artists who came under its influence and charm.


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