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Chinese Calligraphy Culture Introduction


Chinese Calligraphy Culture
Chinese Calligraphy Culture

Calligraphy of China, literally "beautiful writing", has been appreciated as an art form in many different cultures throughout the world, but the stature of calligraphy in Chinese culture is unmatched. The history of Chinese calligraphy is as long as that of China itself. In China, from a very early period, calligraphy is considered not just a form of decorative art; rather, it is viewed as the supreme visual art form, is more valued than brush painting and sculpture, and ranked alongside poetry as a means of self-expression and cultivation. How one writes, in fact, is as important as what one writes.

Chinese calligraphy is also an art unique to Asian cultures. In China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, people have enjoyed appreciating and practicing Chinese calligraphy. Japan even publishes as many books about Chinese calligraphy as China does each year. In the history of China, calligraphy has always been held in equal importance to martial arts by the national leaders. Thus, most people call martial arts "the National Art of China" and some people exalt Chinese calligraphy as "the first art of China."

The earliest extant examples of Chinese writing are the inscriptions that appear on so-called oracle bones (animal bones and turtle shells) and on bronze vessels, the oldest of which date back to the Shang Dynasty. The kings of the Shang Dynasty used these objects in important divination rituals, and some scholars have argued that this early association of writing with ritual and political authority helps to account for the special status conferred upon those who could read and write.

These early inscriptions were made on the surface of an oracle bone or a bronze mold with a sharp and pointed instrument such as a knife. Before the molding, the scripts were written with brushes and ink in most cases. As a result of these processes, the Chinese characters (or "pictographs" as they are also called, but not symbols) were already rich in emotions and variations in brushstrokes and other attributes. Serious studies point out that Chinese calligraphy was born as the same time as the Chinese characters were invented or evolved. (Some sources state that the Oracle Bone and Bronze Inscriptions generally lack the kinds of linear variation and other attributes to be considered true Chinese calligraphy. This is very misleading and incorrect! In fact, many great Chinese calligraphers spend tremendous amount of time studying and emulating the Seal Style calligraphy of the Oracle Bone and Bronze Inscriptions, especially the latter. They regard those early scripts as "mature" paradigms and "paramount" models to practice Seal Style calligraphy.)

Chinese characters have a long history of evolutions. Records of formal Chinese writings date back more than 3300 years to the Shang and Zhou Dynasties. The development and spread of writing, driven by progress and growing requirements of society and the introduction of brush and ink, set the stage for the gradual evolution of the unique art of Chinese writing.

Chinese calligraphy is also an art of strokes and structures of Chinese characters, and over the centuries, different styles and scripts have been developed. From the elaborate, pictographic character and the Seal Script to the spontaneous exuberance of the Cursive Script, strokes, dots and expressions are laid down to form complex pictures of abstract beauty. Ink flows out of the Chinese brushes like notes of music, floating with cadence in a stream of intertwined rhythm and melody. The composition takes on a life of its own and attracts the viewers, even though the viewers may not understand the Chinese language and the meanings of the calligraphic writing.

History of Chinese Calligraphy Tools For Calligraphy Creation Types of Chinese Calligraphy Masters of Chinese Calligraphy

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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