What is Dishu?
Dishu (地书, literally writing calligraphy on the ground or writing street calligraphy) is a popular, widespread, eco-friendly, convenient and economical way to learn Chinese calligraphy in China. In some way, it is the easiest show of Chinese folk or grassroots culture. Today, writing ground calligraphy spreads nationwide. In Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and many other cities, it is widely available in many parks all the day.
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The Participants of Activity –
The writers or participants mostly are the retirees, old people and children, sometimes, many adults also join in them. Therefore, it is advisable to consider this activity as a nationwide cultural movement to save, protect, spread and pass down the tradition of China.
The Value of Cultural Education –
Usually, the excellent writers, who most are the old people, act as the calligraphy tutors to carefully teach the children how to write and what to write. Possibly, they have a relationship of grandpa or grandma and grandson or granddaughter, or they are neighbors, or even they are strangers but both love calligraphy. It is a private education or a cultural interaction.
For Healthcare and Inner Peace –
There is a common sense in China that many famous traditional Chinese doctors are also the experts of calligraphy. So this phenomenon can explain why calligraphy benefits for healthcare. Furthermore, in history of Chinese calligraphy, the calligraphers generally had a longer life than common people. The masters like:
Ouyang Xun(欧阳询, calligraphist of Tang Dynasty) with a lifetime of 84 years,
Liu Gonquan(柳公权, calligraphist of Tang Dynasty) with a lifetime of 87 years,
Wen Zhengming(文徵明, calligraphist of Ming Dynasty) with a lifetime of 89 years,
Liang Tongshu(梁同书, calligraphist of Qing Dynasty) with a lifetime of 92 years,
Dong Shouping(董寿平, a modern calligrapher) with a lifetime of 94 years,
Sun Mofo(孙墨佛, a modern calligrapher) with a lifetime of 100 years,
Su Juxian(苏局仙, a modern calligrapher) with a lifetime of 110 years.
All just tells us the calligraphy can prolong our life vividly, so it is acceptable to say calligraphy is an art of healthcare. And in theory of Chinese medicine, writing calligraphy could bring some great effects:
Firstly, calligraphy could adjust emotion and keep a harmony of body and mentality. It is a non-medicine treatment to disease.
Secondly, the words releases the inner thinking, and the calligraphy shows the inner heart, so exercising calligraphy is undoubtedly to cultivate the internality of humankind, and give a positive vitality to life.
Thirdly, calligraphy is beneficial for attaining the mental tranquility, which could strengthen the will power to avoid the harm of mental trouble to body, in this way, it has an equal effect to Qi Gong and Taiji shadowboxing
For Interpersonal Connection –
Calligraphic practice corresponds to a research of self accomplishment or improvement, this improvement modifying our perception of the world. Even if the image of the text is a highly sophisticated object, calligraphy is more a ritual thing and a lifestyle. The process of making is more important than the sign produced: a silent dialogue experiencing the subtle pleasure of discovering yourself through the movement of the brush and your own body. But here the practice is both individual and collective
Early morning parks are the stage of an essential moment of Chinese life where the need of the group, of sharing, expresses itself—notably amongst elderly people but also young adults and kids. The different practitioners of ground calligraphy refer, first of all, to the fact of being together, meeting, making friends, not staying at home, and sharing moments in a nice environment surrounded by nature. Talking about literature, commenting on a gesture or a calligraphic detail—this seems to be more important than the inscription on the ground itself. Even the debate is also interesting. This is the role of ground calligraphy for enhancing the interpersonal connection in city life.
What They Write –
As for the content they write, it is typically embodied by the traditional value and the cultural essence, generally featuring the classic and easily-remembered literary lines, historic words and philosophical proverbs. The old people usually select the highlights of the classic poems, verses and prose of Tang and Song Dynasties, even the long words of sages in pre-qin period such as Lao Zi(老子), Confucius(孔子), Zhuang Zi(庄子), Mencius(孟子) and Xun Zi(荀子). Some may choose the popular words or poems of Chairman Mao, and this is surely a sign of history. In different regions, the content they white is also different. For instance, the ground calligraphers of Hangzhou popularly write the themed poems with West Lake, and the four-character titles of ten classic scenes of the West Lake
It is actually a folk hand-in-hand way to pass down the culture to younger generation. And such a way is also vividly effective, and the process of writing or educating is always surrounded by many people. It is a public cultural education, isn’t it? So it is not only writing for leisure, but a nationwide activity for healthcare, interpersonal connection, private education and cultural succession
The Tools for Writing –
What the writers need just a relatively large square, a brush and one-third bucket of water. Generally, the brush is made by themselves, and there is no specific standard to regularize the making. Some people use sponge, some use rotted towel, some use woolen materials.
| The Travel Guide of East China
Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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