Chinese Calligraphy

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We believe that language is a representation of all that a society is and has been. It carries within its colourful folds, the vibrancy of culture, beliefs and the sentiments of its people. Learning how to read and write a language is only part of a job completed. At Yi Chinese we care about creating a holistic learning experience where we don’t equip you with just Mandarin vocabulary but integrate your learning with the entire Chinese culture. At Yi Chinese we organize Chinese calligraphy sessions from time to time, which helps students to learn how to draw Chinese strokes and character.besides, that students learn the technique of Chinese calligraphy too, under the guidance of experienced teachers.

At YiChinese student learn calligraphy which is integral part of process of learning Chinese.Let’s Learn about what is Chinese Calligraphy.

Chinese calligraphy is the writing of Chinese characters as an art form, combining purely visual art and interpretation of the literary meaning. This type of expression has been widely practiced in China and has been generally held in high esteem across East Asia.

Calligraphy is considered as one of the four best friends of ancient Chinese literati, along with playing stringed musical instruments, the board game “Go”, and painting. There are some general standardization of the various styles of calligraphy in this tradition. Chinese calligraphy and ink and wash painting are closely related: they are accomplished using similar tools and techniques, and have a long history of shared artistry. Distinguishing features of Chinese painting and calligraphy include an emphasis on motion charged with dynamic life. According to Stanley-Baker, “Calligraphy is sheer life experienced through energy in motion that is registered as traces on silk or paper, with time and rhythm in shifting space its main ingredients.Calligraphy has also led to the development of many forms of art in China, including seal carving, ornate paperweights, and ink stones.

 Chinese Calligraphy

Chinese Calligraphy

 Chinese Calligraphy

Chinese Calligraphy


In China, calligraphy is referred to as shūfǎ (書法/书法), literally ‘way/method/law of writing’; shodō (書道) in Japan (‘way/principle of writing’); and seoye (서예; 書藝) in Korea (‘skill/criterion of writing’).

Chinese calligraphy appreciated more or only for its aesthetic quality has a long tradition, and is today regarded as one of the arts (Chinese 藝術/艺术 pinyin: yìshù, a relatively recent word in Chinese) in the countries where it is practised. Chinese calligraphy focuses not only on methods of writing but also on cultivating one’s character (人品)and taught as a pursuit (-書法; pinyin: shūfǎ, rules of writing Han characters).


Ancient China

Chinese characters can be retraced to 4000 B.C. signs (Lu & Aiken 2004).

In 2003, at the site of Xiaoshuangqiao (小双桥), about 20 km southeast of the ancient Zhengzhou Shang City, ceramic inscriptions dating to 1435–1412 B.C. have been found by archaeologists. These writings are made in cinnabar paint. Thus, the dates of writing in China have been confirmed for the Middle Shang period.

The ceramic ritual vessel vats that bear these cinnabar inscriptions were all unearthed within the palace area of this site. They were unearthed mostly in the sacrificial pits holding cow skulls and cow horns, but also in other architectural areas. The inscriptions are written on the exterior and interior of the rim, and the exterior of the belly of the large type of vats. The characters are mostly written singly; character compounds or sentences are rarely seen.

The contemporary Chinese character’s set principles were clearly visible in ancient China’s Jiǎgǔwén characters(甲骨文) carved on ox scapulas and tortoise plastrons around 14th – 11th century BCE (Lu & Aiken 2004). Brush-written examples decay over time and have not survived. During the divination ceremony, after the cracks were made, characters were written with a brush on the shell or bone to be later carved (Keightley, 1978). Each archaic kingdom of current China continued to revise its set of characters.

Imperial China

On Calligraphy by Mi Fu, Song Dynasty

Poems of The four treasures in a scholar’s study (Qing dynasty)
For more than 2,000 years, China’s literati—Confucian scholars and literary men who also served the government as officials—have
been connoisseurs and practitioners of this art. In Imperial China, the graphs on old steles —
some dating from 200 BC, and in Xiǎozhuàn style (small seal script) — are still accessible.

In about 220 BC, the emperor Qin Shi Huang(秦始皇, 259–210 BC), the first to conquer the entire
Chinese basin, imposed several reforms, among them Li Si’s (李斯, 246 BC – 208 BC) character unification,
which created a set of 3300 standardized Xiǎozhuàn characters.Despite the fact that the main writing implement of the time
was already the brush, little paper survives from this period, and the main examples of this style are on steles.

The Lìshū style (clerical script) which is more regularized, and in some ways similar to modern text,
were also authorised under Qin Shi Huang.[self-published source? While it is a common mistake to believe
that Lishu was created by Cheng Miao alone during Qing Shi Huang’ regime, Lishu was developed from pre-Qin era to the Han dynasty (202 BC-220 AD).

During the fourth century AD, calligraphy came to full maturity.The Kǎishū style (traditional regular script) —
still in use today — and attributed to Wang Xizhi (王羲之, 303 CE-361 AD) and his followers, is even more regularized.
reached its peak in the Tang Dynasty, when famous calligraphers like Yan Zhenqing and Liu Gongquan produced
most of the fine works in Kaishu. Its spread was encouraged by Emperor Mingzong of Later Tang (926 CE -933 AD),
who ordered the printing of the classics using new wooden blocks in Kaishu. Printing technologies here allowed shapes to stabilize.
The Kaishu shape of characters 1000 years ago was mostly similar to that at the end of Imperial China. But small changes have been made,
for example in the shape of 广 which is not absolutely the same in the Kangxi Dictionary of 1716 as in modern books.
The Kangxi and current shapes have tiny differences, while stroke order is still the same, according to old style.

Cursive styles such as Xíngshū (semi-cursive or running script) and Cǎoshū (cursive or sloppy script) are
less constrained and faster, where more movements made by the writing implement are visible.
These styles’ stroke orders vary more, sometimes creating radically different forms.
They are descended from Clerical script, at the same time as Regular script (Han Dynasty 202 BC-220 AD),
but Xíngshū and Cǎoshū were used for personal notes only and were never used as a standard.
Caoshu style was highly appreciated during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han (140 BC−87 BC).

Styles which did not survive include Bāfēnshū, a mix of 80% Xiaozhuan style and 20% Lishu.
Some Variant Chinese characters were unorthodox or locally used for centuries.
They were generally understood but always rejected in official texts. Some of these unorthodox variants,
in addition to some newly created characters, were incorporated in the Simplified Chinese character set.

 On Calligraphy by Mi Fu, Song Dynasty

On Calligraphy by Mi Fu, Song Dynasty

 Poems of The four treasures (Qing dynasty)

Poems of The four treasures (Qing dynasty)

Hard-pen calligraphy

This way of writing started to develop in the 1900s when fountain pens were imported into China from the west.
Writing with fountain pens remained a convenience until the 1980s.
With the Reform and Open, public focused on practicing hard-pen calligraphy.
People usually use Chinese simplified characters in semi-cursive or regular style.

Printed and computer styles

Examples of modern printed styles are Song from the Song Dynasty’s printing press, and sans-serif.
These are not considered traditional styles, and are normally not written.

Gallery along history

Different scripts of 馬 / 马 (horse) along history:

Materials and tools

The ink brush, ink, paper, and inkstone are essential implements of Chinese calligraphy. They are known together as the Four Treasures of the Study. In addition to these four tools, a water-dropper, desk pads and paperweights are also used by calligraphers.


A brush is the traditional writing instrument for Chinese calligraphy. The body of the brush is commonly made from bamboo or other materials such as wood, porcelain, or horn. The head of the brush is typically made from animal hair, such as weasel, rabbit, deer, goat, pig, tiger, wolf, etc. There is also a tradition in both China and Japan of making a brush using the hair of a newborn child, as a once-in-a-lifetime souvenir. This practice is associated with the legend of an ancient Chinese scholar who scored first in the imperial examinations by using such a personalized brush.Calligraphy brushes are widely considered an extension of the calligrapher’s arm.

Today, calligraphy may also be done using a pen.


Paper is frequently sold together with a paperweight and desk pad.

Some people insist that Chinese calligraphy should use special papers, such as Xuan paper, Maobian paper, Lianshi paper etc. Any modern papers can be used for brush writing. Because of the long-term uses, Xuan paper became well known by most of Chinese calligraphers.

In China, Xuanzhi (宣紙), traditionally made in Anhui province, is the preferred type of paper. It is made from the Tatar wingceltis (Pteroceltis tatarianovii), as well as other materials including rice, the paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera), bamboo, hemp, etc. In Japan, washi is made from the kozo (paper mulberry), ganpi (Wikstroemia sikokiana), and mitsumata (Edgeworthia papyrifera), as well as other materials such as bamboo, rice, and wheat.


Paperweights are used to hold down paper. A paperweight is often placed at the top of all but the largest pages to prevent slipping; for smaller pieces the left hand is also placed at the bottom of the page for support. Paperweights come in several types: some are oblong wooden blocks carved with calligraphic or pictorial designs; others are essentially small sculptures of people or animals. Like ink stones, paperweights are collectible works of art on their own right.

Desk pads

The desk pad (Chinese T: 畫氈, S: 画毡, Pinyin: huàzhān; Japanese: 下敷 shitajiki) is a pad made of felt. Some are printed with grids on both sides, so that when it is placed under the translucent paper, it can be used as a guide to ensure correct placement and size of characters. However, these printed pads are used only by students. Both desk pads and the printed grids come in a variety of sizes.

Ink and inkstick

Ink is made from lampblack (soot) and binders, and comes in inksticks which must be rubbed with water on an inkstone until the right consistency is achieved. Much cheaper, pre-mixed bottled inks are now available, but these are used primarily for practice as stick inks are considered higher quality and chemical inks are more prone to bleeding over time, making them less suitable for use in hanging scrolls. Learning to rub the ink is an essential part of calligraphy study. Traditionally, Chinese calligraphy is written only in black ink, but modern calligraphers sometimes use other colors. Calligraphy teachers use a bright orange or red ink with which they write practice characters on which students trace, or to correct students’ work.


Commonly made from stone, ceramic, or clay, an inkstone is used to grind the solid inkstick into liquid ink and to contain the ink once it is liquid. Chinese inkstones are highly prized as art objects and an extensive bibliography is dedicated to their history and appreciation, especially in China.

Seal and seal paste

Calligraphic works are usually completed by the calligrapher applying one or more seals in red ink. The seal can serve the function of a signature.

 A Chinese calligraphy set

A Chinese calligraphy set

 Calligraphy tools

Calligraphy tools

 A seal paste with a Chinese seal

A seal paste with a Chinese seal

  An ink stick and inkstone

An ink stick and inkstone

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