The Art of Writing: Chinese Calligraphy

Chinese calligraphy is an art of self-cultivation and self-expression. It reflects the mindset and mood of the writer, and fully embodies the unique beauty of Chinese script. Today, Chinese calligraphy is enjoyed by people throughout the world. There are five writing styles of Chinese calligraphy: 1) Xiaozhuan (Lesser Seal) with standardized shape, strokes and structure, this script established the basic formation for all Chinese characters created since; 2) Clerical script — simpler and more regular in shape, it established the basic structure of most Chinese characters; 3) Standard script — evolved from Clerical script, it is straight in line, square in shape, and easy to write; 4) Caoshu script an easy-to-write form for greater efficiency; and 5) Xingshu script a simple and smooth script between Standard script and Caoshu script.

Chinese calligraphy dates from the earliest day in history, and has been widely practiced throughout China to the present day. Different from paintings, Chinese calligraphy uses Chinese characters as its vehicles of expression to communicate the beauty since calligraphy, in essence, is an abstract art. It is so abstract and sublime that in Chinese culture it is universally regarded to be the most enlightening art form.

Just as one person’s appearance differs from others, so one person’s handwriting differs from the others’. Through its unique word structures, writing styles and way of handling the brash, calligraphy, as work of art, conveys the moral integrity, character, emotions, esthetic feelings and culture of the artist to readers and charms them with appealing beauty. So it is believed among a lot of people that we can tell a person’s character through his or her handwriting.

Chinese characters evolved from pictures and signs, and Chinese art of calligraphy developed naturally from its unique writing system. Great calligraphers developed representative calligraphic styles of their times through the ages. The love of calligraphy is deeply ingrained in Chinese scholars and has been handed down to the present day. Just like Chinese qigong, the Chinese brash calligraphy can temper a person into a state in which one can apply intuition got from the daily practice to control the concentration of ink and the size of each stoke or word, Calligraphy is considered all active way of keeping oneself fit and healthy, for the practice is relaxing and self-entertaining. Historically, many calligraphers were well known for their longevity.

The modernization of writing tools has given rise to many types of calligraphy other than the traditional brush-writings, Some contemporary western artists also assimilated Chinese calligraphy into abstract art, yielding many excellent works. Today, Chinese calligraphy is still considered an elegant art form even in neighboring countries. As Chinese culture spread to Japan, Korea, Singapore and Vietnam, calligraphy has become a unique feature of Oriental art.