Art of Asia
- Introduction to China
- Imperial China, an introduction
- Archaeology and the study of ancient China
- Discoveries in Chinese archaeology
- Buddhist Temples at Wutaishan
- Chinese calligraphy, an introduction
- Decoding Chinese calligraphy
- Appreciating Chinese calligraphy
- Ascending the Heron Tower written in cursive script
Appreciating Chinese calligraphy
Discover the art of Chinese calligraphy. Try your hand at brushpainting in this digital interactive. Created by Asian Art Museum.
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- Do calligraphers make a living from their work, or is it more of a hobby?(11 votes)
- It's usually just a hobby but there are some calligraphers who do make it a living, especially the famous calligraphers :-)(13 votes)
- I've noticed that the Japanese culture was also influenced by the Chinese writing and it's art of calligraphy. What other cultures were affected by the art of Chinese Calligraphy?(5 votes)
- Well, prior to the creation of the hangeul script in Korea (the one that is most commonly used today, which commonly includes circles), the Koreans commonly used a type of script they called hanja. You may recognize that hanja sounds similar to the Japanese kanji, and you would be right; they are both based on the Chinese concept of hanzi, which uses various characters to describe things, in the place of words in the English language. Of course, there was some variation in both (the Japanese began using hiragana, etc.), but for a long time all three civilizations used a nearly identical written language.(3 votes)
- Do China and Japan use the same style today?
Was there a time in the past that China and Japan used the same style?(4 votes)
- They use the same style but they do not use the same language. Japan had taken the writing of Chinese and changed it into their own language.(2 votes)
- Is there a relationship to how an object looks like and the Chinese symbol for it? How about for Japanese symbols?(3 votes)
- Many of the characters are based on pictorial resemblance, for example forest (林), person (人), hut (舎) and mouth (口). Some are more abstract, but one can still imagine the resemblance, for example bird (鳥), or fish (魚). Many of the characters have a smaller symbol contained within them (called "radicals" in English) which can signify a theme. For example mouth (口) can be found in eat (吃), drink (喝). sing (唱), and throat (喉). There are different radicals to represent metallic concepts (examples: silver 銀, steel 鋼, lead 鉛), water related concepts (examples: sea 海, lake 湖, sweat 汗), fabric related concepts (examples: silk 絹, cotton 綿, weaving 編) and many other themes (earth, fire, hands, feet, emotions, organs, fish etcetera).
Sometimes the radicals do not represent a concept, but are used purely to show how a character is pronounced, so even if the reader does not know the pronunciation of a particular character it is possible to accurately guess how to say it.
In Japanese, many of the kanji are the same as or similar to their Chinese counterparts, however their pronunciations are usually very different (due to the Chinese characters being retroactively applied to the Japanese language). A person who can read Chinese can see a page of Japanese writing and understand the meaning of many of the concepts, however reading it aloud would be a different story altogether, and the grammatical rules of each language make it difficult to understand more complex passages. Even complex words and concepts like traffic (交通), North Korea(北朝鮮), profession (職業) and the Universe (宇宙) are both written exactly the same in both languages, with only their pronunciation differing.(7 votes)
- How are modern words shown in Chinese Calligraphy? Are new ones invented or old ones adapted?(2 votes)
- Both. When Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County in Taiwan were combined into one entity several years ago, the incumbent mayor of the City, running to be elected mayor of the entire new thing, composed a new character made up of part of the word for County and the entire word for City. Of course, since it was new, nobody knew how to pronounce it, so it was always written with a phonetic pronunciation in parentheses beside it.(3 votes)
- why is chineese the hardest language to learn? why? why? why dose it have to be?:((2 votes)
- Chinese is considered a difficult language to learn as instead of letters phonetically making words it has a different character for each word. Also, it has been in use for around four thousand years, and is getting more complicated all the time (see2:43and1:57.)(3 votes)
- Does each character have a different meaning?(2 votes)
- yes and no. yes each character has a different meaning but there are different ways to write it. the traditional way uses much more strokes and is more complicated. the simpler version uses less strokes and is what most people use today(2 votes)
- do calligraphers have apprentices? where would one be able to learn the art of calligraphy?(2 votes)
- and you could buy some thick brush pens or calligraphy brush and ink. i don't think using paint brushes will work. and also the ink is quite dark black. but on the other hand, you can buy brush pens, but the size might be too small.(2 votes)
- How do we decide when writing becomes a work of art?(2 votes)
- "Good" Chinese calligraphy you might relate to good handwriting: aesthetically pleasing. You might not be able to clearly read it but for example, cursive. You cant read it all the time but you know that it looks nice. In calligraphy, you need the brush pressure at certain points, and such.(2 votes)
- regarding some of the more abstract styles, I wonder, can anyone apart from another caligrapher discern what has been written?(2 votes)
- yes. because writing the letter properly is important, the calligraphy must write it very understandable.(2 votes)
"I have no desire for wealth or noble rank. My only love is for those letters from the brushes of the men of antiquity." Mi Fu, 11th century. Appreciating Chinese calligraphy without being able to read Chinese may sound difficult. What is one to look for? Everyone can appreciate the abstract quality of the line in Chinese calligraphy. The energy present at the moment of writing is visible in the finished piece. Changes of speed and force in the handling of the brush create a rhythm which observers can follow, almost like the moves of a dance. Red seals contrast with the black ink and enliven the composition. They are not only the seals of the artist, but of owners and collectors as well. The more is esteemed a piece, the greater number of seals can be found. Brush, paper, ink, and ink stone were called, "The Four Treasures" of the scholar's studio. To be able to compose poetry and write calligraphy was an ideal most learned Chinese strove to achieve. John Way [Wei Le Tang, 魏樂唐] has been practicing the art of writing for most of his life. He is one of the contemporary masters of calligraphy. Here, Mr. Way is writing the character for "tiger" in four of the major styles of calligraphy. In the oldest style, which is almost 4,000 years old, the tiger is still easily recognizable. Several hundred years later, the character has evolved into a completely abstract shape. The character fits neatly into an imaginary square. Each stroke is executed carefully. When written quickly, strokes blend together and the character becomes almost illegible, but very dramatic. Many calligraphers favor this style because of its expressive qualities. The last style to be developed originated around 2100 years ago. It is the style used in everyday writing, even for neon signs in bustling cities. All these styles are still practiced today. This makes Chinese the oldest writing in continuous use, with a history spanning almost 4,000 years. But not every written Chinese character is a piece of art. It takes many years of training and copying of ancient examples to become a calligrapher. When executed by a true master, calligraphy is not only beautiful writing, but the way it is written offers a glimpse of the character and temperament of the artist. Few works of art are able to establish such an intimate relationship between the artist and the viewer, which is one reason why calligraphy has been held in such high esteem over such a long period of time.