7. Chinese Calligraphy
Chinese Calligraphy Chinese Calligraper Chinese Calligraper Tools Return to Chinese Language Choices

On to Dialects 8 ⇨
"By Order of the Emperor" Chinese Calligrapher Brushes, Ink, and Ink-stones

Writing the characters of Chinese script has become a major art form in China, where people revere traditional literacy and learning. A calligrapher utilizes the same tools and techniques as a painter. The calligrapher chooses his brush, ink ink-stone, and paper (the scholar's Four Treasures") and stands over an empty scroll imagining how best to arrange the text of a poem or quotation on the available space. Emotion and elegance go into the brushstrokes of each character, whether written in precise classical form, in running style that looks deceptively spontaneous, or in one of the many other styles developed over the centuries. Calligraphy has long been regarded as an art in its own right in China. Traditional aesthetic theory has valuated individual brush strokes according to four Qualities, which should be perfectly balanced in flawless writing:

  1. Bone: Such a feeling of strength in the strokes that it appears impossible to break them, yet without bitterness.
  2. Flesh: A well-nourished quality in the strokes, without, however, self-indulgence or fatness.
  3. Muscle: The appearance of one stroke being joined to the next by invisible ligaments, and also one character to the next.
  4. Blood: A full texture in the ink, which should resemble neither water nor sludge.