art of calligraphy is widely practiced and revered
in the East Asian civilizations that use Chinese characters. These
include China, Japan, Korea, and formerly Vietnam. In addition to
being an artform in its own right, calligraphy has also influenced
ink and wash painting, which is accomplished using similar tools
and techniques. The East Asian tradition of calligraphy originated
and developed from China, specifically the ink and brush writing
of Chinese characters. There is a general standardization of the
various styles of calligraphy in the East Asian tradition. Calligraphy
has also led to the development of many other forms of art in East
Asia, including seal carving, ornate paperweights, and inkstones.
From the seal script was derived the clerical script; and from
the clerical script were derived both the regular script and the
Characters are often written in ancient variations or simplifications
that deviate from the modern standards used in Chinese, Japanese,
or Korean. Modern variations or simplifications of characters, akin
to Chinese Simplified characters or Japanese shinjitai, are occasionally
used, especially since some simplified forms derive from cursive
script shapes in the first place.
As katakana are derived from regular script shapes and hiragana
from characters in the cursive script, those can also be used in
In Korea, the post-war Republican period saw the increased use
of hangul in calligraphy.
The Seal Script (often called Small Seal Script) is the formal
script of the Qin system of writing, the informal script of which
was precursor to the Clerical Script. Seal script is the oldest
style that continues to be widely practiced. Today, this ancient
style of Chinese writing is used predominantly in seals, hence the
English name. Although seals (name chops), which make a signature-like
impression, are carved in wood, jade and other materials, the script
itself was originally written with brush and ink on paper, just
like all other scripts.
Most people today cannot read the seal script, so it is generally
not used outside the fields of calligraphy and carved seals. However,
because seals act like legal signatures in Chinese culture and (to
a lesser extent in modern times) Japanese culture, and because vermillion
seal impressions are a fundamental part of the presentation of works
of art such as calligraphy and painting, seals and therefore seal
script remain ubiquitous.
The Clerical Script (often simply termed lìshū; and sometimes called
Official, Draft or Scribal Script) developed from the Seal Script.
In general, characters are often "flat" in appearance,
being wider than they are tall. The strokes may appear curvy, and
often start thin and end thick. Most noticeable is the dramatically
flared tail of one dominant horizontal or downward-diagonal stroke,
especially that to the lower right. This characteristic stroke has
famously been called 'silkworm head and wild goose tail' in Chinese due to its distinctive shape.
The archaic Clerical Script of the Chinese Warring States period
to Qin Dynasty and early Han Dynasty can often be difficult to read
for a modern East Asian person, but the mature Clerical Script of
the middle to late Han dynasty is generally legible. Modern works
in the Clerical Script tend to use the mature, late Hàn style, and
may also use modernized character structures, resulting in a form
as transparent and legible as Regular (or standard) Script. The
Clerical Script remains common as a typeface used for decorative
purposes (for example, in displays), but it is not commonly written.
The Semi-cursive Script (also called Running Script, 行書) approximates
normal handwriting in which strokes and, more rarely, characters
are allowed to run into one another. In writing in the Semi-cursive
Script, the brush leaves the paper less often than in the Regular
Script. Characters appear less angular and rounder.
In general, an educated person in China or Japan can read characters
written in the Semi-cursive Script with relative ease, but may have
occasional difficulties with certain idiosyncratic shapes.
The Cursive Script (sometimes called Grass Script, 草書) is a fully
cursive script, and a person who can read the Semi-cursive Script
cannot be expected to read the Grass Script without training. Entire
characters may be written without lifting the brush from the paper
at all, and characters frequently flow into one another. Strokes
are modified or eliminated completely to facilitate smooth writing
and to create a beautiful, abstract appearance. Characters are highly
rounded and soft in appearance, with a noticeable lack of angular
The Cursive Script is the source of Japanese hiragana, as well
as many modern simplified forms in Simplified Chinese characters
and Japanese shinjitai.
The Regular Script (often called standard script or simply kǎishū)
is one of the last major calligraphic styles to develop, emerging
between the Chinese Han dynasty and Three Kingdoms period, gaining
dominance in the Southern and Northern Dynasties, and maturing in
the Tang Dynasty. It emerged from a neatly written, early period
semi-cursive form of clerical script. As the name suggests, the
Regular Script is "regular", with each of the strokes
placed slowly and carefully, the brush lifted from the paper and
all the strokes distinct from each other. The Regular Script is
also the easiest to recognize and read, as it is the script in which
most beginners learn to write East Asian scripts.
The Regular Script is usually studied first to give students a
feel for correct placement and balance, as well as to provide a
proper base for the other, more flowing styles.
Thanks to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Asian_calligraphy
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