In traditional China, no other visual art form was prized more than the art of writing or Chinese Calligraphy. The genre of calligraphy emerged at the same time as the genre of painting and both shared the same tools, the brush, and ink. Nevertheless, calligraphy was venerated as an art from much before painting. As a matter of fact, art painting was intimately allied with calligraphy in form, technique, and aim only in the Song Dynasty. After this, calligraphy was no longer seen as only a craft, but rather as a fine art.
As you would have learned in your Mandarin Classes in Singapore, the calligraphy status in China is elevated and that reflects the attitude of Chinese people toward the power of the word as scholars assumed crucial positions in society, government, and culture in pre-modern China.
The written Chinese language is very distinctive and that’s because of its unique visual form. It is not easy to learn to fluently read and correctly write Chinese because of the absence of a phonetic system or alphabet. There’s a unique symbol for every written word in the Chinese language. The unique symbol of each word, which in truth is just an abstract diagram, is also called a ‘character’. As each word’s symbol is unique, there’s only one way to learn it and that’s by memorizing it, for which you must write and rewrite the word again and again.
One must have knowledge of about 3,000 characters to be able to read a Chinese newspaper. A typical well-educated Chinese person has knowledge of around 5,000 characters. A typical professor would be familiar with no more than about 8,000 characters. In total, there are over 50,000 characters, most of which are not used.
However, the limitation of Chinese language, written Chinese that is, also becomes its strength. Written words that are formed from alphabets convey two things only: phonetic sound and semantic meaning. However, Chinese characters can convey much more than that. A character represents specific meaning, and its form is a manifestation of human energy and vital force of nature.
And therefore, in spite of having an abstract appearance, Chinese calligraphy is not abstract. Characters of Chinese language are dynamic and closely connected to kinesthetic human energy and forces of nature. However, a balanced framework contains these energies.
Chinese calligraphy conveys thought but does a lot more than that. It also demonstrates the abstract attractiveness, beauty, and seductiveness of the line. In calligraphy, there’s a perfect embodiment of three things: rhythm, line, and structure.
Chinese Calligraphy Training
Chinese Calligraphy training includes:
- Learning the correct way to handle not only the brush but also the ink
- Practicing strokes as well as lines
- Copying from outstanding calligraphy models through graph paper
- Learning the right way to raise your wrist as well as elbow when making strokes. This method is used for writing larger or medium sized characters.
- And finally lots of practice
Interested in Chinese Calligraphy? Then start to learn Chinese in Singapore. And yes, you should join regular classes and practice hard for several years to gain traction.