Chinese Calligraphy For Mental And Spiritual Health
Chinese calligraphy (“Shu Fa”) is considered as the most magnificent and abstract form of art in the culture of China. Also referred to as brush calligraphy, it is a unique art of Asian culture. There are 4 basic disciplines and skills of the Chinese literati:
- Shu (calligraphy)
- Hua (painting)
- Qin (string musical instrument)
- Qi (strategic board game)
“Shu Fa” is believed to disclose one’s personality. Every “Shu Fa” stroke is permanent and irredeemable. It requires meticulous planning and a confident implementation. While executing this art form, you need to abide by the defined structure of words. But, at the same time, you can unleash your extreme creative self. This demands great skill. To bring out humanistic imagination as well as touch under a defined structure is a great art in itself.
The trick is to control the ink concentration, brush flexibility, and the assimilative power and thickness of the paper. By doing this, you can create unlimited variety of art forms and styles through Chinese calligraphy. In western calligraphy, if you use dry brush strokes and show diffusing ink blots in your paper, it is regarded an error. But in calligraphy of China, this is regarded as spontaneous creativity!
For a calligrapher, this form of art is a sort of mental exercise. It helps in increasing the coordination between the body and the mind to select the best style to express something in words. It requires discipline to achieve such coordination. On the other hand, it’s soothing too, as your inner being and your creative self becomes active.
The western world has seen two great artists – Matisse and Picasso – whose works showed the influence of Chinese calligraphy. One of Picasso’s famous quotes revealed his desire to become a calligraphy artist instead of a painter, had he been a Chinese.
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Japanese Calligraphy Tools
First of all, if you don’t know what calligraphy is, here is a three sentence summary: Japanese calligraphy (shodo) is a branch of calligraphy (visual art), using the symbols of the Japanese language (Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji). Today, there are three styles used: Kaisho, Gyosho, and Sosho. Japanese calligraphy is mainly a hobby for adults, and taught to elementary kids in Japan.
The Four Treasures of Japanese calligraphy. This is the name for the basic tools needed. Which are: Brush, Ink Stone, Ink, and Paper.
The brush (fude) is the main tool for Japanese calligraphy, although you need the other three of course! It is a tool used for both drawing and writing in ancient Japan. A traditional brush is made up of bamboo body with a head of animal hair, although other materials may be used. A brush is used over a pen or pencil simply because it is softer. Strokes with the brush are more suitable for the style of Japanese characters.The size of the brush may vary. A large one is used for the art of calligraphy, while a smaller one is used for signatures. In modern times, you can buy Japanese calligraphy pens, although you won’t get the natural look.
The ink stone (suzuri) is a tool used for ink grinding. It is not only made out of stone however, it may also be created from ceramic or clay. This tool is used to grind an ink stick into liquid ink. It comes in a variety of colors and designs. and is also bought and used for decoration.
Ink (sumi), well the ink stick, is made up of charcoal and glue. These days, ink can be bought in bottles, but it is not as durable as ink from an ink stick, very low quality. And as I stated, won’t give it that natural feel. This ink is used by the brush on paper (kami), or Washi specifically.
It is a soft paper suitable for a brush! This paper can be made up from several materials, such as bamboo, rice, wheat, gampi bark, mitsumata branches, or mulberry bark. Rice paper (hanshi) can also be used. Paperweights are a good idea to hold it steady while you work.
Whether you choose to use the Four Treasures of Japanese calligraphy, or a calligraphy pen and paper, or a brush and some bottled ink, is entirely up to you! Just practice and enjoy creating calligraphy!
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Japanese Calligraphy History
Japanese calligraphy is a visual art, using the symbols of the Japanese language (Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji).
5th century C.E. is the time period in which Kanji (Chinese characters) was fully used in Japan. By the 6th century, there were about 50,000 Kanji and 5 major styles of calligraphy, though only 3 are mainly used today. There are also a number of other styles that are not widely used, but do exist. Japanese calligraphy and Chinese calligraphy are very much alike, since it derived from Chinese calligraphy. The technique and tools are essentially the same. The styles do differ quite a bit, such as Japan’s own character system. Kana (Hiragana and Katakana).
During the Heian period, a new style of calligraphy was created, a style that made Japanese calligraphy unique from chinese calligraphy. It was first used in a poem written back in 749 C.E. Soon after, the official Japanese way of calligraphy was founded, which was known as wayo. Wayo was practiced as a Japanese art style until the mid 19th century. The founders of Wayo were the Sanseki, which translates to “three brush traces.” The three were known as: Ono no Michikaze, Fujiwara no Yukinari, and Fujiwara no Sukemasa. Michikaze served as an archetype for a Buddist temple in Kyoto, called the Shoren-in, and through this he developed another style of Japanese calligraphy, Oie. It was used for official documents during the Edo period of Japan. Yukinari (known as the master of kana) founded Sensoji (Buddist Temple) calligraphy, which later became the leading style of wayo.
Tokugawa Ieyasu became shogun in 1603, and was in power until his death in 1616. This marked the beginning of the Edo era, which was a time of peace for Japan that lasted 250 years. Japan only used a style called karayo during this time. The Daishi school focused on the study of the “eight principles of the character yong” and the and 72 types of “brush energy.” In 1664, a book was made based on these principles, which continued its development.
Hon’ami Koetsu, Konoe Nobutada, and Shokado Shojo; those three were known as the three Kan’ei Sanpitsu. Koetsu painted a backdrop of decorative and floral patterns, along with his calligraphy provided a poetic essence. Because of this unique calligraphy to Japan, he is considered one of the greatest calligraphers using the wayo style of calligraphy. Nobutada’s role in art has been highly overlooked due to his aristocracy, though he was a poet, calligrapher, painter and diarist. Shojo dedicated himself to, painting, poetry, and the tea ceremony. The end of the Edo period meant studies turned to the main three styles: Kaisho, Gyosho, and Sosho.
In modern times, in Japan, Japanese calligraphy is an elementary school subject, and in high school an elective. Several colleges do have Japanese calligraphy departments though. Western artists have also been influenced by Japanese calligraphy, and studied it as well as worked on their own art of course! Today, it is a hobby taken by many.
Lastly, there is a society in present time known as the Bokuteki-kai. This society focuses on training professional calligraphers, and the better you are, the higher you rank, eventually making you a teacher in the art of Japanese calligraphy.
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Learn Calligraphy the Easy Way
Calligraphy is an amazing art that most people admire and would love to master. When we see invitations or any media announcements beautifully printed we see the beauty of it and wish we had a skill like that. Little do people realize, it is not difficult to master and learn calligraphy. It involves only a lot of practice and patience with a whole lot of dedication.
There are a wide choice of styles in calligraphy writing. Each individual who wishes to learn calligraphy should decide on the styles that best appeal to them before practicing the art. For instance there are Arabic, Celtic, Romanian, East Asian, Western and Hebrew styles. Almost every region on this earth will have its own style of writing. Some of you may feel that you should use the style of your ancestral hometown or others may want to master more than one style. You can learn calligraphy from the simplest block style right up to the decorative symbols and writings.
There are many ways to learn calligraphy. In the beginning, you will only need a basic starter set of calligraphy pens. You can decide whether to take courses online or visit universities, high schools or even calligraphy workshops that teach this art. Some prefer to have private tuition from art teachers from universities, museums or schools. You can also consider online calligraphy tutorials or use DVDs, videos or just books to learn calligraphy. In certain areas public television stations go a long way in offering televised classes to those who are interested in it.
Calligraphy cannot be mastered overnight. Hence if you make up your mind to learn calligraphy you should first find a quiet place where there will be no disturbance, and where it is comfortable and relaxing. You should choose materials of high quality and spend much time initially practicing each style many times over, gradually learning new techniques and overcoming earlier mistakes.
Practice is the best way to learn calligraphy thoroughly. While practicing, you should keep the earlier version and the original in front of you so you can compare and see where you have gone wrong and where you have improved. Calligraphy writing is like all other skills like painting, dancing, skating and the like; it has to be practiced thoroughly with much concentration and dedication.
The more you practice the better you will learn calligraphy. For example, if you find that you are not able to get a swirl or a proper line you may find that you are either using the wrong nib or the pen holder is not in the right position. You should aim to feel like a carpenter who has mastered his own tools and knows what to do.
The best way to master calligraphy is by mastering the tools and what they are used for, then mastering the lettering and finally putting all these together and mastering the art. This is the best way to enjoy the art as a hobby and later as a profitable business.
Edward Ashcroft-Hamilton is a professional calligraphy teacher with over 25 years experience. For more great tips and advice to learn calligraphy [http://www.calligraphywizard.com/learn-calligraphy] visithttp://www.calligraphywizard.com
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How to Write Calligraphy – Tools Needed For Chinese Calligraphy
Calligraphy, from two Greek words meaning “beautiful writing,” is an ancient art form dating back as far as the Roman alphabet in 600 BC. Today, many people are still learning how to write calligraphy and using that knowledge for hobby and business.
There are two basic schools or styles of calligraphy writing. The Western Calligraphy style was developed in Europe and use ornate, rigid strokes that are regularly spaced and sized. Eastern Asian Calligraphy includes Islamic and all forms of Oriental calligraphy. This style emphasizes spontaneous, flowing strokes, with a special emphasis on the width and the weight of each stroke.
Eastern Asian Calligraphy includes Chinese Calligraphy. It is my desire to give you an understanding of what tools you will needed in writing Chinese Calligraphy. You will find that these tools are very different from those used in Western Calligraphy.
Use a fountain pen with a round tip. The round tip is very important and flat tip pens used in Western Calligraphy will not work in writing Chinese letters. The best pens are the ones whose shaft covers nearly the entire tip, giving it firm support. This is the kind of fountain pen most common in China, and you should be able to find it at several bookstores, a good stationery store or through a search online.
Chinese carbon ink (tansu moshui) is the ideal choice of it for Chinese Calligraphy. The ink is a deeper black than most inks used outside China and is in keeping with the Chinese calligraphic tradition of dark black characters on white paper. Chinese carbon ink is almost waterproof after it dries. If you cannot find carbon ink, use any black ink.
I think in learning how to write calligraphy, your choice of paper is very important. The right paper, especially for Chinese calligraphy, makes your writing much easier.
Your paper should be crosshatched or marked off in squares, with each square large enough to contain a whole character. Squares makes it easier for the beginner to produce characters of uniform size. The paper should be glossy enough that the ink dries with sharp edges and does not run. To give you an idea of the type of paper just described, search online for “Chinese calligraphy paper.”
There you have it! You now have the tools needed for the beautiful art of Chinese Calligraphy. Have a look at How To Write Calligraphy for more useful information and resources about all forms of this “beautiful writing.”
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Chinese Calligraphy: The Oriental Art
By Edyta Zabielska
There are different forms of calligraphy that can be found all over the world. However, Chinese calligraphy is something different. This Oriental form of art is like painting. What makes it stand out from others is that it helps in communication of an artist’s spiritual world by making use of the Chinese characters. The uniqueness of Chinese calligraphy also lies in its ability to convey moral integrity, aesthetic feeling, emotion and the character of the artist to all the readers.
Chinese calligraphy is essentially a technique which is used for writing the Chinese characters. Apart from this, it is also disciplinary branch of education and art that people need to learn. When looked upon as a discipline for education, it becomes necessary to learn about its evolution, development, technique and history. What we need to understand is that calligraphers are not just mere people with brushes in their hands who stroke the characters on a surface. They have the power of art and they inherit this art. For us, as readers, we need to evaluate this Oriental art, which perhaps will not be an task because; what lies in the essence of calligraphy of China is its thousands of years of vivid history, rich culture and popular myths.
What is interesting about Chinese calligraphy is that it was essentially and wholly and completely Chinese just like the chopstick. However, it became an unique feature of the Oriental art when the Chinese culture started spreading to Japan, Korea, Singapore and Vietnam. The uniqueness and the beauty of this Oriental art form is today recognized by the world and to specify, it is recognized by the West, whom we call to be learned. The western scholars have developed a peculiar approach towards this art form. They first learn the characters of Chinese language. They then study how these characters are constructed and it is through this that they try to understand calligraphy. It is through this understanding of calligraphy that they try to understand and learn the Oriental culture.
What the western scholars believe is that Chinese calligraphy is the oldest of any abstract art and that it is the most condensed one. People say that this art form has the dynamism which is present in dance, it has the rhythm which is present in music and it has the image which can be found in a painting. Tracing back the history, it can be found that China is not the homeland of calligraphy and nor is the East. The existence of this art form is profound and that it is a treasure, a true gem in the world of art. It has a history of 4-5 thousand years which is why, it is so rich and diverse.
If want to discover more about Chinese calligraphy, visit my website: www.superchinablog.com and learn more about Chinese language, culture…
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