Wizards of ink: 王羲之 (Wáng Xīzhī, 303 – 361), Part III.

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In the ninth year of the Yonghe era (永和九年, pinyin: Yǒnghé, 345 – 357 C.E.), the year of the Yin Water Ox, under the reign of Emperor Mu of Jin (晉穆帝, pinyin Jìn Mùdì, 343 – 361C.E.), at the beginning of the third lunar month (after April 20, 353 C.E.), on the first day of the month of the serpent, fourty two literati noblemen gathered at the Orchid Pavilion in Shanyin County (山陰,pinyin: Shānyīn), in order to celebrate the Spring Purification Festival (修禊, pinyin: xiūxì). One of them was Wang … [Read more...]

Blessings of the Dragon Gods

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On January 23 rd, 2012, we enter the Year of the Yang (陽, pinyin: yáng, lit. “sun”; male element Yang) Water Dragon, which appears in a 62 year cycle. It is a year I have been awaiting for a long time. Its symbolism is closely related to East Asian calligraphy, and it also gives me the opportunity to explain my pen name. Dragons in Far Eastern mythology are benevolent creatures; bearers of wisdom, power, and positive energy. Together with a phoenix, dragon’s Yin (陰, pinyin: yīn, lit. … [Read more...]

Rinsho – the magical ink time machine. Part II

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East Asian calligraphy is a very peculiar art; a life-long journey during which we learn its strict rules only to suspend them in the act of using the brush in order to write freely. Alas, without the daily practice of rinsho (臨書, りんしょ, i.e. “copying [studying] masterpieces”) all of our efforts would be in vain. Throughout years of study I have come across many ancient classics (古典, こてん, koten) and written them repetitively. Saving one’s own work from the past is invaluable, as it allows … [Read more...]

Rinsho – The Magical Ink Time Machine. Part I

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The most difficult thing for a Westerner to comprehend is how many years of diligent study of East Asian calligraphy it takes to be able to mesmerize viewers with only a few brush strokes executed within seconds. It seems so easy and effortless when a brush is swung by the rich mind of an old master. Unfortunately, not many people, including even some calligraphers, realize that those studies are based upon in-depth research of the masterpieces of ancient Masters. How often does my teacher … [Read more...]

Wizards of ink: 王羲之 (Wáng Xīzhī, 303 – 361). Part II

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Those of you who read Part I of this article already know that 王羲之 (Wáng Xīzhī, 303–361) was quite a character. There are many amusing anecdotes about him, his life and his relatives, mainly his son Wáng Xiànzhī (王献之, 344 – 386 C.E.), who will be discussed in a separate article in the near future). I chose some of the most renowned stories and will share them with you in this part of the series of articles on this great calligrapher. Wáng Xīzhī, like many calligraphers, was absent minded, … [Read more...]

Wizards of ink: 王羲之 (Wáng Xīzhī, 303 – 361), Part I.

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“He whose calligraphy could overwhelm 10,000 men”, these are the words of 刘熙载 (Liú Xīzaǐ, 1813 – 1881), a literary and art critic of the Qing dynasty 清朝 (1616 – 1636), describing the power and elegance of the calligraphy of Wáng Xīzhī. Today, Wáng Xīzhī of the Jin Dynasty (晉朝, 265 – 420 C.E.) is considered the most cherished calligrapher of all time, often referred to as the Sage of Calligraphy (書聖; Chinese: shū shèng). In Western terms, Wáng Xīzhī is to Chinese calligraphy as Michelangelo … [Read more...]

平仮名 (ひらがな, hiragana): な (i.e. “na”)

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The modern form of な comes from the cursive form of the kanji 奈 (な, na, i.e. “Nara”, “what”). Follow the progression of the different scripts shown in Figures 1 to 3 to understand its origin. Figure 1. Standard script (楷書, かいしょ, kaisho) of the kanji 奈. Calligraphy by 品天龍涙 (ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui), ink on paper. Figure 2. Semi-cursive script (行書, ぎょうしょ, gyōsho) of the kanji 奈. Calligraphy by 品天龍涙 (ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui), ink on paper. Figure 3. Cursive script (草書, そうしょ, … [Read more...]