Scripts

Nushu

By Beyond Calligraphy / 05/03/2010 /

Nushu (or josho in Japanese; 女書, lit. woman’s writing) is a very peculiar script, and it is so due to few reasons. Until 1983 everyone was convinced that the Chinese writing system consisted exclusively of logographic ideograms (or sinographs), i.e. han zi (漢字, or kanji in Japanese). Nushu is an ancient syllabary created by women…

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Avant-garde Japanese calligraphy (前衛書道, zenei shodou)

By Beyond Calligraphy / 05/03/2010 /

The history of avant-garde calligraphy (前衛書道, zenei shodou) begins before World War II, although its raw idea was pursued only after the war ended. Precursors of this trend were a few master calligraphers of the early 20th century, who were cultivating further what grand master Hidai Tenrai (比田井天来) initiated in the 19th century. Today he…

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Bokuseki (墨蹟, Zen calligraphy)

By Beyond Calligraphy / 05/03/2010 /

Bokuseki (墨蹟, “traces of ink”) is a calligraphy or abstract “ink painting” created by Zen Buddhist monks entranced in a meditative state. The history of Zen calligraphy goes back to the Tang (唐朝, 618 – 907 C.E.) and Song (宋朝, 960 – 1279 C.E.) dynasties of China. Since Ikkyuu Soujun (一休宗純 1394-1481), an eccentric Zen…

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Kana (かな)

By Beyond Calligraphy / 05/03/2010 /

Kana (仮名) in Japanese means “syllabary”, therefore a writing system of whose symbols or characters have a purely phonetic nature, and each of them represents a syllable. Kana in Japanese has many variations (such as hentaigana, 変体仮名 – lit. anomalous kana), though only two of them are used today in everyday communication. In calligraphy on…

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Flying white (飛白, kasuri)

By Beyond Calligraphy / 05/03/2010 /

Flying White (飛白, kasuri) is not classified as one of the major styles, and there are a few reasons for this. First, it ought to be written with a flat painting brush (although it is not imperative), and second, it can depict any of the five major styles in sho. There are many odd creations…

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Semi-cursive script (行書, gyousho)

By Beyond Calligraphy / 05/03/2010 /

Gyousho (行書, also known as walking or running style) was the last of five major styles to appear. It was the natural result of everyday handwriting. Whenever a calligrapher decided to put his thoughts down slightly faster and in more emotional manner he inadvertently laid foundations for a semi-cursive script. Gyousho is understood as a…

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Standard script (楷書, kaisho)

By Beyond Calligraphy / 05/03/2010 /

Towards the end of the Han dynasty (漢朝, 206 B.C. – 220 C.E.) and first years of The Three Kingdoms period (三國時代, 220-280 C.E.) calligraphy became a major form of art in China. Two styles matured: clerical (隷書, reisho) and cursive (草書, sousho), and a new one emerged on the horizon – standard script (楷書,…

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Cursive script (草書, sousho)

By Beyond Calligraphy / 05/03/2010 /

It is extremely difficult to place the origin of cursive script (草書, sousho) on a timeline. I reckon no one would disagree with the idea that cursive writing came to life the very moment someone decided to put their thoughts down in a hasty or careless manner. It is, however, undisputable that a prototype of…

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Clerical script (隷書, reisho)

By Beyond Calligraphy / 05/03/2010 /

Recent archeological discoveries of bamboo slips (木簡, mokkan) prove that reisho (隷書, clerical script, also known as official script) began to emerge during the Warring States period (戰國時代, 475 – 221 B.C.), long before the unification of China in 221 B.C. under the Qin dynasty (秦朝, 221 to 206 B.C.). During the later years of…

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Seal script – Small Seal script (小篆, shoten)

By Beyond Calligraphy / 05/03/2010 /

The popularity of great seal script (大篆, daiten) was further enhanced by political unrest and domestic wars between kingdoms. After the ruler of the Qin (秦) monarchy conquered the eight nations in 221 B.C., and united them under the name Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇, lit. the first Qin emperor), he introduced numerous political and legal…

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