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COMPASS MAGAZINE > September 2017


The Art of Calligraphy

By Helen Young
Translated by Anna Yang

As digital data becomes the standard, the habit of using paper and pen is being replaced by keyboards and touch screens. Yet, schools in China are pushing students from grade 3 to high school to learn calligraphy, and including calligraphy in their academic requirements, leading to a shortage of more than 500,000 calligraphy teaching positions. Japanese and Korean schools have also followed up on this trend and have designated calligraphy as a major cultural asset. Taiwan, however, has removed calligraphy lessons from the education system. Luckily, a group of scholars in Taichung is continuing to promote and pass this literary culture on to the next generations.

The Art of Calligraphy

Historic Chinese calligraphy was originally oracle bone script but later moved to seal script and then ancient calligraphy, followed by Chinese script, regular script, and semi-cursive script. History was recorded initially on writing engraved on animal shells and evolved to include bamboo, cloth and paper. These objects have marked the historic timeline with tradition, arts and the works of famous calligraphy masters dating back thousands of years.
Calligraphy skills include steeping the brush, grinding ink and practicing the strokes. If you wish to write well in calligraphy, you should do some research on Chinese history and the smooth movement of Tai Chi, which includes breathing techniques that affect fingers, wrists, arms, eyes and brain. Writing in horizontal and vertical strokes, falling and dot strokes display beauty both soft and firm. It is calming and develops personality.

There is no age limit in learning calligraphy. Lin Mao-shu, the owner of the 60-year-old Cuihuatang and Oracle Bone Scripting Association chairman, has been promoting calligraphy education and exhibitions. Calligraphy master Chou Liang-dun occasionally teaches at Taichung Literature Museum, colleges and Nantun's Dunyuan Building. If you need to prepare materials for calligraphy classes, the traditional Jheng Da Brush Shop is recommended.

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