Tools & Methods
When viewed as a form of writing Calligraphy has applied to it the same restrictions as any otheras it also must obey the rules of grammar and construction which make up any recognisable anduniversal language. This section will explain the basic components of calligraphy, how it is writtenand the tools used to do so.The essential instruments needed for writing calligraphy are quite different from our own. Insteadof a pen and pencil a brush is used, traditionally made of animal hair, which is bound except forone end which is fashioned in to a tip. These brushes are absorbent and the tip is then dipped intothe ink to make the writing tool. To our minds this may seem more like a paint brush and to uscalligraphy can seem more like painting than writing.Just as we must learn to form our letters properly so that everyone is able to identify them as thesame letter the Chinese must obey a strict stroke order of brush strokes so that the symbols areuniversal. The diagram opposite shows how the strokes move from top to bottom and left to left toform the completed charact
Our language is made up of letters which are then joined together to make words, however theChinese language uses a different system. Each single written unit is called a Character which isessentially a single word. A character can then be made up of several Radicals which are usuallysingle objects; an example of a radical would be the symbol for water which is shown on the left..Water is in itself a single concept meaning the subject by itself. The radical for water could then bejoined with other radicals to make complete characters, for example lake or sea. These characterswould include the radical water because it is what they are made of. Creating a character could belikened to using building blocks; separate radicals are fitted and built together to make the words of the Chinese language. The written form of our own language can be traced through a process of evolution from its very beginnings down throughOld English to the now standardised version of today. However within this there are colloquial differences and this can alsobe said of written calligraphy of which there are several types.
Oracle Bone Writing
- one of the most ancient scripts it is pictorial and shows the origins of Chinese writing.
- comes from oracle bone writing and is also known as Bronze Writing. Used for ritual and symbolicpurposes.
- Developed in China during the Hang Dynasty as an official script for records. Documents written inthis style were seen as being official.
- more individual style of calligraphy and is used for personal purposes. As it is highly personalised itis considered one of the most artistic forms.
- began in the Han period as a refinement of the cursive script.