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Chinese calligraphy means good handwriting and the study of rules and technique of writing art with brush pen. It has a long history as Chinese character. With rich contents, Chinese calligraphy uses Chinese characters as the medium to embody the artists’ spiritual world and it conveys the temperament, sentiment and culture of the artist. The calligraphy in China was even considered to be the highest and purest art form of painting. The implements were the brush pen, made of animal hair, and black inks made from pine soot and animal glue. In ancient times, writing, as well as painting, was done on silk. But after the invention of paper in the first century A.D., paper gradually replaced silk. Original writings by famous calligraphers have been greatly valued throughout China's history and are mounted on scrolls and hung on walls in the same way that paintings are.
Lantingxu (Preface to Orchid Pavilion), the Most Renowned Calligraphy Work by Wang Xi Zhi in the Jing Dynasty
Lantingxu (Preface to Orchid Pavilion), the Most Renowned Calligraphy Work by Wang Xi Zhi in the Jing Dynasty

With the evolution of script, rules and technique of calligraphy also changed. Finally, calligraphy developed into a kind of art with different styles and schools and formed an important part of Chinese culture.
The development history of Chinese calligraphy can be roughly divided into three periods. The Pre-Qin Period (before 221BC) is the first period. The Mature Period from Western Han Dynasty (206BC-24AD) to the Tang Dynasty (618AD-907AD) is the second period. The Individualistic Period from the Five Dynasties (907AD-960AD) to the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644AD-1911AD) is the third period.

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First period
Jiaguwen (Oracle Bone Inscriptions) discovered in Anyang in 1899AD was regarded as the most ancient characters in China. Inscriptions on oracle bones were widely considered to be one of the earliest forms of writing as early as 3,600 years ago during the Shang Dynasty in ancient China. The Shang people believed in ghosts and spirits and they always made divinations. These inscriptions carved on tortoise shell and animal scapulae were used to record the auspicious or inauspicious results of the divinations. The contents of inscriptions on oracle bones concerned the Shang Dynasty’s wars, agriculture, mythology, history, and so on and revealed all aspects of their daily life. Probably it is the origin of Chinese calligraphy.
Zhongdingwen also called jinwen (inscriptions on bronze vessels), appeared in the late of Shang Dynasty (1600BC-1100BC) were regarded as the development of jiaguwen. During the Shang and Zhou Dynasties, bells, tripods and vessels became ritual objects and symbols of power and social status of slave-owning aristocrats. At the beginning only the names of the owners were cast or engraved on the tripods. Later the tripods and other bronze vessels had longer inscriptions stating the usage and date of being cast. The contents might include wars, treaties, agriculture, and history. Thus the inscriptions on bronze objects grew longer, from a few characters to hundreds, from simple phrases or pictures to detailed statements and treaties and the varieties of calligraphy styles increased. At this time another form of writing called Kegouwen (tadpole script), which was painted on bamboo slips.
Dazhuan (great seal script) also appeared In the West Zhou Dynasty and it was the transitional type of jiaguwen and xiaozhuan (small seal script). Shiguwen (Stone Drum Inscriptions) appeared in the Autumn Spring and Warring State Period (770BC-221BC) is the best representative of Dazhuan. Shiguwen was so named because the characters were engraved onto the tops and sides of ten large stones shaped like drums. These drums opened an important era of Chinese calligraphy and are the first known examples of Chinese calligraphy engraved onto stone.
Xiao Zhuan: In the year of 221BC, Emperor Qinshihuang first time unified China. He ordered his minister Lisi to standardize Chinese different scripts into Xiaozhuan (small seal script). Taishankeshi (stone inscription on Mount Tai) was the best example of xiaozhuan in that period of time. Lishu (official script) also appeared in the short Qin Dynasty (221UC-206BC) but it was well developed in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD).
The second period
The second period spanned over one millennium from the Western Han Dynasty to the end of the Tang Dynasty. Calligraphy achieved great accomplishments during this period of time and became mature.
Lishu was predominant script in the Han Dynasty. The strokes of lishu are straight and angular, which was much easier than xiaozhuan. In the Eastern Han Dynasty, bafenshu was invented with the characteristic of right and left sides of a character turning against each other. The most famous calligrapher was Cai Yong with the representative work called xipingshijing (the stone classic of Xiping Emperor). The structural design of Lishu is somewhat similar to Zhuanshu. Their principles focus on the spacing between strokes. The spacing and position of strokes are well designed to render a sense of elegance and beauty. Basic features and rules of Lishu include:
If a character contains a horizontal stroke, its ending at the right side resembles a wave. This is called the Bird Tail. However, only one Bird Tail is usually allowed for one character even if that character has more than one horizontal stroke. This rule is literally translated as: “ No two bird tails will fly together.” However, we may have two Bird Tails with one less obvious than the main one.

Lishu calligraphy Work
Lishu calligraphy Work

If a character has two or three horizontal strokes, the bottom one rather than the upper one will usually be the Bird Tail to support the upper part of the character. This will render a sense of stability. Otherwise, the heavy head might collapse the character’s structure. However, if the horizontal stroke is the longer one and it happens to be in the top portion of a character, it is the Bird Tail. The shorter ones in the lower part of the character are not Bird Tails.
There are rare exceptions when a character will have two Bird Tails. This should still make the character look stable and not double-weighted.
In a Lishu work, not all of the characters will be of the same height. That is, the ratio of length of width to height may be different among several characters in a work. Calligraphers usually justify all characters to the top (“Qishang”). That means that the top strokes of characters should be in the same height.
If the stroke is “Na ” (going in a southeast direction), it will be the Bird Tail.
kaishu (regular script) became important and widely use by governmental officials and scholars from the Wei and Jin Dynasty (220AD-420AD). Zhong Yao was considered the inventor of kaishu. The regular writing of kaishu is square in form, non-cursive in style. The strokes of script consist of 8 kinds: the dot, the horizontal, the vertical, the hook, the rising, the left falling and the right falling. Later on Chinese calligraphers believed kaishu was the foundation of practicing calligraphy work.
For Kaishu writing, the character has to be tall. The ratio of length of height to width is about 3 to 2. Symmetric. Left and right sides of a character are usually symmetric. Vertical strokes are straight. Horizontal strokes are flat. Curves and circles are smooth, not rugged. Spacing between strokes is adequately and delicately designed. Strokes don’t usually vary in thickness and thinness.

Kaishu Calligraphy Work
Kaishu Calligraphy Work

Xingshu (walking hand) was a changing form of lishu. The style was created by Liu Desheng in the late of Estern Han Dynasty. A calligraphy work in Xingshu will look more smooth, connecting and faster than Kaishu, but less than Caoshu. This is why xingshu is known as Walking Style and Caoshu as Running Hand. Xingshu usually simplifies the strokes and changes the sequences of strokes from Kaishu writing. Sometimes a Xingshu calligrapher will mix some Caoshu or Kaishu with Xingshu. Wang Xizhi in the Jin Dynastry is a very brilliant Xingshu calligrapher. People called him “Sage of Calligraphy”. The inscription on Lanting Pavillion in the hand of Wnag Xizhi (321-379) was regarded as the best Xingshu calligraphy work.

Xingshu Calligraphy Work
Xingshu Calligraphy Work

Caoshu (also known as Grass Style, Running Script or Cursive Script) is the most simplified but abstract and difficult form of writing in Chinese calligraphy. It was developed almost at the same time with Li Shu. Since the Han Dynasty, Li Shu and Tsao Shu were developed and established. From the Han Dynasty to the JIN and Tang Dynasties, there were many famous Tsao Style calligraphers. Tsao Shu reached one of its peaks during the Jin Dynasty when Wang XIzhi and his son, Wang Xianzhi, were both good at this style. The father and son are referred as "the Two Wangs" in the Chinese calligraphy history. They influenced later calligraphers in each dynasty, especially for Xing and Cao Styles. Later in the Tang Dynasty, two great calligraphers Zhang Xu and Huai Su, were both reaching another peak in Caoshu.
Cao Style is generally considered the most difficult style among all five major Chinese calligraphy styles. Calligraphers specializing in Cao Style decreased in number since the Tang Dynasty. For Caoshu, especially Jincao style, the characters are executed swiftly with strokes even connected. The last stroke of fist character is always merged into the initial stroke of the second character. The characters always vary in size when writing. CaoShu is to simplify the characters. Thus a calligraphy work in Cao Style will look more smooth, connecting and faster with abrupt turning and dramatic effects.

Caoshu Calligraphy Work
Caoshu Calligraphy Work

Caoshu was divided into Zhangcao, Jincao and Kuangcao (creasy). Shiyou invented Zhangcao in the later Western Han Dynasty and Zhangzhi developed Zhangcao into Jincao and who was called “Sage of Cao Style”. In the Tang Dynasty, both Zhang Xu and Huai Su liked to write Cao style calligraphy after getting drunk. They would yell, stride, and show weird behaviors during their creation. They were peered as “Crazy Zhang & Weird Monk”. They established a Cao Style commonly referred as “Kongcao ” (“Kuang” means crazy and bold).
During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Chinese calligraphy flourished and reached its summit. From the Emperor to the common scholars almost everybody attached great importance and passion on calligraphy art. Many great calligraphers appeared such as Ouyang Xun, Liu Gongquan, Yu Shinan, YanZhenqing and so on. Their calligraphic works are still used as calligraphy textbook up to know.
The third period
After the Tang Dynasty, it was realized that only calligraphic works with unique personal style could be recognized so the calligraphy works emphasized on individualistic development. In the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Su Dongpo, Huang Tingjian, Mi Fu, Cai Xiang are noted calligraphers. In the Yuan Dynasty, Zhao Ziang’s Kaishu had great influence on the development

Calligraphy A
Calligraphy B
Calligraphy C
Calligraphy D
Calligraphy E
Calligraphy F

of calligraphy. In the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) more influential and brilliant calligraphers appeared like shining stars in the sky. Among them, Song Lian, Dong Qichang, Wen Zhengming, Jin Nong, He Shaoji, Wu Changshuo, Zheng Banqiao and Kang Youwei are very famous.

Here are a few Chinese calligraphy work on sale. If you have interest you can contact me.

From calligraphy A to calligraphy F, all these works are in the same size. The scroll is 160cm high and 45cm wide. The center is 100cm by 34cm. Each piece costs 60USD including shipping. These Chinese characters are famous aphorism .Calligraphy A means “Excellence in work is possible only with diligence”. Calligraphy B means “Business profits depend on reputation”. Calligraphy C means “Hard work brings good profits”. Calligraphy D means “Be quiet and think”. Calligraphy E means “Great virtue carries the outer world”. Calligraphy F means “Tao models itself after nature”. If you want the bigger size we can also meet your demands.

Calligraphy G
Calligraphy H
Calligraphy I
Calligraphy J

From calligraphy G to calligraphy J, all these works are in the same size. The scroll is 160cm wide and 60 cm high. The center is 100cm by 50cm. Each piece costs 70USD including shipping. These Chinese characters are famous aphorism .Calligraphy G means “If family lives in harmony, everything will prosper”. Calligraphy H means “Great reputation will win the world”. Calligraphy I means “Excellence in work is possible only with diligence”. Calligraphy J means “Accomplish something lasting by leading a quiet life”. If you want the bigger size we can also meet your demands.

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