Introduction to Chinese Calligraphy



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Introduction to Chinese Calligraphy
Chinese calligraphy (Brush calligraphy) is an art unique to Asian cultures. Shu (calligraphy), Hua (painting), Qin (a string musical instrument), and Qi (a strategic boardgame) are the four basic skills and disciplines of the Chinese literati.

Regarded as the most abstract and sublime form of art in Chinese culture, "Shu Fa" (calligraphy) is often thought to be most revealing of one's personality. During the imperial era, calligraphy was used as an important criterion for selection of executives to the Imperial court. Unlike other visual art techniques, all calligraphy strokes are permanent and incorrigible, demanding careful planning and confident execution. Such are the skills required for an administrator / executive. While one has to conform to the defined structure of words, the expression can be extremely creative. To exercise humanistic imagination and touch under the faceless laws and regulations is also a virtue well appreciated.

By controlling the concentration of ink, the thickness and adsorptivity of the paper, and the flexibility of the brush, the artist is free to produce an infinite variety of styles and forms. In contrast to western calligraphy, diffusing ink blots and dry brush strokes are viewed as a natural impromptu expression rather than a fault. While western calligraphy often pursue font-like uniformity, homogeneity of characters in one size is only a craft. To the artist, calligraphy is a mental exercise that coordinates the mind and the body to choose the best styling in expressing the content of the passage. It is a most relaxing yet highly disciplined exercise indeed for one's physical and spiritual well being. Historically, many calligraphy artists were well-known for their longevity.

Brush calligraphy is not only loved and practiced by Chinese. Koreans and Japanese equally adore calligraphy as an important treasure of their heritage. Many Japanese schools still have the tradition of having a student contest of writing big characters during beginning of a new school year. A biannual gathering commemorating the Lanting Xu by Wang Xi Zhi (The most famous Chinese calligrapher in Jin dynasty, ) is said to be held ceremonially in Japan. There is a national award of Wang Xi Zhi prize for the best calligraphy artist. Not too long ago, Korean government officials were required to excel in calligraphy. The office of Okinawa governor still displays a large screen of Chinese calligraphy as a dominating decor.

In the West, Picasso and Matisse are two artists who openly declared the influence by Chinese calligraphy on their works.
You can find detail introduction in this website: http://42explore.com/calligrphy.htm

Introduction to Chinese Folding Fans

In China, the folding fan came into fashion during the Ming dynasty between the years of 1368 and 1644, and Hangzhou was a center of folding fan production. The Mai Ogi (or Chinese dancing fan) has ten sticks and a thick paper mount showing the family crest. Chinese painters crafted many fan decoration designs. The slats, of ivory, bone, mica, mother of pearl, sandalwood, or tortoise shell, were carved and covered with paper or fabric. Folding fans have "montures" which are the sticks and guards. The leaves are usually painted by craftsman. Social significance was attached to the fan in the Far East. The management of the fan became a highly regarded feminine art. The function and employment of the fan reached its high point of social significance (fans were even used as a weapon - called the iron fan, or tiě shān in Chinese, tessen in Japanese). Simple Japanese paper fans are sometimes known as "harisen". In Japanese current pop culture, Harisen are featured frequently in animation and graphic novels as weapons.

Printed fan leaves and painted fans are done on a paper ground. The paper was originally hand made and displayed the characteristic watermarks. Machine made paper fans, introduced in the 19th century, are smoother with an even texture.

Folding fans (扇子 Japanese "sensu", Chinese: "shān zi";) continue to be important cultural symbols and popular tourist souvenirs in East Asia. Geisha of all types (but maiko most often) use folding fans in their fan dances as well.



Introduction to Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival, often known as Tuen Ng Festival or Duan Wu Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar. It is also known as the Double Fifth.[citation needed] It has since been celebrated, in various ways, in other parts of East Asia as well, most notably Korea.

The exact origins of Duan Wu are unclear, but one traditional view holds that the festival memorializes the Chinese poet Qu Yuan of the Warring States Period. He committed suicide by drowning himself in a river because he was disgusted by the corruption of the Chu government. The local people, knowing him to be a good man, decided to throw food into the river to feed the fishes to prevent them from eating Qu's body. They also sat on dragon boats, and tried to scare the fishes away by the thundering sound of drums aboard the boat and the fierce looking dragon-head in the front of the boat.

In the early years of the Chinese Republic, Duan Wu was also celebrated as "Poets' Day", due to Qu Yuan's status as China's first poet of personal renown.

Today, people eat zongzi (the food originally intended to feed the fishes) and race dragon boats in memory of Qu's dramatic death.

Introduction to Chinese Dragon——long()

Today, the world belongs to many different nationalities and races. Different races have different cultures and thus causing a cultural difference. For example, in China, the dragon is a symbol of power. In the past, emperors wore clothes patterned with dragons. However, in European countries, the dragon represents evil. This is what we call cultural difference. Regarding cultural difference, we should learn and understand because only then we can become more knowledgeable and well-informed.

The saying, Chinese people are the offspring of the dragon came from the ancient totem and tales.
It is said that before Huang Di's unification of central plains in China, the totem symbol for China was the bear.

After unification of the tribes, Huang Di decided to use a new form of totem; it is called Long—which means dragon. The head of the original bear and the body of a snake forms it the dragon. In fact the totem of the dragon is the combination of the father and mother tribe of Huang Di. The image of the dragon shows the history of Chinese ethnicity and the unity of Chinese people.

Then the image of dragon began to appear in a lot of pictures and form the characters. People can find the character of dragon in the ancient remains of Java and the image of the dragon in the ancient pot chips. Not long ago the archeologists found two pottery fragments in Liaoning province. One is the moving dragon and the other is stagnant. The images are very vivid in which the scales of the dragon are extremely clear.

Since the dragon became the totem of Chinese, Chinese nation is connected with dragon. Therefore,the tale for Yan Di appeared. It said that Yan Di and Yao were all born because of the dragon. If the ancestor of China is all born for the dragon, the Chinese are the interments of the dragon.



Collected by Liam

2008.6.12

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