5th Annual (Traditional) Chinese Calligraphy Festival

An undated photo of the practice of calligraphy.

An undated photo of the practice of calligraphy.

As quoted from wikipedia.com,

“A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is ‘the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner.’  The story of writing is one of aesthetic evolution framed within the technical skills, transmission speed(s) and materials limitations of a person, time and place.”

A calligrapher may create calligraphy differing from typography and non-classical hand-lettering.  Characters are historically disciplined yet fluid and spontaneous, improvised at the moment of writing, marking itself as art in the traditional Chinese culture.  Present day, it continues to flourish in the forms of wedding and event invitations (such as ushering in the New Year), font design / typography, original hand-lettered logo design, religious art, stone inscriptions and memorial documents, just to name a few.

An example of an Oracle shell with inscriptions of the earliest Chinese characters.  This is how Chinese have passed down the legendary tale of the invention of the Chinese characters by the ancient bureaucrat, Cang Jie, 4000 years ago.

An example of an Oracle shell with inscriptions of the earliest Chinese characters. This is how Chinese have passed down the legendary tale of the invention of the Chinese characters by the ancient bureaucrat, Cang Jie, 4000 years ago.

Asian calligraphy generally use ink brushes, made by wood and horse hair, to write Chinese characters (called Hanzi in Chinese, Hanja in Korean, Kanji in Japanese, and Hán Tự in Vietnamese).  Calligraphy (in Chinese, Shufa 書法, in Korean, Seoye 書藝, in Japanese Shodō 書道, all meaning one same definition: the way of writing) is an important existing culture and art (paintings and poverb scrolls) in East Asia.

This way of art and culture has morphed into different varieties such as ink and wash painting, which consists of using similar tools and techniques.  Aside Chinese culture and art, calligraphy appear in Korean and Japanese temples and scriptures even today.

Of the art, there are two styles: cursive or hand-written styles, and printed or computer typed styles.  Cursive styles such as Xíngshū (semi-cursive or running script) and Cǎoshū (cursive or grass script) are “high speed” calligraphies with each move made by the writing tool is completely visible ranging from harsh to faint, thin strokes.  The styles are according to the order rules, creating visual effects, invented as work from the Clerical script, parallel to the Regular script during the Han Dynasty period.  However, the Xíngshū and Cǎoshū styles were restricted to personal notes, and were never accepted as the standard.

A form of the modern printed style is the Songti (style of the Song Dynasty‘s book press), among the many computer printed styles.  These sets are other styles but not accepted as calligraphic ones as they are not hand-written.  Today, due to time efficiency and convenience, the printed style is among the people’s preferred choice of style.

Traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and stabilized around the 5th Century during the Southern and Northern Dynasties.  The first version of chinese character is the traditional; the second, simplified (introduced by the KMT in 1949 for the People of China); and the third, Japanese.  Following is an example, dragon: current standard Japanese (tatsu/RYŪ), (Chinese simplified), (Chinese traditional) lóng(Mandarin), “lung4″(Cantonese).

A father teaches his son to write the word Spring in traditional Chinese calligraphy with a hair pencil during the 5th Chinese Character Festival, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009, in Taipei, Taiwan. A total of 12,902 Taiwanese people gathered to write Chinese calligraphy, hoping the event will set a new Guinness World Records of the largest number of people taking part in writing Chinese calligraphy.(AP Photo)

A father teaches his son to write the word "Spring" in traditional Chinese calligraphy with a hair pencil during the 5th Chinese Character Festival, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009, in Taipei, Taiwan. A total of 12,902 Taiwanese people gathered to write Chinese calligraphy, hoping the event will set a new Guinness World Records of the largest number of people taking part in writing Chinese calligraphy.(AP Photo)

On Janurary 1, 2009, over twelve thousand people gathered in Taipei city to attempt setting a Guinness World Record by writing calligraphy on the first day of the New Year at the Central Culture Park on Bade Road during Taipei’s fifth annual Chinese Character Festival.

Initiated by President Ma Ying-Jeou (馬英九) in 2005 as Taipei Mayor, to promote Chinese culture and traditional Chinese characters.  It was a historical tradition that a writing ceremony would take place on the first day of the new year to offer freshly printed characters to the Gods as prayers for a prosperous new year.  The traditional characters are among the oldest writing systems in the world, holding itself as a valuable asset.  Today, Taiwan is the only country left in the world, recognized to still communicate with the traditional characters, marking its uniqueness and individuality in custom and culture in the world.

According to Ma, the government launched a campaign to obtain world heritage status for Traditional Chinese characters in a bid to preserve the future.  Not only being used in Taiwan, there are other fifty million people in the world fluent in this writing system, marking itself as the more popular method compared to the simplified (used in China among 1.3 billion people).

Ma adds that it’s important to be familiarized with the writing as is a tool to understanding classical Chinese literary works, possibly narrowing the gap between both sides of the Taiwan Straight if the Chinese could be literate in the system as well.  Suspiciously enough, or perhaps ironically; as one of the sixteen guests invited to write auspicious words and usher in the Year of the Ox, Ma wrote the character han (漢), or “Chinese.” It was one of the characters assigned to the guests, marking up the sixteen-word-couplet, reading: “Genesis of stroke sheds grace on the people, Chinese culture spreads out over four seas.”

“This is really a touching moment, as over 10,000 people writing at the same time one of the most ancient written languages in human history — traditional Chinese characters,”Ma said.

Among the 12,000 participants, an illiterate 98-year-old woman, Chen-Yeah A-mei, quickly became centre of attention as she painted circles in blessing to the country and the next generation.  Her four-year-old grandson attended with her to the event, symbolising culture inheritance.  Representatives and celebrities joined the calligraphy lesson, led by Ma, a list which includes: Legislative Yuan Speaker, Wang Jin-Pyng; Taipei City Major, Hau Lung-Bin; Council of Cultural Affairs Minister, Huang Pi-Twan; Dharma Drum Mountain Master, Kuo Tung; and pop-music songwriter, Fang Wen-Shan.

President Ma Ying-jeou and more than 12,900 amateurs of Chinese calligraphy participated yesterday in a record breaking calligraphy lesson, held on the sideline of the 5th Chinese Character Festival.

President Ma Ying-jeou and more than 12,900 amateurs of Chinese calligraphy participated yesterday in a record breaking calligraphy lesson, held on the sideline of the 5th Chinese Character Festival.

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~ by Lan on 2008 TueUTC2009-01-06T07:09:28+00:00. 15.

3 Responses to “5th Annual (Traditional) Chinese Calligraphy Festival”

  1. Great post!

  2. […] “The particular pieces on display are among the most beautiful and famous works of the Ching period related to the Chinese New Year,” commented Lina Lin, curator of the upcoming exhibition, and associate researcher of the NPM’s painting and calligraphy department. […]

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