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Chinese calligraphy is
one of the oldest art forms that still practiced to this day. Although it still
serves its more practical application-written communication-calligraphy is
appreciated by the rest of the world as something more like abstract art,
conveying more than just arbitrary words but expressions of creativity and of
the human spirit. Picasso and Matisse openly acknowledged the influence of
Chinese calligraphy in their works.
During the Tang Dynasty (618-905), Tu Meng introduced a way to describe the different calligraphy styles. They have become the standard and widely accepted criteria with which calligraphy art is described. There are 120 expressions, and the first in the list are ability, mysterious, careful, carefree, balance, unrestrained, mature, virile, grace, sober, well knit, prolix, rich, exuberant, and classic. Thus, a calligraphy art that represents the word "mountain" may be described as "a virile work in which strength is paramount."
In ancient Imperial
China, mastery in the art of calligraphy was one of the most important
considerations when appointing a person to the court. They liken the grace and
careful planning needed to execute good calligraphy with the virtues needed to
lead people. Mastering the art of calligraphy required devotion and discipline.
Also, people of noble birth and intellectuals were all expected to be masters in
the high art of calligraphy.
For more traditional people, calligraphy is not just creative self-expression. It was also an exercise that connected the mind and body to come up with the right strokes to express a thought. This intense coordination between mind and body enhanced the physical and spiritual wellbeing of the artist. And, there may be some scientific explanation for this belief, as most of the best calligraphers lived to a ripe old age.
Proud of their heritage, the Chinese preserve the art of calligraphy by passing it on to their children.
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