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Home > Display > Gallery of Chinese Calligraphy
Gallery of Chinese Calligraphy
Calligraphy is a writing art to express Chinese characters by using brush. With an age-old tradition, Chinese calligraphy originated in the Shang dynasty and matured in the Eastern Zhou period. During the Jin, the Sui and the Tang dynasties, a number of distinguished calligraphers emerged and calligraphic exploration were elaborated. Based on the achievements of previous periods, new skills and updated artistic conception were created during the Song, the Yuan and the Ming dynasties, inspiring diversified calligraphic schools and styles. During the Qing dynasty, calligraphers absorbed their predecessors' merit, advocated model and inscription on ancient steles especially those of the Northern Wei, and created fresh styles. The masterpieces of different periods are displayed chronologically to reveal a developmental trajectory of Chinese calligraphy. Perfect combination of showcases, sensitive illumination and exhibits makes this gallery full of brilliant taste of calligraphic art.

Calligraphic art during the Seal Script period
Inscriptions on oracle bones in the Shang dynasty represented the earliest written system in China. They were first marked by a brush then engraved by knife. They displayed initial characteristics of Chinese calligraphy. Bronze inscriptions were the documents cast on bronze vessels for ceremony. Their brush strokes resembled original written characters and displayed rich calligraphic flavor. These can be regarded as the inscriptions preceding the calligraphy of Big Seal Script. The bronze inscriptions of the Western Zhou period represented the beginning of Big Seal Script. The inscriptions showed random space in style. After first Emperor of the Qin unified China in 221 B.C., the Small Seal Script became the foundation of universal script for Chinese written system, which replaced diversified scripts utilized previously. This is described as the "unification of written system" in Chinese history.
Calligraphic art during the Official Script period
The tradition of the Official Script can be traced back to the Warring States. This written system was matured during the Qin and Han dynasties. By the late Western Han , it reached a stage of great prosperity. The Official Script rejected the composing rule of "Six Scripts" for Chinese characters and set up a new foundation for Chinese written system. Inscriptions of stone tablets during the Eastern Han dynasty represented the most outstanding example of the Official Script.
Calligraphic art during the transitional period From the Official Script of the Han dynasty to the Regular Script of the Tang dynasty
Early Cursive Script appeared in the late Western Han and was transformed from the Official Script. The appearance of Running Cursive was the outcome during the pratical use of the Official Script. The period also witnessed the appearance of many master calligraphers such as father and son: Wang Xizhi and Wang Xianzhi. They were distinguished representatives of this historical transition from the Official to the Running Cursive Scripts. The Regular Script derived from the Official script. It reduced brushstrokes of the Official script and regulated early Running Cursive Script. This new script started a new era for calligraphy. During the early Tang dynasty, calligraphers such as Ouyang Xun, Yu Shinan, Chu Suiliang and Xue Ji made great contributions for the popularity of the Regular Script. Their works exemplified the convention of the Regular Script, disciplined brush control and vigorous brush strokes. Yan Zhenqing developed his own idiosyncratic Regular Script on the basis of ascendent calligraphic skill. The "Wild Cursive Script"of Zhang Xu and Monk Huai Su emerged from the Cursive Script style of Sun Guoting. Their calligraphy expressed both uninhibited vigor and unpredictable variation.
Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties -------the flourishing period of Chinese calligraphy
?The calligraphy of the early Northern Song was the continuation of the Tang tradition. During the middle and late periods, new skills and artistic flavors emerged in large number. So called "Four Masters of the Song Dynasty" were represented by Su Shi, Huang Tingjian, Mi Fu and Cai Xiang. In addition, Zhao Ji invented his own unique style named "Slim Jin". Zhang Jizhi, a calligrapher of the Southern Song, was well known for his vigorous and imposing works.During the early Yuan period, calligraphers esteemed masters of the Jin and Tang dynasties. Zhao Mengfu provided great influence on calligraphic development during this period. Thus a calligraphy style of exquisite brush strokes and graceful shape dominated entire Yuan dynasty. A steadier and more balanced style was developed by two famous calligraphers: Xianyu Shu and Yang Weizhen.During the mid-Ming dynasty, the "Wu Meng School" led by Zhu Yunming, Wen Zhengming and Wang Chong became predominant. They advocated expressive calligraphic style. By promoting the works of ancient masters, Dong Qichang created his own simple and elegant style in the late Ming Dynasty.During the reigns of Qianlong and Jiaqing, more and more stone tablets were unearthed. This period witnessed the unprecedented study and connoisseurship of inscriptions on bronzes and stone tablets. This broadened the calligraphic perspective and gave significant influence on the calligraphic works at that time. During the late Qing dynasty, calligraphers such as Deng Shiru, Yi Binshou, Zhao Zhiqian created new styles by learning the Wei stone tablets, the Han Official Script, bronze inscriptions and the scripts on the "stone drum".
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