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Chinese calligraphy – Shu Fa

calligraphy materials

calligraphy materials

Four Arts of the Chinese Scholar, four basic skills and disciplines:

  • Hua — painting
  • Qin — stringed musical instrument
  • Qi — strategic boardgame
  • Shu — calligraphy

Four Treasures of the Study

  • ink brush
  • ink stick
  • paper
  • ink stone

Shu Fa

Written Chinese (text below from Wikipedia)

Written Chinese is not based predominantly on an alphabet or a compact syllabary. Instead, Chinese characters are glyphs whose components may depict objects or represent abstract notions. Occasionally, a character consists of only one component; more commonly, two or more components are combined, using a variety of different principles, to form more complex characters.

Pictographs, in which the character is a graphical depiction of the object it denotes.

Ideographs, in which the character represents an abstract notion.

Logical aggregates, in which two or more parts are used for their meaning. This yields a composite meaning, which is then applied to the new character.

Phonetic complexes, in which one part—often called the radical—indicates the general semantic category of the character (such as water-related or eye-related), and the other part is another character, used for its phonetic value.

The vast majority of Chinese characters (about 95 percent) are constructed as either logical aggregates or, more often, phonetic complexes.

How to Hold a Brush (very short video)

The Eight Strokes of Han Characters

The Eight Strokes of Han Characters

The Writing Brush Stroke

The 8 basic strokes (8 stroke shapes in 5 basic and compound strokes — see image on right), extract from 永, “eternity”.

  • the Diǎn 點, is a dot.

Filled from the top, to the bottom, traditionally made by “couching” the brush on the page.

  • the Héng 横, is horizontal.

Filled from left to right, the same way the Latin letters A, B,C,D are written.

  • the Shù 豎, is vertical-falling.

The brush begins by a dot on top, then falls downward.

  • the Gōu 鉤, ending another stroke, is a sharp change of direction either down (after a Heng) or left (after a Shù).
  • the Tí 提, is a flick up and rightwards
  • the Wān 彎, follows a concave path on the left or on the right
  • the Piě 撇, is a falling leftwards (with a slight curve)
  • the Nà 捺, is falling rightwards (with an emphasis at the end of the stroke)

Stroke order

1. Write from top to bottom, and left to right.
2. Horizontal before vertical
3. Character-spanning strokes last
4. Diagonals right-to-left before diagonals left-to-right
5. Center before outside in vertically symmetrical characters
6. Enclosures before contents
7. Left vertical before enclosing
8. Bottom enclosures last
9. Dots and minor strokes last

Basic Stroke of Chinese Calligraphy Kai Shu: Left Diagonal

Model Books: tracing sheets and video