The evolution of Chinese calligraphy | Part 7 – Clerical script 

In today's blog post, we're exploring clerical script (隶书 lìshū); a script with uncertain beginnings, which came to become the standard script of its time and subsequently, an evolutionary predecessor to modern Chinese scripts. Historians have long debated the origins of the clerical script, and as with most historical records, it is difficult to find clear and concise answers.  

Many debates focus on who invented clerical script or when the earliest usage of the clerical script was. In fact, the clerical script was informally formed during the late Qin dynasty. The name has led some historians to suggest that is was used primarily by government clerks, and developed to meet the needs of government bureaucracy. But the character 隶 (lì) also means slave or servant, and so there are claims that the script was used in relation to recorded information about slaves, or even that it was used by prisoners in forced clerical work for the government.

 This beautiful piece of calligraphy, written in clerical script, is a great example of how eligible clerical script is for those who can read modern day Chinese.

This beautiful piece of calligraphy, written in clerical script, is a great example of how eligible clerical script is for those who can read modern day Chinese.

As we discussed in the previous blog post; the small seal script became the written standard for the newly-united middle kingdom under the Qin dynasty; and during the following Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) it continued to be used formally. 

It seems that clerical script started from humble beginnings and was primarily used in an informal manner; whilst bronze script and small seal script were the official scripts of China during their respective time periods. Records indicate that similar to evolution in biology, the evolution of clerical script was a slow, gradual process. Multiple scripts existed at the same time and coevolved similar features; such as being more linear and uniform in structure.

The Clerical informal usage during the Qin and Han dynasty popularized the script among common folk and it eventually was adopted by the mainstream during the late Han dynasty, when it was the popularized method for writing and recording information. By the late Han, small seal script was reserved for the most formal of uses, such as the titles of written works and the carving of stelae (large stone tables).

 An artists depiction of the key leaders and characters during the Three kingdoms.

An artists depiction of the key leaders and characters during the Three kingdoms.

It is also interesting to note how changes in script styles also coincide with changing political powers. Clerical script usage really came into its own during the historical time period that enjoys modern day popularity, known as “The Three Kingdoms” (三国 220-280 BCE). 

As you would expect, the more recent the script is, the more closely it resembles modern day Chinese. Small seal script was the first to standardize Chinese and make it more linear and regular. This regularity is also visible in the clerical script, but its taken much further. The clerical script has a strong emphasis on horizontal strokes, and there is a lot of variance of the thickness of the strokes, due to the way that the brush is held against the paper. For this reason, clerical script is the most 'calligraphic' and the most legible ancient script; as well as the one that most closely resembles modern-day Chinese. Nowadays, the clerical script is still frequently observed in modern-day artwork, advertising and other media.  

In the images below you can compare the clerical script characters on the left, with their standard script counterparts.

 雨 (yǔ) rain

雨 (yǔ) rain

 右 (yòu) right

右 (yòu) right

Next time we will discuss the evolution of the standard script. Don't forget to check out our aunthentic scrolls at our store.

The evolution of Chinese calligraphy | Part 6 – Unification of China & Small Seal Script

Our previous blog post in this series explored how a tumultuous time in Chinese history,  the warring states period; lead to the formation of the Qin dynasty (秦朝 Qín Cháo). Today we will discuss how this dynasty, despite its short run, had long-lasting impacts on China and its culture. 

The Qin dynasty (221 BCE – 206 BCE) followed the longest dynasty in Chinese history, but ironically, was the shortest; lasting for only fifteen years. The chaos of the warring states period allowed Emporer Qin Shi Huang to unify all of the warring states for the first time in Chinese history and enabled systematical reforms to be implemented throughout this new large territory.  

Among the many reforms enforced, the new political structure took back land from the previous landlords and major projects were embarked upon; such as the beginning of construction of the Great Wall of China. Despite the developments in infrastructure and social structures, historians often consider the Qin dynasty to be a period of time where citizens were living under a tyranny backed by a powerful military. 

 An artists depiction of the military might of the Qin dynasty.

An artists depiction of the military might of the Qin dynasty.

As part of the unification of the middle kingdom, currency and measurements were standardized. But most importantly, the written record was forever changed with the formation of small seal script (小篆, xiǎozhuàn). Small seal script was characterised by being more square; notably less rectangular than the writing styles that came before it. Standardisation was important because during the previous dynasties, various written styles had been developing independently of one another; known today as the Scripts of the Six States. 

 Comparison of the character for death (死), illustrates how small script (the third character) was the first script to be standardised in stroke form and order.

Comparison of the character for death (死), illustrates how small script (the third character) was the first script to be standardised in stroke form and order.

 Comparison of the character for stone/rock (石); small script is the second character.

Comparison of the character for stone/rock (石); small script is the second character.

 Comparison of the character for real/true (实); small script is the second character.

Comparison of the character for real/true (实); small script is the second character.

Small seal script was created by the prime minister Li Si. Although Qin Shi Huang was the Emperor, Li Si still had tremendous power and could enforce his desired reforms. Li Si created the 'Three Chapters' (also known as Cangjiepian); which was a collection of 3300 characters indicating their proper form and structure. This collection, a standardised instruction manual for writing in the small seal script, had the goal of decreasing the diversity of characters that had existed from text to text, and thus improving the efficiency of trade and communication. 

We know about 'Three Chapters' from written records from that period of time, of which fragments have survived. But unfortunately, there are no existing complete copies of the 'Three Chapters'; due to it being written on paper, all copies may well have been lost or decomposed in the thousands of years since the Qin Dynasty ended. However, archaeologists have found many key examples of small seal script engravings. And to this day, small seal script remains a style of calligraphy practiced by artists in China and around the world. 

 An example of a beautiful piece of small seal script.

An example of a beautiful piece of small seal script.

Next time we will look at how small seal script was replaced with the clerical script during the Han dynasty. Don't forget to check out our store for newly added proverbs and products!

The Do's and Don'ts of Gift Giving in China 

For the uninitiated, gift giving in China can be faux par central. Without the necessary knowledge, your well-intentioned present could end up a fast-track ticket to Losefaceville.  

There are a plethora of social codes and conventions to abide by. Never ask or expect the receiver to open the gift in front of you, always present your gift well-presented, wrapped or in a gift bag, and don’t forget to pass it over with both of your hands! But before we get to the actual giving, what exactly should we buy our Chinese friends, hosts or business associates? 

We’ve put together this list of Do’s and Don’ts to point you in the right direction. The Don’ts appear to fall in to two distinct categories: gifts with inauspicious symbolism and gifts that are phonetic homonyms of other inauspicious words. 

 Avoid giving chrysanthemums to Chinese friends

Avoid giving chrysanthemums to Chinese friends

The Don'ts

  • We’ll start with the number one Don’t around - clocks. Clocks (and to some extent other time pieces) symbolize the passing of time, and ultimately our mortality. In China, the gifting of clocks means the sender wishes the receiver an un-timely death. 
  • The number four, 四 (sì), sounds a lot like the character for death, 死 (sǐ), and so gifts of items in groups of four should be avoided if possible. 

In the west, flowers tend to be a fail-safe gift option. But in China there are a few to be avoided: 

  • Plum blossom 梅花 (méihuā) is a homonym for bad luck 霉 (méi). 
  • Chrysanthemums are reserved for mourning of the dead, and should not be given as gifts. 
  • The gladiolus flower 剑兰 (jiànlán) is phonetically identical to a word meaning to ‘meet difficulties’ 见难 (jiànnán) and isn't suitable as a present.
  • Similarly, jasmine 茉莉 (mòlì), whilst a good idea to gift in tea form, should be avoided as a gift of flowers because it’s a homonymous with the a word meaning ‘no profit or prospect of earning’ 没利 (mòlì). 
  • As we’ll see below, fruit is a great gift option, but be careful not to gift pears, as the character for pear 梨 (lí) is a homonyms for the word to separate 离 (lí) and can symbolize the splitting up of your relationship. 
  • And it’s not just pears that have this symbolism. The character for umbrella 伞 (sǎn) symbolizes 'to leave' 散 (sàn).
  • Sharp objects such as knives or scissors also symbolize the severing of ties, evident in this proverb 'to make a clean break' 一刀两断 (yīdāoliǎngduàn) and are a no-no. 
  • Yet more items to avoid are those associated with funerals in China, such as candles and black or white objects (a plain white shirt for example). 
  • Furthermore, Chinese mysticism and folk lore also prohibit the gifting of mirrors, which are said to attract ghosts; dolls, as symbols of the human form are not auspicious, as well as stones or antique objects, which may be possessed by evil spirits. 
  • The final item on our list of items to avoid giving are green hats... This makes the list as a Chinese saying ‘wearing a green hat’ 戴绿帽子(dài lǜmàozǐ) implies that the wearer’s partner has been unfaithful. The phrase originated from the practice of forcing Yuan dynasty prostitutes to wear green hats. 
green hat

The Do’s  

Remember, if it’s a Chinese wedding you’re attending, its traditional to give a lucky red envelope filled with cash. But for other occasions check out some of the ideas we’re put together below. 

  • It's well known that eating is a national sport in China, so do consider gifting high-quality snacks or food items such as nuts, fruit, chocolate, cookies or even milk. But pay attention to the presentation. Choose items with elaborate packaging or gift-bags is a must. 
  • Imported items are very popular in China, so consider choosing items that are imported 进口 (jìnkǒu) when choosing alcohol, cosmetics or electronics. 
  • If you know the receiver drinks alcohol then gifting wine or beer could also be a good choice. 
  • Not a drinker? Tea is a foolproof gift idea. As with other items, consider finding something of good quality, unusual or local to your home country or place of residence. 
  • Finally, we why not consider gifting something that's personalized and enduring. Calligraphy or other art make great gifts because it can be displayed in the home or workplace where the receiver can enjoy it daily.

We hope you’ve learned a little about some of the do's and don'ts when it comes to giving gifts in China. Remember the better you know the receiver the easier it’ll be to choose that perfect gift. 

 Chinese calligrahy makes the perfect gift

Chinese calligrahy makes the perfect gift

The evolution of Chinese calligraphy | Part 5 – Examples of the bronze script in the Zhou dynasty

In our last post we discussed how the oracle bone script evolved into bronze script. Changes in the medium, specifically the shift from shells to bronze-ware during the Shang dynasty, lead to more archaeological evidence of the bronze script surviving to present day. These discoveries allowed us to deepen our knowledge of early bronze script and the lives of the people who used it. The bronze script was also used throughout the Zhou dynasty (周朝 Zhōu cháo), and it's examples of the script's development during this long period of Chinese history that we're looking at today. 

The Zhou dynasty (1046 – 255 BCE) is China’s longest dynasty. So long in fact, that it is split into two distinct time periods: Western Zhou (1046 – 771 BCE) and Eastern Zhou (770 – 255 BCE). Western Zhou was controlled by a number of emperors and the political structure they developed was successful in ruling the dynasty for 500 years. 

The Eastern Zhou dynasty includes a period of referred to today as the “Spring and autumn period”; during this time the political structure was failing to control all the states. Consequently, towards the end of the Eastern Zhou, the 'warring states period' was defined by long wars and ultimately the formation of the new Qin dynasty.

 An artists depiction of warfare during the Zhou dynasty.

An artists depiction of warfare during the Zhou dynasty.

There are few significant differences with bronze script from the Shang dynasty or early Western Zhou. There were still many irregularities with stroke length, and shape. But during the Eastern Zhou period, characters were written with increasing regularity and linearity.  

 A graph showing bronze script linearisation during the Zhou dynasty 

A graph showing bronze script linearisation during the Zhou dynasty 

In the Spring and autumn period, bronze script spread to all levels of society and enjoyed mass adoption. From the picture above we can clearly see how the script’s form during the Spring and autumn period (far right column) more closely resembles modern day Chinese (far left column). This steady simplification of the characters, coupled with a mass adoption, meant written Chinese was ready to be developed further into a more standardized written script.

Next time we will talk about how the Qin dynasty that unified China after the warring states period resulted in the standardization of many aspects of life; including a standardized Chinese script. 

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Chinese Scroll Terminology

Unsure what to call the big space above the artwork on a Chinese hanging scroll? Not sure of the terminology of the two poles at the top and bottom? When we first started commissioning calligraphy at Bestroke, we also encountered some problems arising from our lack of specialized vocabulary.

So today we've put together a visual that details some of the terminology of Chinese scrolls. Each section of the scroll has its own Chinese name, some even symbolize particular elements, such as heaven and earth, take a look:

chinese calligraphy art scroll terminology.jpg
The evolution of Chinese calligraphy | Part 4 - Bronze script

The people who lived during the Shang dynasty (商朝 shāngcháo), from 1600 to 1046 BCE, primarily lived an agricultural existence, working the land and raising livestock. Except during times of war, life was generally slow-paced and local. However, trade routes did allow merchants to trade with nearby towns or coastal cities; the most famous example being the Silk Road.    

 An artist's depiction of daily life during the Shang dynasty.

An artist's depiction of daily life during the Shang dynasty.

From an archaeological perspective, the Shang dynasty is important because it is the first period of time for which modern archaeologists can find vast amounts of physical evidence that give us clues as to the nature of people’s daily lives.  This abundance of this material is partly due to the development of bronze casting that occurred during the Shang dynasty. Whilst examples of oracle bone script carved into bone or tortoise shells were easily damaged or destroyed in pyromantic divination ceremonies, bronze artefacts were much more durable and the large-scale production of bronze-ware during the Shang dynasty has preserved many examples of the bronze script.   

Some of the oldest specimens of bronze script (金文 jīnwé) were found at the ceremonial site for the last nine kings; which featured in our previous blog post The evolution of Chinese calligraphy - Part 2. Compelling evidence from this site indicates that oracle bone script and bronze script were both used in divination ceremonies. It’s no surprise that bronze items were found at the last nine kinds site, as bronze items of the Shang dynasty were usually reserved for people of stature and weren’t common household items. 

 A beautiful example of a bronze-ware ceremonial item from the Shang dynasty.

A beautiful example of a bronze-ware ceremonial item from the Shang dynasty.

Early bronze script was initially written into wet clay; which was then cast in bronze. Later, as bronze casting technology developed, engraving directly onto bronze-ware became the primary writing technique. This technological development not only revolutionized warfare, but also provided better, more durable tools, leading to an overall improvement of day-to-day life. 

One of the most interesting features of the bronze script is that we can accurately trace the changes of its form through time. For instance, early Bronze script examples were often long pieces of text written in a narrative style. Whereas later pieces became much shorter and factual, perhaps as a result of the proliferation of reading and writing in daily life

 Close-up of bronze script on a ceremonial 'ding' vessel.

Close-up of bronze script on a ceremonial 'ding' vessel.

Strictly speaking, the bronze script is not one set writing style, but rather a collection of similar styles with their own variations that occurred throughout the Shang dynasty. Interestingly, as with the Oracle bone script, characters written in the Bronze script would be written backwards, upside-down and at different angles and still communicate the same meaning. These differences in style are especially apparent when you look at examples of writing on bamboo strips; which during this time, was the most common way of writing and recording information. Some fascinating examples of these form variations within the Bronze script will be covered in our next blog post, stay tuned! 

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Why is Chinese art and calligraphy mounted on scrolls?

In ancient civilizations all over the world, scrolls were one of the first formats used for recording large amounts of text. Before the invention of paper, papyrus was used to create long scrolls, which could be written and painted on, rolled up and stored.

In a world before the invention of the book, scrolls had many advantages over their competition - stone and clay tablets - such as portability, the speed with which ink text could be written on them and being light-weight. 

scrolls.jpg

However, since the invention of the book form we know and use to this day, the use of scrolls as a medium for the recording and distribution of information began to decline. This was in part due to the benefits codex-style books had over scrolls. Scrolls were long and had to be unraveled in order to be read. Books, in comparison, were separated by page, so indexing and page marking could begin. Having books opened at a certain page also meant books were much easier to copy. With the spread of Christianity, the ability to quickly and easily duplicate religious texts was very attractive to the Church, and this was the driving force behind the adoption of books in the west. 

Nowadays, the scroll as a medium has been almost completely replaced by books and more recently, digital media. With the exception of the Jewish Torah Scrolls (which are used today in the religion as they were thousands of years ago), it is in East Asian art and calligraphy where the use of scrolls can be found most easily.

So why are scrolls still so prevalent in Chinese art? 

The hanging scroll (立轴 lì zhóu) is a format that is commonly used to this day to present Chinese national ink painting and calligraphy. It originated from silk banners that hung vertically on walls, which date back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). By the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 CE) the hanging scrolls' aesthetic and technical conventions had been established. 

Creating a hanging scroll is seen as an art in itself. Aside from the different established sizes; brocade silk borders, hanging threads and rollers are all essential components.

 Scrolls on display at the Shanghai Museum

Scrolls on display at the Shanghai Museum

During the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 CE), book printing began in China and the technology went through various phases of development, such as folded-leaf pamphlets, back binding and stitched binding. However, scrolls as a medium for presenting art and calligraphy persisted.

Whilst books successfully replaced scrolls as a means to record and distribute information in China, the hanging scrolls as a medium for presenting and preserving art and calligraphy persists to this day precisely because of the tradition, craft, and conventions that grew up around the practice of scroll mounting over the past two thousand years.

The evolution of Chinese calligraphy | Part 3 – Oracle bone script's pictograms

In this blog post we will be looking at some examples of the oracle bone script and in particular, how it utilized pictograms to record the ancient world.

Pictograms (象形 xiàng xíng) are a category of Chinese characters that differ uniquely to the phono-semantic compound characters that make up 90% of written Chinese. Whereas phono-semantic compounds are composed of a radical, which indicates an approximation to the characters' phonetics; as well as a semantic compound that provides a sense of meaning to the character; pictograms are characters whose form is a pictorial rendering of the real-world object the character represents.

Below are some great examples of some of the oracle bone pictograms, along with their modern character counter-part.

 A collection of pictographic, oracle bone script characters.

A collection of pictographic, oracle bone script characters.

Another fantastic example is the character for home (家 jiā); the picture below illustrates how 家 originated from a drawing of a house. 

 The gradual evolution of the character, 家 home.

The gradual evolution of the character, 家 home.

As you can see from the diagram, this character's modern-day equivalent's radical (宀) resembles the roof of the house. Whilst the section below the radical evolved from a depiction of livestock, which was inseparable from the concept of 'home' in ancient, agricultural China.

There are around 600 examples of these pictogram characters in Chinese that have evolved and are still in use to this day, all of which originate from this simple and endearing script.

In this post we've learned how the oracle bone script was made up of pictograms representing the fabric of ancient Chinese life. A written language is a part of the foundation of all great civilizations, and this simple form of written record was indeed fundamental to China's development. Its from these humble beginnings that the written Chinese language was able to develop.

In our next post in this series we will examine the next stage in the evolution of Chinese calligraphy - the birth of bronze script (金文 jīén). 

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Ancient Chinese wisdom for self-improvement
meditate

Today we’re going to be taking a look at a proverb with depth - 静以修身 (jìng yǐ xiūshēn).

This four character proverb is usually translated as ‘a light heart lives long’. However, this is an English translation that feels pretty different from the meanings of the Chinese characters in the proverb. Before we have a look at its original meaning, a quick note on the phrase’s origin. 

Zhu Ge Liang (AD 181-234) was a military leader, scholar and inventor (credited with inventing, among many other things, the Chinese steamed bun 馒头 mántou!), as well as politician and prime minister of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period. The proverb first appeared in a letter Zhu Ge Liang wrote to his son filled with advice on growth, morals and learning. 

The growth Zhu Ge Liang speaks of is actually 修身 (xiūshēn), which means to ‘cultivate one’s moral character’, and so already has a much more layered and richer meaning than the mere ‘longevity’ pointed to in the English translation. 

In a previous post we mentioned that 以 (yǐ) can translate as ‘by means of’, for example, A by means of B. However, in this proverb the order of the words in play is reversed, and so the 以 (yǐ) will translate as ‘in order to’; B in order to A. 

 Artwork by Weng Zhen Xin

Artwork by Weng Zhen Xin

So, how do we cultivate our moral character exactly? Zhu Ge Liang claims that it's through 静 (jìng) – ‘stillness, calmness, quietness’. And so we can translate the proverb rather rigidly as ‘cultivate one’s moral character through stillness.’ But this 静 (jìng) also features in one of the Chinese words for meditation (静坐 jìngzuò) and so the character's meaning in the proverb may be what today's meditators would refer to as ‘presence’ or ‘mindfulness’. Which gives us a modern interpretation of the proverb as ‘self-improvement through presence’ or ‘mindfulness for personal growth.’ 

However you choose to translate this proverb, it's a brilliant example of the value ancient wisdom can bring to our modern, fast-paced lives, and the underlying truth that calmness, quietness and stillness are vital if we are to improve ourselves, is clear.

 
 
The evolution of Chinese calligraphy | Part 2 - Oracle bone script - Overview

Oracle bone script (甲骨文 jiǎgǔwén) offers the earliest forms of the written Chinese language. While 5000-year-old examples of written Chinese are contested within academia,  there is a scientific consensus on the appearance of oracle bone script as far back as 1200 BCE, during the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 to c. 1046 BCE).  

The script's name originates from the fact that the characters often appeared on bone and tortoise shells. The inscriptions were also carved onto pyromantic ceremonial items; such as vases. 

 An example of oracle bone script, inscribed on a tortoise shell.

An example of oracle bone script, inscribed on a tortoise shell.

One of the earliest examples of oracle bone script engravings, found at the Yinxu site in Henan province, were used in pyromantic ceremonies for the Shang dynasty's last nine kings. Pyromantic ceremonies were a form of divination used to find answers to questions. They would inscribe a question or series of questions onto ceremonial items; after which they were placed into a fire. Where cracks formed in the items determined the answers to the inscribed questions. Questions were often about warfare, the outcome of a hunting trip or any other unknown auspicious aspects of their lives. 

 An example of the cracks formed from the pyromantic ceremonies.

An example of the cracks formed from the pyromantic ceremonies.

In our next post we'll be looking at some specific examples of the oracle bone script and how its pictorial form evolved from drawings. 

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Do the Chinese have a romantic proverb about spit?
2fish.jpg

Well, as it turns out, yes, they do!

Xiangruyimo (相濡以沫Xiāngrúyǐmò) translates literally as ‘to moisten with spittle’, or more symbolically as ‘sharing meager resources / mutual help in humble circumstances’.

This curious proverb was first coined by Daoist author and philosopher Zhuangzi (庄子 Zhuāngzǐ, 475-221 BCC), who described being moved by the humble actions of two fish in a dried out pool. These fish appeared to be blowing wet bubbles onto each other, effectively using their spit to maintain each other’s moisture under the heat of the sun, and thus, avoiding near-certain death.


Let’s take a moment to look at the different characters in this proverb.

相 as in ‘互相’ (hùxiāng) means ‘each other’ or ‘mutual’

濡 (rú) means ‘to moisten’

以 (yǐ) is a common character in ancient Chinese and here it would translate as ‘by means of’

沫 (mò) from ‘口沫’ (kǒumò) is spittle, saliva


 

A short Chinese language cartoon about the origin of this proverb.

 

This is a much-used idiom in Chinese and is regularly used to describe couples who help each other in times of need.

Whilst the images that come to mind when we hear the word ‘spit’ might not be the most romantic, the sentiment of helping our partners in difficult times is echoed in the English language marriage vow ‘for better or for worse’.

Interested in giving this proverb as a wedding or anniversary gift? Click here to read more or add to cart below.

 
Bespoke Wedding Gift Scroll - 相濡以沫 To help each other in times of need
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The evolution of Chinese calligraphy | Part 1 - Introduction

China proudly cites a continuous cultural history that stretches back around 5000 years. 'Continuous' here, referring to the cultural items and evidence that have appeared continually throughout, and allow it to lay claim to, that long and rich history; clothing, music and calligraphy.  

Calligraphy is intimately linked to the evolution of Chinese and the dissemination of Chinese culture. From its inception, Chinese calligraphy has been a marriage between artistic expression and the recording of information. Throughout its history, the action of writing calligraphy has been viewed as an art form in and of itself. As with any cultural product, calligraphy is also a mirror of the culture that produced it. 

In this mini-series on the evolution of Chinese calligraphy, we're going to be briefly exploring the following seven major stages of its development and using them to understand some more about Chinese culture and history. 

 Examples of various calligraphy scripts and styles

Examples of various calligraphy scripts and styles

  • Oracle bone script (甲骨文 jiǎgǔwén), 1400-1200 BCE 

  • Bronze script (金文 jīnwén), 1100-256 BCE 

  • Large seal script (大篆 dàzhuàn), 1100-256 BCE 

  • Small seal script (小篆 xiǎozhuàn), 221-207 BCE 

  • Clerical script (隶书 lìshū), 207 BCE - 220 AD 

  • Standard script (楷书 kǎishū), 207 BCE - 220 AD 

  • Simplified script (简体字 jiǎntǐzì), 1949 AD 

We're really looking forward to the journey and hope our readers will enjoy learning more about fascinating language.  

The next part of this series will cover some of the earliest examples of written language – the oracle bone script. 

Bestroke Blog - Welcome!

In our Bestroke Blog, we’ll be exploring everything Chinese calligraphy - from the development of the various scripts throughout its long history to in-depth analysis of specific proverbs. Throughout the blog, we’ll be using Chinese calligraphy as a method for understanding more about Chinese language, culture and thinking.

The inclusion of Chinese characters in the text sections of the blog will be written in simplified Chinese (unless otherwise stated), and we aim to provide each instance with the Chinese pinyin (the method of romanization of Chinese), so that the Chinese learners among our readers will be able to pronounce the characters more easily. 

We really hope you'll enjoy learning more about Chinese calligraphy with us! If there is anything in particlar you'd like to see us blog about, tweet us at @Bestrokechina