Thursday, January 29, 2009

PM Zhang Writes Cursive Style 张丞相写草书

It is said that the Chinese calligraphy is analogous to both music and building architecture. The brushwork takes shape in rhythmic movement that reflects the calligrapher’s mental flow. The Chinese calligraphy also reflects the harmonious balance of lines/strokes that form the Chinese words and the empty space, or the harmony of the occupied and unoccupied spaces.
The dynamic balance of the brushwork and the harmony it creates should be appreciated in a spatial-temporal context as the movement of the brush introduces a temporal dimension into calligraphy. The aspect of the Chinese calligraphy is most apparent in the cursive style of writing.
However, the emphasis on the temporal dimension should not result in making the words illegible. This was what happened to Prime Minister Zhang during the Song dynasty.
It is recorded that PM Zhang enjoyed writing in the cursive style but his handwriting was too illegible for recognition. All his friends laughed at him but he didn’t care. One day he got a sentence he liked, so he quickly noted it down with his brush. The paper was filled with lively cursive characters. He asked his nephew to copy it down. While transcribing it, his nephew came to an illegible character and stopped at a loss. He showed the paper to his uncle and asked, ‘What is the word?’ The PM stared at it for a while, also failing to figure it out. He scolded his nephew, ‘Why did you ask me earlier before I forgot it?’

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