Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bronze Inscription Calligraphy 金文书法

If one associates the oracle-bone inscriptions with the Shang dynasty, then the Bronze inscriptions are certainly the characters and calligraphy of the Zhou dynasty, especially the Western Zhou dynasty.

Bronze inscriptions differ from oracle-bone inscription in many ways.
Firstly, oracle-bone inscriptions are more graphic whose complicated strokes make them more like pictures, whereas bronze inscriptions are simpler and more regular.
Secondly, the way that the characters are written are not standardised for the oracle-bone inscriptions, that means the same word can be written in a number of ways.
Thirdly, the oracle-bone inscriptions were carved on bones with knife, so the strokes are normally very thin. Bronze inscriptions, on the other hand, were produced with mould, so the strokes are wide in germination and without sharp points.
In terms of type set, the characters of bronze inscriptions are always arranged from top to bottom and lines from right to left, which reveals the aesthetic culture in pursuit of order and regularity in Zhou dynasty. This is quite different from oracle-bone inscriptions which are less orderly arranged.
In terms of calligraphy, the one-thousand year history of bronze inscriptions can be divided into two periods: the ‘wave-style’ inscriptions were favoured before the mid-Western Zhou whereas the ‘jade-chopstick style’ inscriptions after the mid-Western Zhou.
The ‘wave-style’ was vigorous and rough, with the first and last stroke in shape of wave. The characters are almost in lines, but not in rows.
The ‘jade-chopstick style’ was round and flexible and the left and right parts of a character normally are of same height.


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