Thursday, February 18, 2010
Stone Drum Inscription: The Origin of Calligraphic Rules 石鼓文：书法第一法则
The style of stone drum inscription followed quite closely the style of bronze inscription in the Western Zhou dynasty. It also influenced the small seal script in the Qin dynasty.
In terms of calligraphy, the stone drum inscription deferred bronze inscription in its full and pithy strokes, symmetric and balanced structure and almost square form as well as the ordered broad ways of writing. Compared with bronze inscription, stone drum inscription was even more regular. It adopted the complicated structure of bronze inscription, and its symmetric and plump long strokes and regular ways of writing was adopted later by small seal script. Most characters were in form of horizontal rectangle. They were ordered, solid, solemn and imposing. It primitive beauty impressed people of all generations.
Calligraphers believe that stone drum inscription set up the criterion for large seal script which is precursor of small seal script. Apparently, stone drum inscription was the transitional form between bell inscription and stone inscription, between large seal script and small seal script. With it plump, strong and pithy style, it was considered as important model for practicing seal script by calligraphers from all times. Hence it gained the honour ‘the origin of calligraphic rules’.
The Qing dynasty had witnessed the greatest influence of stone drum inscription on Chinese calligraphy. Masters of seal script, Yang Yisun and Wu Changshuo, formed their own style based on the style of stone drum inscription.
The great historical significance of stone drum inscription was in its strokes, rules of writing and artistic conception that had provided reference for later calligraphy.