Friday, September 3, 2010

Zhang Shoushi 张瘦石

Zhang Shoushi (Chan San Sheh) was highly skilled in the art of Chinese calligraphy. However, he is not well known as a calligrapher. This is probably because he lived in 1950s and 1960s, a period during which Chinese calligraphy was not popular in Singapore.

Zhang Shoushi (1898-1969) was born in Jiading of Shanghai, China. Since young, he loved Chinese calligraphy, probably due to his family’s scholarly tradition and the influence of his grand uncle Nianyi. Later he had learned various model calligraphic works from many accomplished calligraphers including Wu Changshuo.

He came to Singapore in 1948 and worked as a teacher in a number of schools, including Chung Cheng High School and the Chinese High School in Singapore, and Chung Hwa High School in Kuala Lumpur. In 1955, he taught Chinese part-time at the then Nanyang University’s Extramural Classes. He joined the Chinese Department of the then Nanyang University as a Professor and was promoted to head the department in 1964. He retired in 1966.

He passed away in September 1969 at the age of 66.

He practiced hard on Chinese calligraphy during his lifetime. He especially liked to practice the model calligraphic works in official and clerical scripts. He loved the ancient sentiment that is fully reflected by these scripts. He started with the steles of the North-South Dynasties, then moved to Qin dynasty’s clerical scripts, stone-drum inscriptions, bronze inscriptions, and then followed by the Han dynasty’s clerical scripts, walking and cursive scripts. Therefore, he is good at writing official and clerical scripts, walking and the cursive scripts. His calligraphic works are full of power and grandeur; the strokes are as thick as the bronze wares, revealed a strong aesthetic taste of inscriptions on bronzes and stone tablets.

There is very little information about his calligraphy activities, and he probably did not conduct any calligraphy class. He held a calligraphy exhibition in Singapore in 1949, lectured in a radio program to talk about Chinese Calligraphy in 1959, and the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore held an exhibition for him in 1979.

Zhang had published a number of academic books, among them one was on Chinese calligraphy. The book entitled ‘Shoushi on Calligraphy’ has ten chapters, namely,

1. Brief Autobiography;
2. Value of Calligraphy;
3. Spirit of Calligraphy;
4. Brush Holding Techniques;
5. Writing Techniques;
6. Writing Tools;
7. Calligraphic Composition;
8. Learning Calligraphy;
9. Official and Clerical Scripts;
10. Stele and Rubbings.
It is indeed a rare book on calligraphy written by a local calligrapher.


1948年来到新加坡,历任新加坡中正及华侨中学、马来西亚吉隆坡中化中学等教职。1955 年兼职南大进修班华文教学,1960 年春应聘为南洋大学中文系教授, 1964 年升任系主任。1966 年退休。

卒于1969 年9 月,享年66 岁。



张瘦石在学术方面的著作不少,其中只有一本是有关书法的,书名《瘦石论书》。书的内容共有十章,一、 自叙,二、价值,三、 形质,四、执笔, 五、运笔, 六、分布, 七、用具, 八、学叙, 九、篆隶, 十、碑帖。这本书堪称本地少有之书法著作。


  1. 新加坡前辈书法家的大作,实在令人大开眼界。

  2. Zhang Shoushi is probably one of the best calligraphers in Singapore. It is a pity that we do not have much materials conerning his calligraphy and related activities.

  3. chang clan general association has many of his calligraphy works..