Friday, December 3, 2010

Chu Suiliang: Preface for Sacred Instruction in Tower of Wild Goose 褚遂良:雁塔圣教序

Chu Suiliang’s calligraphic style was thin and rigid, yet with free and classic elegance. The unique characteristic was blending some traits of clerical script into regular script. He was one of the few calligraphers during his period to defy the dominant Northern School of Stele Calligraphy and to use a relaxed, detached brushwork to express the beauty and rhythm of brushstrokes and lines.
Someone commented: ‘Chu mastered the charming and attractive calligraphic style of Wang Xizhi, which is like a beautiful lady unable to bear the weight of her own garments, the attractiveness is beyond description.’
The ‘Preface for Sacred Instruction in Tower of Wild Goose’ is representative of his calligraphy. The brushwork in Preface is typical of his smooth and lively style. The regular script style is interspersed with running script, its lines graceful and full of vigour. It employs the ‘one wave three reversals’ technique to make horizontal strokes; when starting and ending a stroke, it meticulously observes the rules for lifting, pressing, pausing and reversing. The steady, forceful brushwork and contrast between lines of varying thickness result in an omate visual effect.
In character structure, Chu Suiliang made a shape departure from the elongated shape of character of early Tang and broadened the structure to make them square and squat, paving way for the future evolution of calligraphic styles. In was on this basis that Yan Zhenqing further increased the width of the strokes and abandoned the contractive for the expansive structure, thereby achieving a radical change in calligraphic style.
Preface for Sacred Instruction in Tower of Wild Goose 雁塔圣教序


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