Friday, January 14, 2011
Mao Zedong’s Calligraphy 毛泽东的书法
Mao Zedong is obviously one of the greatest leaders in the Chinese history and today, more that 30 years after his death in 1976, he is still very much loved by Chinese people as a great founder of New China, a great calligrapher and poet, and a protective talisman by many Chinese too. The individual charm of Mao is unmatched among Chinese leaders.
Mao was also a skilled calligrapher with a highly personal style. In China, Mao was considered to be one of the top 10 calligraphers of the 20 century. Today, his calligraphic works can be seen throughout mainland China. His work gave rise to a new form of Chinese calligraphy called ‘Mao-style’ or ’Maoti’, which has gained increasing popularity since his death.
Mao learned to write with brush when he went to a private school at the age of eight. He first studied with stele inscriptions and later practiced hard on copybooks, providing a sound basis for the forming of his own style. Mao always spared time to read stele rubbings or to see stele inscriptions himself, even in wartime.
He observed that the elements of Chinese calligraphy were full of contrasts and balances. Some characters' construction is big, some small; some are dense, some not; strokes are different in length, boldness and curves; the overall settings are balanced with lines and space, black and white. However, calligraphers should concern themselves with the strength of characters' strokes - called ‘bones’ in calligraphy – as well as their spirit. He said, ‘People have faces, bones and spirit, and so do characters.’ Therefore, when practicing calligraphy, ‘Simply copy at first, and then imitate the construction and learn the spirit. If you practice long enough, the bones and spirits will naturally come out.’
His highest achievement was his cursive hand, which was imposing and magnificent, with up and down rhythms – a unique style formed in his middle age. His handwriting was full of energy, but true to regulations, expressing a strong visual beauty. Reading his cursive style handwriting, people immerse themselves in the flow of strokes, slow or fast, dense or not dense. Readers are attracted by the aura his works create, as well as by his presence as the top leader.