Other Script Types

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Between the time of Wang Xizhi and the beginning of the Tang dynasty, calligraphy had come to be seen as a vehicle for expressing one's social status and learning. There was also a very close relationship between poetry and calligraphy as practiced by the educated elite from this time forward. More and more people who practiced calligraphy sought to develop facility with a variety of styles and script types. One of the means by which they did so was copying familiar texts that contained a wide range of simple and complicated characters.

Below are two examples of handwritten copies of the Thousand character classic, a children's primer written during the Liang dynasty (502-556 AD). Zhiyong, the descendant of Wang Xizhi who was also Yu Shinan's teacher, was said to have made eight hundred copies of this text for distribution among various Budhhist temples in his native Zhejiang province.

Why do you think well known texts were considered good sources for calligraphy practice? Might the content of the Thousand character classic have been an important factor in its selection for calligraphy practice? Why or why not?

Do you think that these calligraphic examples might be close reproductions of an original, or do you think the writers are demonstrating their own personal style? 

Gaoxian (Tang), Thousand character essay in 

cursive script, detail                           source

Thousand character essay (Sui or early Tang) in alternating lines of regular and running script, detail                source




Although the Tang period is closely associated with the standard script as a result of its being adopted by the court, other types continued to be in use. 

Look at the example at the right, which is done in a script most common in Han times. 

Do you think this type of writing may have seemed old fashioned when compared with the regular script examples of the early Tang court calligraphy shown above? 

What do you think might have made this style of writing attractive or necessary in this later time period?

Shi Weize, Memorial inscription,  

736 AD, detail                        source


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