Communication Suitable for college and high school students and those learning on their own, this fully illustrated coursebook provides comprehensive ins

Suitable for college and high school students and those learning on their own,
this fully illustrated coursebook provides comprehensive instruction in the
history and practical techniques of Chinese calligraphy. No previous knowledge
of the language is required to follow the text or complete the lessons.

The work covers three major areas:1) descriptions of Chinese characters and
their components, including stroke types, layout patterns, and indications of
sound and meaning; 2) basic brush techniques; and 3) the social, cultural,
historical, and philosophical underpinnings of Chinese calligraphy—all of which
are crucial to understanding and appreciating this art form.

Students practice brush writing as they progress from tracing to copying to
free-hand writing. Model characters are marked to indicate meaning and stroke
order, and well-known model phrases are shown in various script types, allowing
students to practice different calligraphic styles. Beginners will fi nd the author’s
advice on how to avoid common pitfalls in writing brush strokes invaluable.

CHINESE WRITING AND CALLIGRAPHY will be welcomed by both students
and instructors in need of an accessible text on learning the fundamentals of the
art of writing Chinese characters.

WENDAN LI is associate professor of Chinese language and linguistics at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

C H I N E S E L A N G U A G E

Cover illustration: Small Seal Script by Wu Rangzhi, Qing dynasty, and
author’s Chinese writing brushes and brush stand.

Cover design: Wilson Angel

UNIVERSITY of HAWAI‘I PRESS
Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96822-1888

LI

LI-ChnsWriting_cvrMech.indd 1 4/19/10 4:11:27 PM

Chinese Writing and Calligraphy

A Latitude 20 Book

University of Hawai‘i Press

Honolulu

Chinese Writing and Calligraphy

We n d a n L i

© 2009 University of HaWai‘i Press
all rights reserved

14 13 12 11 10 09 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Li, Wendan.
Chinese writing and calligraphy / Wendan Li.

p. cm.
“a Latitude 20 book.”

includes bibliographical references and index.
isBn-13: 978-0-8248-3364-0 (pbk. : alk. paper)

isBn-10: 0-8248-3364-3 (pbk. : alk. paper)
1. Calligraphy, Chinese. 2. Chinese characters. 3. Calligraphy, Chinese—technique. i. title.

nK3634.a2L4975 2010
745.6’19951—dc22

2009047054

University of Hawai‘i Press books are printed on
acid-free paper and meet the guidelines for permanence

and durability of the Council on Library resources

Designed by Julie Matsuo-Chun
Printed by sheridan Books, inc.

ix P R E F A C E

1 C H A P T E R 1 INTRODUCTION

2 this Book
3 the Chapters
5 Writing and Calligraphy in Chinese society
16 the artistic Qualities of Chinese Writing
18 abilities that Can Be acquired by Practicing Calligraphy
19 to Learners with no Background in the Chinese Language
19 Discussion Questions

20 C H A P T E R 2 WRITING INSTRUMENTS AND TRAINING PROCEDURES

20 the four treasures in a Chinese study
27 the training Process
32 Getting ready to Write
36 Moisture, Pressure, and speed
37 Discussion Questions and Writing Practice

38 C H A P T E R 3 BRUSH TECHNIQUES AND BASIC STROKES I

38 Brush techniques (1): Pressing Down the Brush and Bringing it Up
40 an overview of the Major stroke types
42 stroke type 1: the Dot
45 stroke type 2: the Horizontal Line
46 stroke type 3: the vertical Line
47 tracing
48 Discussion Questions and Writing Practice

50 C H A P T E R 4 BRUSH TECHNIQUES AND BASIC STROKES II

50 Brush techniques (2): Center tip versus side tip
51 Brush techniques (3): revealed tip versus Concealed tip
52 stroke type 4: the Down-Left slant
54 stroke type 5: the Down-right slant
55 stroke type 6: the right-Up tick
56 Chinese Culture (1): Chinese names
60 Discussion Questions and Writing Practice

Contents

c o n t e n t s

vi

61 C H A P T E R 5 BASIC STROKES III AND STROKE ORDER

61 stroke type 7: the turn
62 stroke type 8: the Hook
65 summary of Major stroke types
66 suggestions for Beginners to avoid Common Pitfalls
67 stroke order
71 Discussion Questions and Writing Practice

73 C H A P T E R 6 THE FORMATION OF CHINESE CHARACTERS

73 the nature of Chinese Written signs
75 Categories of Characters
80 the Complexity and Developmental sequence of the Categories
81 Chinese Culture (2): Dates in Chinese according to the Western Calendar
83 Discussion Questions and Writing Practice

84 C H A P T E R 7 THE INTERNAL STRUCTURE OF CHARACTERS AND

THE AESTHETICS OF WRITING

84 the structure of Characters
89 aesthetic Principles
96 Chinese Culture (3): What is Written in Chinese Calligraphy?
98 Discussion Questions and Writing Practice

100 C H A P T E R 8 THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY I:

THE SEAL SCRIPTS

100 an overview of scripts and styles
102 the Great seal scripts
109 the small seal script
114 Discussion Questions and Writing Practice

115 C H A P T E R 9 THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY II:

THE CLERICAL SCRIPT

115 the Clerical script
119 Writing the Clerical script
123 Chinese Culture (4): the Chinese traditional Dating Method
128 Discussion Questions and Writing Practice

129 C H A P T E R 1 0 THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY III:

THE REGULAR SCRIPT

129 the regular script
130 the regular and Clerical scripts Compared
131 Masters of the regular script
138 Discussion Questions and Writing Practice

c o n t e n t s

vii

140 C H A P T E R 1 1 THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY IV:

THE RUNNING AND CURSIVE STYLES

141 the running style
147 the Cursive style
152 Writing the running and Cursive styles
153 Concluding remarks on the Development of Chinese Calligraphy
154 Discussion Questions and Writing Practice

155 C H A P T E R 1 2 THE ART OF COMPOSITION

157 Components of a Calligraphy Piece
166 Chinese Culture (5): Chinese seals
173 Discussion Questions and Writing Practice

175 C H A P T E R 1 3 THE YIN AND YANG OF CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY

175 Diversity in Harmony
178 Dialectics in the art of Calligraphy
180 appreciation of Calligraphy
183 Chinese Calligraphy and Health
185 Discussion Questions and Writing Practice

185 C H A P T E R 1 4 BY WA5Y OF CONCLUSION:

CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY IN THE MODERN ERA

186 Modern Developments in Chinese Calligraphy
192 Chinese Calligraphy in the West
195 What is Chinese Calligraphy?
197 Discussion Questions and Writing Practice

199 A P P E N D I X 1 : B R U S H W R I T I N G E X E R C I S E S

243 A P P E N D I X 2 : P I N Y I N P R O N U N C I AT I O N G U I D E

247 A P P E N D I X 3 : C H I N E S E D Y N A S T I C T I M E L I N E

251 N O T E S

255 G L O S S A R Y ( E N G L I S H – C H I N E S E – P I N Y I N )

259 R E F E R E N C E S

263 B O O K S I N E N G L I S H F O R F U R T H E R S T U D Y

265 I N D E X

ix

Preface

This book is a collection of teaching materials I accumulated over the past ten
years, during which I taught the course Chinese Culture through Calligraphy at
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The materials and the order of
topics were tested and revised throughout these years. They reflect special concerns
in teaching Chinese calligraphy to college students in the West who may not have
any background in Chinese culture and the Chinese language. For these students,
the instructor needs to be meticulous not only in demonstrating the details of the
techniques, but also in explaining cultural manifestations, significance, and differ-
ences. The goal is to make the traditional Chinese art reverberate on the harp of the
American brain, which has been tuned to the scales of Western culture.

I had rich resources to draw from when writing this book. The long history of
Chinese culture, language, and calligraphy and the numerous scholars who studied
and wrote about Chinese calligraphy or simply practiced the art were a joy to read
about and to reflect on. I learned a great deal from the works of many other scholars
who are pioneers in introducing Chinese culture to Western readers and who wrote
extensively about Chinese art and calligraphy in English. Notable among them are
Yee Chiang, Yuho Tseng, and Da-Wei Kwo. I am deeply grateful to the late Tsung

p re f a c e

x

Chin, professor at the University of Maryland. It was through working with him
on a collection of papers following the First International Conference on East Asian
Calligraphy Education in 1998 and also through our personal conversations that my
idea of offering a Chinese calligraphy course started to take shape.

I wish to express my gratitude to the Grier/Woods Presbyterian China Initiative
and to the Freeman Foundation for fellowships and travel awards I received through
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that allowed me to work on this
project, to the Boardman Family Foundation for their support in my teaching and
research, and to the Department of Asian Studies of the University of North Caro-
lina at Chapel Hill for its support in furnishing optimal teaching facilities for the
Chinese calligraphy course I teach. I have also benefited from presenting parts of the
materials in this book and discussions of course design at conferences, including the
International Conferences of East Asian Calligraphy Education (2004 in Columbia,
South Carolina, and 2006 in Hiroshima, Japan) and annual conferences of the Chi-
nese Language Teachers Association.

I owe a special debt of gratitude to Dwight St. John, Kay Robin Alexander,
Carl Robertson, and two anonymous reviewers for their careful reading of earlier
drafts of the manuscript and their invaluable advice and suggestions for revision.
My sincere thanks also go to Susan Stone for excellent copy editing and to Keith
Leber of the University of Hawai‘i Press for his assistance throughout the publica-
tion process.

I would like to thank calligraphers Xu Bing, Harrison Xinshi Tu, Ren Ping,
Mao Rong, and Wang Chunjie for permission to use their artwork in this book.
Thanks also go to the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, for their permission to use
images from their collection as illustrations. Sources of other illustrations, for which
I am also grateful, are mentioned in the captions of specific figures.

To the students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who took
the Chinese calligraphy course with me over the past years, I say thank you. Your
learning experience and feedback on the course played an important role in shaping
this book.

1

c h a p t e r o n e

introduction

Chinese calligraphy, 書法 shū fǎ in Chinese, has been considered the quintessence
of Chinese culture because it is an art that encompasses Chinese language, history,
philosophy, and aesthetics. The term’s literal translation, “the way of writing” (shū,
“writing,” and fǎ, “way” or “standard”), identifies the core of the art, which has
close bonds with Chinese written signs, on the one hand, and painting, on the
other. In China, adeptness in brush calligraphy is among the four traditional skills
that cultivate the minds of the literati, along with the ability to play qín (a stringed
musical instrument), skill at qí (a strategic board game known as “go” in the West),
and ability to produce huà (paintings). In the modern age, shū fǎ is known world-
wide as a unique type of art, representing one of the most distinctive features of
Chinese civilization.

To people in the West, Chinese calligraphy symbolizes a complex, distinct, re-
mote, and mysterious cultural heritage. These perceptions stem in part from differ-
ences between Eastern and Western worldviews, but the written signs themselves also
present a seemingly insurmountable barrier. However, Chinese calligraphy is also fas-
cinating and attractive in Western eyes. Recent advances in communication between
China and the rest of the globe have piqued interest in China’s culture, language,

c h i n e s e w r i t i n g a n d c a l l i g r a p hy

2

worldview, and way of life. Both within China and elsewhere, knowledge of Chinese
calligraphy is seen a mark of education, creativity, and cultural sophistication.

tHis BooK

This book introduces Chinese calligraphy and its techniques to anyone with an in-
terest in Chinese brush writing. It does not presuppose any previous knowledge of
the Chinese language or writing system. The chapters are designed with the follow-
ing objectives: (1) to describe in detail the techniques of Chinese brush writing at
the beginning level, (2) to provide high-quality models with practical and interesting
characters for writing practice, and (3) to introduce linguistic, cultural, historical,
and philosophical aspects of Chinese calligraphy. In the discussion comparisons are
made with Western culture and characteristics of the English language and callig-
raphy. The book consists of fourteen chapters of text supplemented in an appendix
with models for brush-writing practice.

Detailed instruction in brush-writing techniques form the heart of the book. A
standard training procedure is outlined first, followed by a detailed examination of
three fundamental elements of Chinese calligraphy: stroke techniques, the structure
of Chinese characters, and the art of composition. Training in brush writing be-
gins with brush strokes in the Regular Script. According to the traditional Chinese
training method, domestic calligraphy students always spend a substantial amount of
time mastering the Regular Script before moving on to other styles. Learners in the
West, however, generally prefer to have the opportunity to learn about and practice
writing various scripts. Therefore, this book focuses on basic brush writing skills in
the Regular Script in the first half and then introduces Small Seal Script, Clerical
Script, and Running/Cursive styles in the second half.

Learners are exposed to a diversity of script styles. They are not expected to
master them by the end of this book, although some students, with repeated prac-
tice, may be able to write some characters in a particular script quite well. Some
learners or instructors may prefer not to practice all the scripts introduced in this
book. Instructors or individual learners can decide the number of additional script
types to be included in the course of study, whether hands-on writing practice is
done for all of them, and the amount of time to be devoted to each script. Serious
students will no doubt need further training and practice in order to gain compe-
tence in artistic and creative production. For this purpose, the reading list at the end
of this book provides some resources for further study in English.

The book also describes in detail the formation of Chinese characters, their
stroke types, stroke order, components, and major layout patterns. Many of the
explanations given here are not found in other calligraphy books. The book title
Chinese Writing and Calligraphy well reflects this special feature. The history of the
Chinese calligraphic art is presented through a review of early Chinese writing, the

i n t ro d u c t i o n

3

development of different writing styles, the ways in which calligraphy is adapting to
the modern age, and the ongoing debate on the future of the time-honored tradi-
tional art. Cultural aspects discussed in the book include writing instruments (their
history, manufacture, and features), Chinese names and seals, the Chinese world-
view (for example, the cyclic view of time), and the Daoist concept of yin and yang
as a fundamental philosophical principle in Chinese calligraphy.

Model sheets for brush-writing practice are designed to accompany the discus-
sion in the chapters and to provide opportunities for hands-on writing practice.
Learners are guided from tracing to copying and then to freehand writing. Single
strokes are practiced before characters, which are followed by the composition of
calligraphy pieces. Writing skills are developed in the Regular Script first. Then op-
portunities are provided for learners to write characters in Small Seal, Clerical, and
Cursive styles so that they can explore and identify their personal preferences. The
selection and arrangement of model characters reflect a number of considerations.
Preference is given to characters that serve practical teaching and learning goals or
characters that frequently appear in calligraphy pieces. Repetition of characters,
either in the same or different scripts, also serves specific pedagogical functions.
Since no two calligraphy courses are the same, instructors or individual learners may
decide to repeat or to skip certain pages depending on their specific goals.

On the model sheets for brush-writing practice, each character is marked with
its meaning in English and the stroke order in Regular Script. The model characters
are also sequenced by level of difficulty. After individual characters, well-known
phrases are also practiced. The brush-writing models in the four script types are
all based on works of Wang Xizhi (303–361 CE), the calligraphy sage of the Jin
dynasty whose writing represents the peak of the art. As is traditional and to avoid
confusion, Chinese personal names throughout the book are presented with the
family name first, followed by the given name; the Chinese characters presented in
this book are in their full (traditional) form. The romanization of Chinese terms is
in Pinyin.

As will be discussed in Chapter 2, Chinese calligraphy is written on absorbent
paper. Following that tradition, the learner is advised to use absorbent paper, ideally
“rice paper,” for writing practice. Nowadays, such paper (even with a printed grid
specifically for Chinese calligraphy practice) can be purchased online or in art stores.
Rice paper, which is quite transparent, can be laid on top of the model characters
provided in this book for tracing.

tHe CHaPters

Chapter 2 first describes the instruments used in Chinese brush writing, including
their history, manufacture, features, and maintenance. Elementary training issues
are dealt with next, including steps of the training procedure, the management of

c h i n e s e w r i t i n g a n d c a l l i g r a p hy

4

pressure, and the roles of moisture and speed in writing. Other rudimentary issues
such as brush preparation and arrangement of writing space are also discussed.

Chapters 3, 4, and 5 expound upon the basic skills in writing individual strokes.
First the techniques of pressing down and lifting up of the brush are discussed and
illustrated, followed by an overview of the eight major stroke types. Step-by-step in-
structions on how to write each stroke type are then laid out and amply illustrated.
The discussion also includes variant forms of each stroke type, techniques involved
in writing, stroke-order rules, and common mistakes made by beginning learners.
Models for writing practice are provided. To prepare learners for producing calli-
graphic pieces and one’s signature, cultural topics related to calligraphy are also dis-
cussed. Chapter 4, for example, offers a discussion of Chinese names, including how
a Chinese name is chosen for a person based on his or her original Western name.

The next chapters proceed to the actual formation of Chinese characters. Chapter
6 describes the nature of Chinese written signs and categorizes characters in terms
of their composition. Chapter 7 delineates the internal layout patterns of characters
and some basic principles of writing. The cultural topics for these two chapters are
dating in Chinese according to the Western calendar and the themes and content
of calligraphy pieces.

Historical factors that molded Chinese calligraphy are presented in Chapters 8
through 11. Since this evolution started more than three thousand years ago, the
discussion only summarizes the major line of development, emphasizing the events
and calligraphy masters with a profound influence on the art. Each of these chapters
deals with one script type (Seal Script, Clerical, Regular, and Running/Cursive).
Together these chapters seek to foster an understanding of the historical develop-
ment of the calligraphic art, to build a knowledge base for distinguishing and appre-
ciating the various script styles, and to provide opportunities to practice the major
scripts. Discussion concentrates on how each script was developed, how it differs
from other styles, its main characteristics, and life stories of major calligraphers. Il-
lustrations and model sheets are also provided. For the Regular Script, the personal
styles of the three greatest masters, Wang Xizhi, Yan Zhenqing, and Liu Gongquan,
are compared in Chapter 10, so that learners have a chance to examine subtle dif-
ferences within one major script type. For a cultural topic, Chapter 9 describes
the Chinese traditional time-recording method commonly used to date calligraphy
works.

Composing a calligraphy piece is the topic of Chapter 12. Details of components
and layout patterns are described, followed by a discussion of the making and use
of the Chinese seal. Chapter 13 explores the Daoist concept of yin and yang, and its
significance in Chinese culture. This chapter also discusses how to appreciate a callig-
raphy piece and the relation of calligraphy and health: it will be shown that calligra-
phy practice is a healthy union of motion and tranquillity. The motion of calligraphy
writing not only corresponds to rhythms of the physical body, such as breathing and

i n t ro d u c t i o n

5

heartbeat, but also accords with the writer’s moods and emotions. Chapter 14, the last
chapter, examines how calligraphy, as a traditional art form, is adapting to the age of
modernization and globalization.

WritinG anD CaLLiGraPHy in CHinese soCiety

All languages serve the practical function of communication. In different cultures
and societies, however, language and its roles are perceived differently.

According to Jewish and Christian cultures, God created language (human
speech). In Chinese culture, however, the origin of speech is never accounted for;
instead, the historical emphasis has always been on writing. To the Chinese, the
creation of language means the creation of Chinese characters. Credit for this inven-
tion is given to a half-god, half-human figure called Cang Jie, who lived about four
thousand years ago. The ancient Chinese believed that Heaven had secret codes,
which were revealed through natural phenomena. Only those with divine powers
were endowed with the ability to break them. Cang Jie, who had four eyes (Fig-
ure 1.1), had this ability. He was able to interpret natural signs and to transcribe
the shapes of natural objects (e.g., mountains, rivers, shadows of trees and plants,
animal footprints, and bird scratches) into writing. Legend has it that when Cang
Jie created written symbols, spirits howled in agony as the secrets of Heaven were
revealed. Since then all Chinese, from emperors to ordinary farmers, have shared a
tremendous awe for written symbols. They have venerated Cang Jie as the origina-
tor of Chinese written language. Today shrines to Cang Jie can be found in various
locations in China. The one in Shanxi Province, not far from the tomb of the Yel-
low Emperor, the legendary ancestor of the Chinese people (ca. 2600 BCE), is at
least 1,800 years old. Memorial ceremonies are held every year at both shrines.

Figure 1.1. Cang Jie, creator of Chinese characters (legendary). [ from zhou, hanzi jiaoxue lilun fangfa , p. 5, where
no indication of source is given ]

c h i n e s e w r i t i n g a n d c a l l i g r a p hy

6

One reason for the great respect for the written word in China has to do with
the longevity of Cang Jie’s invention: the written signs he created have been in
continuous use throughout China’s history. This written language unites a people
on a vast land who speak different, mutually unintelligible dialects. It is also the
character set in which all of the classics of Chinese literature were written. Using
these characters, the Chinese were the first to invent movable type around 1041 CE.
It is estimated that, until the invention of movable type in the West, no civilization
produced more written material than China. By the end of the fifteenth century
CE, more books were written and reproduced in China than in all other countries
of the world combined!

The central, indispensable role of the written language in China nurtured a
reverence for written symbols that no other culture has yet surpassed. Written char-
acters hold a sacred position, being much more than a useful tool for communica-
tion. As we will see throughout this book, characters have been incised into shells
of turtles and shoulder blades of oxen; they have been inscribed on pottery, bronze,
iron, stone, and jade; they have been written on strips of bamboo, pieces of silk,
and sheets of the world’s first paper. They are on ancestral worship tablets and for-
tuneteller’s cards; they appear at building entrances and on doors for good luck.
When new houses are built, inscriptions are put on crossbeams to repel evil spirits.
Significant indoor areas or the central room in a traditional residence always have
brush-written characters visible at a commanding height. Decorating such halls
and rooms with calligraphy is a ubiquitous tradition in China, which should not be
compared to the Western tradition of hanging framed biblical admonitions, printed
in Gothic letters, on the wall of an alcove. The importance of the latter resides much
more in its message, whereas that of the former is predominantly its visual beauty.
(See Figures 1.2–1.4).

Written characters are also an integral part of public scenes in China. Simply by
walking down the street, one can enjoy a feast of numerous calligraphic styles on
street signs, shop banners, billboards, and in restaurants and parks. During festivities
and important events, brush-written couplets are composed and put up for public
display. There are marriage couplets for newlyweds, good-luck couplets for new
babies, longevity couplets on elders’ birthdays, spring couplets for the New Year,
and elegiac couplets for memorial services. Calligraphy works written in various
styles can be purchased on the street or in shops and museums; these may feature
characters, such as 福 fú, “blessings,” and 壽 shòu, “longevity,” written in more than
one hundred ways. (See Figures 1.5–1.8).

The decorative function of Chinese calligraphy is a common sight in China.
At tourist attractions, writings of past emperors and calligraphy masters or famous
sayings and poems written by famous calligraphers are engraved on rocks or wood
to enhance the beauty of nature. They can even be found on sides of mountains,
where huge characters are carved into stone cliffs for all to view and appreciate

Figure 1.4. Living room in a modern urban residence with a piece of calligraphy
carved on wood hanging on the wall. [ photo by wendan li ]

Figure 1.2. entrance of the yuelu academy 岳麓書
院 in Changsha (established 1015 ce), one of the four
great academies of northern song China. the hori-
zontal inscription bearing the name “yuelu academy”
was bestowed by emperor Zhenzong. the couplet,
which reads vertically from right to left, says: “Promis-
ing scholars gather on the land of Chu; the majority of
them are here.” [ photo by wendan li ]

Figure 1.3. Central room of a traditional Chinese
house, where everything of spiritual value to the
owner is displayed and worshiped, from Buddha
to national leaders to photos of deceased family
members. Brush-written couplets are indispens-
able to such a display. Photo taken in rural
Guangxi. [ photo by wendan li ]

Figure 1.6. restaurant sign Brocaded red Mansion 錦繡紅樓 in small
seal script. [ photo by wendan li ]

Figure 1.5. Wallpaper in a restaurant with 福 (blessings) in various styles.
[ photo by wendan li ]

Figure 1.7. Welcome sign 賓至如歸 (guests coming home) in small seal script at the entrance of a modern
hotel. [ photo by wendan li ]

Figure 1.8. a wall decorated with characters at Beijing international airport. the large charac-
ter 和 in the middle means “harmony.” [ photo by wendan li ]

c h i n e s e w r i t i n g a n d c a l l i g r a p hy

10

(Figures 1.9–1.12). The Forest of Monuments in the historic city of Xi’an and the
inscriptions along the rocky paths of Mount Tai are the largest displays of Chinese
calligraphy. Places well-known calligraphers visited and left such writing are historic
landmarks protected by the government today.

The importance of writing in Chinese society and, more specifically, the im-
portance of good handwriting are apparent to students of Chinese history. Before
the hard pen and pencil were introduced to China from the West in the early twen-
tieth century, the brush was the only writing tool. Brush writing was a skill every
educated man had to master. In the seventh century CE, the imperial civil ser-
vice examinations were introduced in China to determine who among the general
population would be permitted to enter the government’s bureaucracy. …

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