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Discovering China - Chinese Calligraphy: History and Development

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Published on Aug 17, 2012

[Ben,]
"Well, I'm here with Helen Liu and her colleague Mr. Guan from Wall Street Chinese. Thank you very much for being here with us today. Helen, first of all, would you like to give us a little introduction? What is Wall Street Chinese?"

[Helen Liu, Founder Wall St. Chinese]
"I founded Wall Street Chinese back in 2009, in response to the increase in need of Western society (wanting) to know more about the East."

[Ben]
"I understand that you do a lot of promotion of traditional Chinese language and arts in New York. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

[Helen Liu, Founder Wall St. Chinese]
"Other than business Chinese, which is the initial reason of setting up Wall Street Chinese, we also promote a lot of Chinese art and culture. We've been organizing more than 200 events, seminars, workshops, and classes around traditional Chinese culture—such as our signature class, calligraphy. We've been running it every other week in our offices and studios, for the last three and a half years, and I want to introduce our calligraphy teacher Mr. Guan to you."

[Ben]
"Hello, Mr. Guan. Thank you for coming to our TV station to introduce your calligraphy. Could you first talk about the history of calligraphy and its process of development?"

[Mr. Guan Zhiyuan, Calligraphy Instructor at Wall St Chinese]
"Chinese calligraphy has spread far and wide, with a history of 3,000 years. When calligraphy was being first created, they started with characters and later it developed into pictographic characters. With pictograph characters you see a sun, and they write a pictograph to represent the sun. For the moon, they also turn it into a character for moon. This is how Chinese calligraphy developed—from pictographs to line characters. Chinese calligraphy has 3,000 years of history."

[Ben]
"Could you now demonstrate your calligraphy? Show us some different styles?"

[Mr. Guan Zhiyuan, Calligraphy Instructor at Wall St Chinese]
"I will write some characters to show you the characteristics of Chinese calligraphy. This year is the year of the dragon, so we will start with the character for dragon. The oldest character for dragon is this. This is the oldest, and it is called the seal script. You can see the beauty of the seal script in its lines.
Later, to make writing more recognizable to everyone, it developed into the Official Script style. The idea of the Official Script was to allow people who work to learn how to write. This is the Official Script. But the Official Script is very slow to write. So from the Official script it developed into regular script. The lines lend themselves to being written a bit quicker. But this style of calligraphy doesn't have the feeling of movement. Later they started writing in a style called Grass Script or Cursive Script, which could express the feeling of movement of the dragon. It is like the dragon is flying."

[Ben]
"It is written very beautifully."

[Mr. Guan Zhiyuan, Calligraphy Instructor at Wall St Chinese]
"What would you like to see me write? Let me know and I will write it for you."

[Ben]
"Can you write my Chinese name?"


[Mr. Guan Zhiyuan, Calligraphy Instructor at Wall St Chinese]
"OK. I will now tell you, at first when we write calligraphy, we start from a point, then a horizontal line, a vertical line, a curved diagonal line, and another one this way, a vertical line with a hook and a horizontal line with a hook. You practice these fundamental strokes, then your characters (use these strokes), horizontal line, vertical, etc.

When we write calligraphy, these are the basic skills to practice. Then once we understand it, we can write the Official Script style. Here is your name. I hope you like it."

[Ben]
"Thank you, I will hang it on my wall. Thanks very much.

Mr. Guan, thank you very much for coming to introduce Chinese calligraphy to us today."


[Mr. Guan Zhiyuan, Calligraphy Instructor at Wall St Chinese]

"When Westerners like to study calligraphy, I am very happy to share my experience with you.

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