Few nations in the world have calligraphy as a form of art. In China, calligraphy has maintained a close rapport with the country's cultural development. Calligraphy, or shufa, is one of the four basic skills and disciplines of the Chinese literati, together with painting (hua), stringed musical instruments (qin) and board games (qi ).
Chinese calligraphy is the art of turning square Chinese characters into expressive images by the responsiveness of rice paper and speed and pressure of a pointed Chinese brush.
Calligraphy is an expressive art. According to an old Chinese saying, "the way characters are written is a portrait of the person who writes them." Expressing the abstract beauty of lines and rhythms, calligraphy is thud a reflection of a person's emotions, moral integrity, character, educational level, accomplishments in self-cultivation, intellectual tastes and approach to life.
Chinese characters, which convey ideas, are regarded as the most abstract and sublime art form.
Calligraphy manifests the basic characteristics of all Chinese arts.
Calligraphy and painting are the two leaders of Chinese art forms; however, calligraphy takes precedence over painting since it greatly inspired the art of painting. Moreover, calligraphy has influenced other typically Chinese art forms like classical poetry, seal-cutting, sculpture, traditional music and dance, architecture and handicrafts.
Calligraphy is a mental exercise that coordinates the mind and body. It is a most relaxing yet highly disciplined exercise for physical and spiritual well-being. Historically, many calligraphic artists lived to a ripe, old age.
Calligraphy is also a practical fine art and one of the most challenging Chinese art forms for a foreigner to appreciate or master. Exotic calligraphic inscriptions written on paper, wooden plaques or stone tablets serve as decorations of a deep artistic value.
Calligraphy is not only a practical technique for writing Chinese characters, but also a unique Oriental art of expression and a branch of learning or discipline as well. As a branch of learning it is rich in content, including the evolution of writing styles, development and rules of technique, history of calligraphy, calligraphers and their inheritance in art, and evaluation of calligraphy as a work of art. This branch of learning is wide ranging and deep, forming an important part of Chinese culture.
Paper- The texture is fine and somewhat absorbent.
Chinese ink- It is solid, and usually comes in the shape of sticks. Black ink is made from the soot of pinewood or oil smoke, and a gum substance. Often, these sticks are decorated and highly prized by themselves.
Chinese inkstone- Inkstones are made from stone or pottery. They are flat and hard, and are sometimes shaped into beautiful objects. The calligrapher puts water on the inkstone, then grinds the stick of ink against it. This makes ink that can be brushed on paper. It is important to grind enough ink to finish what you start. If you have to grind more ink, you may not be able to make it the same shade.
Chinese brush- Brushes are made from animal hair that is bundled together and put on bamboo reeds. The Chinese use hair from wolves, sheep, rabbits, deer, foxes, or mice depending on the type of writing. For small delicate writing, use rabbit hair. For bold writing, sheep hair is good. You must take good care of the brushes to keep the point stiff and straight.
Brush rest- These stands are used to hold extra brushes. They are usually decorated.
When writing Chinese, you must always keep the brush straight up and down. Do not let your palm touch the brush. You must know how to hold the brush correctly to become a good calligrapher. Calligraphy takes lots of practice.