Where did Chinese writing come from? It appears that the first characters were not written with brush and ink, but rather inscribed on bones. It was in the Shang Dynasty (商朝， c. 1600-1050 BCE) that characters first appeared as a fully developed linguistic system. Although there have been clear examples of meaningful marks on artifacts from slightly before the Shang, these did not often appear in sequence, and are thought to be clan markings denoting ownership of elite goods.
What is the Aesthetic Concept of Balance in Chinese Calligraphy?
When it comes to writing Chinese Characters, especially with an artistic aim in mind, it is important to have a sense not only of each individual stroke and radical, but also of how these elements relate to each other coherently and beautifully. A well-written character will have balance both within the space it is written, between individual strokes, and between the radicals. What is meant by this?
How to Control the Tone of Ink in Chinese Calligraphy?
There are a great number of strategies that calligraphers use to provide visual interest within their works. One of the easiest ways to introduce different aesthetics is to control the amount tone of the Ink used. Simply by changing the ratio of ink paste to water, the calligrapher can use different tones to express different ideas. Darker tones can be used for weighty, sober meditations, while lighter tones can betray a more fanciful mindset. Using two or more batches of different ink in a single work can provide interesting contrast, especially when more than one script is used. Experimenting with different ink tones is perhaps the simplest way to experience the vast potential contained in the simple ink stick.
The first thing to note about writing Calligraphy is that a Brush is not to be held like a pen. Unlike Western alphabetic writing, Chinese writing requires equally fluid movement in all directions, not just across the page. As such, the Brush should be held perfectly vertical to the page, using all fingers and a relaxed wrist.
An Introduction to the Radicals in Chinese Characters
Once you’ve got a general idea of the Basic Strokes and their Order, you can easily begin to expand your knowledge of the final level of structure within each Chinese Character: Radicals. A Radical is somewhat similar in function to a Western letter. One of the primary differences is that whereas Western words are written horizontally and may be of very different lengths, all Chinese characters are meant to be of a standard size, no matter how many ‘letters’ they contain. Secondly, Radicals may relate either to the sound of a character or to its meaning. Each Character represents a single syllable. In fact, Chinese has so few available syllables that representing meaning in other ways than simple consonants and vowels is necessary to differentiate essentially identical spoken words. In speech, this differentiation is achieved by tone. In writing, differentiation is achieved using Radicals.