History of Chinese Calligraphy – The Golden Age of Chinese Calligraphy: Han Dynasty (漢朝/Han Chao/Han Ch’ao) and the Age of Text


The Formation of a Literati Class During Han Dynasty as an Ascendant for the Tradition of Chinese Calligraphy

After only a decade and a half, the Qin Dynasty fell apart. However the Han nation, under the direction of Liu Bang, quickly defeated the 18 Kingdoms to reunify China. The name for the Han Dynasty thus comes from the name of the ancient prinipality of of Han, in modern-day Si Chuan and Southern Shaanxi. Unlike the fall of the Zhou, the 18 Kingdoms period was only a few years long, and the Imperial model was rapidly reasserted. (Han dynasty map)  Central to the success of the Imperial model was the dedication of a class of scribes, officials and courtiers referred to collectively as the ‘literati’. These men (they were usually men) of letters provided the centralized government and social institutions with legitimacy by carrying out and contributing to the political discourse of their times.

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Script Styles of Chinese Calligraphy: An Overview of Cao Shu (草書) – the Cursive Script Style


What is the Cursive Script Style (Cao Shu / 草書) in Chinese Calligraphy?

Chinese Cursive is usually referred to as a Style and not a Script. This is due to the lack of discernible rules. The name, meaning ‘rough writing,’ likely refers to the style’s evolution as a quick shorthand for personal notes or drafts never meant as final products, to say nothing of artworks. Following the Han, however, Cursive Styles gained currency as a worthy method of expressing the artist’s innermost feelings. The rapidity and unburdened brushwork certainly has a great appeal to the eye, even if it sacrifices legibility.

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