What is the Standard Script Style (Kai Shu / 楷書) in Chinese Calligraphy?
What is today known as the Standard Script, or Kai Shu (楷書), entered the Chinese writing tradition as a well-defined and mature script only in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE). It dispensed with the overt formality of Clerical (隸書/Li Shu) and Seal Scripts (篆書: Zhuan Shu). Likewise, it eschewed the liberation and near-illegibility of the Cursive Scripts. Fully embracing the tools of the Calligrapher, Kai Shu became the favored script for everyday writing, and remains so to this day. Although Seal and Clerical scripts may be chosen as the first to learn, choosing to start with Standard Script will best allow the novice to experiment with greater freedom or formality in later stages.
A Brief Biography of Yan Zhen Qing (顏真卿/Yen Chen Ch’ing)
As the Tang dynasty wore on, a figure arose who would redefine calligraphy, challenging even Wang Xi Zhi as the pre-eminent calligrapher. Yan Zhen Qing (709-785 CE) is sometimes known as the ‘second prophet’ of calligraphy. This status, just slightly behind Wang Xi Zhi, is more likely due to his later historical period than to any quantifiable difference in skill.