Political Influence of Chinese Calligraphy – How Chinese Calligraphic Tradition Defines China as a Written Culture


What is China?: Foreign Rule and the Sinicization Paradigm

At various times throughout history, China has been conquered and subsequently rules by groups not usually considered ‘Chinese’. In the Yuan and Qing dynasties, for instance, China was governed by the Mongols and Manchu people respectively. Even at the time of Song dynasty, a time of great progress and advancement in Chinese history, the north of present-day China was ruled by the Jurchen who proclaimed their Liao Dynasty to be a direct descendant of the Tang dynasty. Nevertheless, each of these ‘foreign’ regimes in some way took up the mantle of dynastic rule, conforming to and propagating a very specific set of politico-social standards. That is, each of them eventually considered themselves, or at least claimed, to be governing according to standards of rule deeply rooted in the Chinese culture since at least the Warring States period. What, then, is China if it is not simply a region or an ethnicity? When we speak of Chinese culture, what is the status of these periods that, despite being ruled by non-ethnic Chinese, nevertheless took part in continuing the Chinese cultural outlook.

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Ink and Wash / Sumi-e Artworks and Masters – Qi Baishi (齐白石/Ch’i Pai-shih)


The Life and Times of Qi Baishi (齐白石/Ch’i Pai-shih)

When looking at Qi Baishi’s vita, one might be surprised that someone with originally no connection to painting should become one of the greatest and most famous ink painters of modern times. Although taking painting very seriously throughout his life, it seems as if fame did not come to him until the last decade of his life.

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History of Chinese Calligraphy – Modern Period: Development of Chinese Calligraphy During Qing Dynasty (清朝/Qing Chao/Ch’ing Ch’ao)


The Qing Dynasty (清朝/Qing Chao/Ch’ing Ch’ao): From Prosperity to Ruin

As had been so often the case in Chinese History, the Ming Dynasty fell victim to increasingly calcified politcal systems and fragmenting power structures. Following a series of military defeats, the last Ming Emperor took his own life, leaving the incumbent Manchu forces to assert complete dominance over China in 1662. The next three hundred years would see the Manchu, at the head of the Qing Dynasty, rule in a fashion not unlike that of previous dynasties. Nevertheless, strict political control was the norm as the ethnically separate Manchu struggled to keep a stranglehold on what was essentially a captured territory.

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