Script Styles of Chinese Calligraphy: An Overview of Kai Shu (楷書) – the Standard Script Style

 

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.

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