Principles of Chinese Calligraphy


P8: Choosing a Form Book (Copy Book or Model)

There are five major styles of Chinese calligraphy Zuan, Li, Tsao, Hsin, and Kai. Each style has numerous derivatives and sub-styles. Choosing our first style will greatly influence our thoughts, emotions, styles, and artistic accomplishment in the future. Choosing a bad or improper style will confine our progress and points of view.  Different calligraphy scholars have different assertions about choosing the first style. Except for Tsao and Hsin Styles, the other three styles can be chosen for beginners. (Tsao and Hsin Styles both have a lot of irregularities and demand a faster speed of writing.) 

The following chart recommends the first style for beginners. It also lists characteristics, connections, and future benefits if we focus on one style and then go from there.

Kai 楷 書 Li 隸 書 Zuan 篆 書

S

A

M

P

L

E

  #1

 

 

S

A

M

P

L

E

  #2

 

S

A

M

P

L

E

  #3

 

S

A

M

P

L

E

#4

 

Pros 

&

Cons

 

        Adopted by most new students

        Easy to recognize standard writing

        Easy to learn, but hard to master

        Connect to learn Hsin Style and then Tsao Style

        Does not trace evolution of Chinese characters

        Elegant beauty

        Easy to learn

        Varieties of character structures

        Can trace backward to Zuan and forward to Kai

        Prone to fall in confined style limitation -- cannot connect to learn Hsin & Tsao directly

        Understanding character evolution

        Strokes emphasize calligraphy theories good foundation for Tsao Style and training Center Tip Principle

        Trace forward to Li

        Not for those who don't know Chinese writings 

 

 

The following websites provide free download of Copy Books and masterpieces:  

 

Ancient Chinese calligraphy Form Books are the best lifetime calligraphy teachers. Every ancient Chinese calligrapher went through a long process in their life emulating Form Books and previous masterpieces. The more we dive in and the more humble we are, the more learning and knowledge we can retrieve from those masterpieces. The more details and closeness we have observed and transferred to our practice, the more progress we can make.  

 

Rubbing a Chinese calligraphy work

The following is an excellent website for versions of rubbings of Chinese calligraphy masterpieces.

                     http://www.bttp.net/xinshang/xinshang.htm


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